Originally published Dec 10, 2018. Updated Dec 2, 2022
Planning a bid to bring everyone together in a very short deadline is one of the biggest challenges facing Bid Managers today. Good Bid Managers are, in fact, VERY STRATEGIC CAT HERDERS.
Bringing technical, commercial, sales, legal and business experts, managers and senior level executives together for input, comments, review or approval takes time, patience, and a lot of chasing (and herding), particularly when time zones, different communication preferences and competing priorities that come into play during a ‘must win’ bid.
Typically, expertise required across a bid team is scattered across the organisation, whether it be in different departments, business lines, or in networked consortia in different locations (perhaps even in different countries).
Bid management vs project management
Bid management and project management are closely intertwined – it has to be done on time, and to cost and quality. But project management alone is not enough to win business over your competition. The fundamental difference between bid management and project management is usually one of time, budget and resources.
A Bid Manager juggles many tasks. They not only run the bid as a project but they might also wear multiple hats (if you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated Capture Manager). Bidding can cost up to 2% of a contract’s value so qualifying those bids to ensure the best chance of winning is the key to profitability.
A Bid Manager might be responsible for defining the win strategy and win themes, ensuring everyone is meeting all of the customer requirements, and they may also play a vital role in the writing of a persuasive submission that is compliant, compelling, and which is easy to evaluate to justify the contract decision.
Beyond preparing the offer, Bid Managers are often required to negotiate and close out the bid phase, gather post-bid feedback, and ensure the smooth transition of the bid to contract implementation if awarded.
From spreadsheets and email trail to cross-functional deal rooms
Often, Bid Managers have to be quite resourceful given their constraints of working in a fast-paced, lean and collaborative environment. Up until now, they have had to rely on a patchwork of tools to manage their roles – from spreadsheets to emails, and shared file repositories.
More than ever, collaboration needs greater two-way interaction, without the clutter. This is the especially the case when a Bid Manager is managing an opportunity where subject matter experts and sales teams are involved, and where compliance with requirements and deadlines can make or break the deal.
Strategic insight and efficient processes
To prepare a truly competitive response, Bid Managers need to extract as much insight and value as they can from a multitude of stakeholders – from gaining deeper insight and understanding of what the customer is seeking to achieve, to who will be evaluating the bid, and what their key drivers or ‘hot buttons’ are. They might be responsible for leading the development of key themes, and facilitating workshops to identify major differentiators and coming up with discriminators (the killer edge) over other bidders.
Adding to their juggle is the fact that Bid Managers are often faced with a balancing act to ensure customer requirements are being met within the contraints of internal capabilities and the politics of their organisation. By implementing systems that reduce the administrative complexity of the process, Bid Managers can focus more of their time on helping to qualify the opportunity, sharing intelligence across the team and keeping progress visible to improve efficiencies, lower costs and increase winning performance.
For organisations where bidding plays a large part of winning and retaining contracts, Bidhive helps bid teams to become more proficient cat herders – from managing the opportunity pipeline, to allocating tasks, setting milestones and building on the success of previous bids. By using Bidhive’s all-in-one Content Library, Bid Builder, Bid Tracker and Task Management modules organisations can also optimise bid team resources, wherever they are located.