What makes a good bid? We speak to the experts

On 19 March, ITS UK held its first Bid Support Tuesday. Taking place online on the third Tuesday of each month, these sessions provide ITS UK members with the opportunity to hear from two bidding experts – Pippa Birch of Pipster Solutions and Phil Seymour of Seymour Surveyors.

In the first session, Pippa and Phil gave their top tips for how to put together a strong bid.

Tip #1: Don’t start with the tender

Pippa and Phil’s first piece of advice is to be prepared, even before the invitation to tender (ITT) or prior information notice is issued. Build up your collateral and evidence, get to know the market, create a central repository of material and understand the requirements of a client. When the ITT comes out, being ready and doing your homework will ensure you can make the best case possible.

Tip #2: It’s not just about cost – think carbon and social value

A successful bid is no longer about how affordable your product or service is, although cost does play a key role. It’s important you’re thinking about the social value of your bid, your environmental record and how you can show that you’re making a positive impact through your business. With the new Procurement Act coming into force in October 2024, there will be even more emphasis on non-price factors.

Tip #3: Read every page

The first thing Pippa and Phil do when they get an ITT is to read the document through, from the first word to the last. Ultimately, the ITT is what you’re signing up to, so you need to understand it and agree to all clauses, as well as the opportunities and risks the contract may bring. And if you need external support, there are great consultants out there (including our two experts) who are willing to help you make sense of the detail.

Tip #4: Have a pipeline

There will be some bids you win, but also some you may lose, so having a strong pipeline of work is critical. Understand your market and what opportunities are coming down the line, and make sure you have an up-to-date library of evidence that you can provide for each tender. Local authority tenders are similar, but remember that each organisation is different so you will need to give each tender its own time and care.

Tip #5: Get your price right

You will be asked to set out your prices and costs in detail, so make sure you have them right before you submit. A top tip from Pippa and Phil is to create a dummy spreadsheet to check your numbers. Develop your pricing structure and make sure its cohesive.

And one tip on what not to do: Don’t ignore the evaluation criteria

Phil and Pippa highlighted examples where bidders had simply ignored the evaluation criteria and the weighting on different parts of their bid. Your bid will not succeed if you only focus on areas with low weightings – so you need to think strategically about your offer and match it to the evaluation criteria.

Interested in finding out more? ITS UK members can join Pippa and Phil for the next Bid Support Tuesday on 16 April, online at 12pm. Sign up here.