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Meeting the client to understand their requirements

If possible, try to arrange for the Client to meet selected members of your proposed bid team in advance of a formal submission. This will help to develop the relationship, gain useful information about the commercial issues and enable the Client to have a feel for your firm and its culture. By asking appropriate questions, your team will demonstrate how interested they are to work with the Client. It may also be possible to seek and test the Client's early interest in possible solutions. It is also important to identify the bid-critical relationships that may need developing. It is worth finding out how the Client feels about the increasing use of technology in meetings, for example is it acceptable to use tablet computers, smart devices?

The client's requirements and processes -10 key questions to be answered

• What does the Client want?

• What are the key business issues faced by the Client?

• Who are the key decision makers?

• What cultural issues are important?

• How does the Client decide between suppliers?

• What process is used to make the purchasing decision?

• Who in our firm should prepare and deliver the response?

• What is the timescale?

• What is the budget?

• Who are the key stakeholders?

The more answers you have to the above questions, the more likelihood there is of delivering a successful proposal.

Bid evaluation

In deciding whether or not to proceed with a bid, many firms have a formal evaluation process that gives a weighting to particular questions and then requires a scoring by the bid team. Here is an evaluation approach. The evaluation criteria are divided into sections: opportunity/competition/ relationship/value to our firm.

Opportunity

• Do we know what the Client really wants?

• Does the Client know what they want?

Competition

• Can we compete on price alone?

• Do we know the Client's decision-making process?

• How does the Client choose between suppliers?

• Do we have the capability to do the work?

Relationship

• What is the strength of our relationship with the Client?

• Is there a conflict of interest (e.g. employees owning shares in the company may preclude bidding)?

Value to our firm

• Does the work fit our firm's strategy?

• Is the relationship likely to be profitable?

• Can we recover our bid costs?

• Is there any recurring business (e.g. audit)? Can we also sell advisory or other services?

• Company size - is the Client too big or too small for our firm?

• Would the Client's brand add value to the firm?

• Is it a fast-growing, dynamic business?

Each of the above 15 statements is then weighted in order of importance to the firm. So, for example, 'Does the work fit our firm's strategy?' may receive the highest weighting of 15.

Reviewing the bid criteria

The criteria can be reviewed and refined over time as the evaluation process develops. It may be necessary to modify the criteria for specific bid situations.

An example of a bid evaluation chart is shown in Table 11.1.

Table 11.1 Bid Evaluation Chart

Evaluation criteria

Weighting

Score out of 10

Total

Opportunity

Do we know what the Client really wants?

3

7

21

Does the Client know what they want?

2

6

12

Competition

Can we compete on price alone?

5

8

40

Do we know the Client's decision-making process?

4

7

28

How does the Client choose between suppliers?

7

4

28

Do we have the capability to do the work?

1

7

7

Relationship

What is the strength of our relationship with the Client?

14

7

98

Is there a conflict of interest?

8

2

16

Value to our firm

Does the work fit our firm's strategy (sectors, international, etc.)?

15

9

135

Is the relationship likely to be profitable?

13

7

91

Can we recover our bid costs?

10

6

60

Is there any recurring business?

1 1

7

77

Company size - is the Client too big or too small for our firm?

6

8

48

Would the Client brand add value to the firm?

5

7

35

Is it a fast growing, dynamic, business?

9

7

63

Bid (> 600)/no-bid total

759

Source: Dave Chadda, Bid Specialist.

In Table 11.1, the statements have been weighted in priority order from 1 to 15. Each criterion has then been scored by the bid team out of a maximum of 10 points. The total column is the multiple of weight and score to give a weighted total. The overall weighted score is 759 and is considered acceptable in this instance as the minimum bid/no-bid total is 600. The maximum possible score is 1,500.

If a bid evaluation points to a no-bid, it is possible that one or more team members may feel that the Client is worth bidding for and may challenge a no-bid decision. In this case there needs to be a process in place to enable these bids to be discussed at a higher level. Some firms establish a Bid Escalation Board to review such bid situations. Bid criteria should be regularly reviewed based on results and amended to sharpen the process so that the criteria and weightings that resulted in the highest level of wins are retained.

 
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