Tenders and bids generate a lot of paperwork! Even if you never print anything off, there will be lots of electronic documents to keep control of, which other people may also need access to. You will also need to keep working documents separate from final, completed ones, to avoid submitting the wrong thing…
Software to control your bids is available if your organisation is planning on undertaking a lot of this type of work. This can take the headache out of finding tenders and completing the initial enquiry through to document creation and submission. It can also control who has access to sensitive information, keep ‘stock’ or ‘boiler plate’ answers on file to pre-populate forms and even link to your CRM (Customer Relationship System) if you wish.
To keep this training relevant to the widest variety of organisations, the assumption is that you’re doing things the manual way and not using specific bid writing software. However, the basics of finding, writing and submitting a bid are similar regardless of the method used and it’s good practice to be able to use both manual and automated systems just in case.
If you have a company intranet, shared drives or cloud access via Google Suite or similar these are the best places to keep your files. You can then share them with relevant people who will be contributing to the process and also ensure that the working documents are separate from the ones for final submission.
When I’m writing a bid, my files look something like this:
I also add a checklist into the main ‘ABCD Supply of Services Tender’ folder, which I will use at the end of the process to ensure everything is ready to submit.
The time you spend creating boilerplate text answers is rarely wasted. Many tenders have questions in common and it’s a real time-saver to be able to copy and paste previous answers into a new bid. Now is the time to set up your boilerplate answers folder and as you go through writing the tender, copy the text into blank documents and save them there as well. It’s unlikely you will ever get two completely identical tenders but the answers will usually be close enough to do a minor tweak and then submit without starting from scratch. Keep the folder in your main tender folder and allow access to whoever might require it – they can add to it or use it to write bids themselves.