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How to work with a partner to win a bid
by Josie Cluer, public sector lead at Moorhouse
Tuesday, April 01, 2014

As covered in my last blog, with the public sector asking for more from their outsourcers, providers are having to find new ways of working together to bid for projects. This is happening in a variety of ways, for example consortia, joint ventures or partnerships. But finding the right partner is just the first step in the process. Once the best partner has been identified a successful way of working must be established quickly to maximise the chances of winning the bid.

1.Invest in building the team

Bringing a new team together for the first time always brings challenges, particularly when team members are from different organisations, and even more so when they have very different cultures. It is worth investing in building a cohesive team by spending time exploring and articulating what success looks like, the “value proposition” and how the team will work together. One third sector leader who has successfully bid with a private provider to win government contracts told me that they invested a whole week of team building and planning. This helped her team overcome their cultural suspicion of the private sector and they formed a very successful long term partnership.

2.Mobilise a programme to deliver the bid

Most government bids experience tight timescales, a dispersed team and multiple activities all going on simultaneously which will feed into the end product. There’s a temptation for bidders to neglect programme management discipline because they simply don’t have time. But it’s a false economy: time pressured complex environments make good programme management more important, not less. That’s because programme management will enable bidders to coordinate the development of the value proposition and ensure the product is delivered on time and to budget. A must-win bid should be run like any other programme: underpinned by a robust plan, led by an experienced programme manager, supported by a programme management office, steered via clear governance, and delivered by a team with clear roles and responsibilities.

3.Don’t leave critical conversations until the end

Joint bid teams make two key mistakes which risk the success of the bid; first, they don’t keep senior leaders engaged in the content or direction of the bid, or second, they fail to “seal the deal” commercially. Both these problems lead to unnecessary friction and chaos in the last week of the bid. Yet both are avoidable with good planning. One person from each organisation should be responsible for communicating internally and managing the quality assurance process required by his or her leadership team. Similarly, obtaining the commercial agreement should be a process not an event, led by a designated person from each organisation, beginning right at the start of the bid.

Next week I’ll be writing about how to make the relationship with partners work for the duration of the contract.

Josie Cluer is public sector lead at Moorhouse, the transformation consultancy.

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