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Is Your Technology Stopping you from Building a Winning Bid Team?

by Morten Brøgger, CEO, Huddle

The moment a relevant RFP or invitation to tender (ITT) document arrives in your inbox, you need to act fast. Unfortunately, the bidding process is complex and resource-heavy. Large bid management situations can involve dozens of people across the business. With multi-million-pound tenders and lucrative multi-year contracts in the balance, teams must be able to access bid documents and information at anytime, anywhere. But as many service providers have seen all too frequently, the major road block to this is legacy collaboration technology.

A successful bid is often won on subject matter expertise, which means tapping into many different sources of knowledge - sales, finance, operations, legal counsel, etc - to raise the quality of the bid. However, the bid team is unlikely to be working in a single, stationary location. What is more likely is that the team will be separated by location and time zones, often working from hotels, airport lounges or even at home – throwing another logistical spanner into the works.
On top of battling dispersed teams, many businesses are still unaware of just how costly the inefficiencies during a bid process can be. One of the hidden costs of the bid management process is ensuring staff stay efficient.  According to recent research into the UK professional services sector, at least seven people are typically involved in a new business bid, with each senior member of the team dedicating approx. 12.6 hours to the process. This equates to an average of 84 senior hours per bid. A costly endeavour, which can escalate if the team is repeatedly working on the wrong version of a document or spending precious hours trying to catch up with the latest feedback.
With as much risk as potential value to the business, bid management teams must make sure that the process is as efficient as possible. With this in mind, here are the top three ways in which upgrading collaboration technology can deliver savings in both resources and bottom line revenue when pursuing new business: 

Controlling ‘versionitis’

Everyone who’s been involved within the bid management process understands it’s inherently a document-intensive process. As such, managers find themselves dealing with many document-related challenges including maintaining audit trails and retaining version control. In fact, when surveyed, 68% of all professional services respondents admitted that, within the last six months, they had spent substantial time working on a document only to discover it wasn’t the latest version.
Without proper document processes in place, mistakes and wasted efforts are more than likely. This may mean spending wasted time on editing content that has already been changed, or worse still, compounding the error by sharing the wrong version of a document for feedback.
To take control of document processes, bid managers must step away from legacy technologies like email and opt for cloud-based collaboration platforms. The Go-Ahead Group, an operator for a significant proportion of UK public transport franchises in the UK, deployed Huddle for exactly this reason. With large teams working on a single bid document, version control problems were common, and proving inefficient and costly, and had the potential to jeopardise bid success.
Being able to track content and version changes, create clear approval and review processes and revert to previous versions if necessary can save the team time and money and dramatically reduce the inefficiency and otherwise wasted time in creating each bid.

Locking down security threats 

Security is non-negotiable when it comes to preparing a bid response.
But typical collaboration “work arounds” are often inherently insecure. Email is too uncontrolled; USB sticks are inherently and notoriously easy to lose; consumer-grade file-sharing services are exactly that – consumer-grade.
In many cases, participation in a bid requires signing confidentiality agreements and acknowledgements that your systems and processes comply with the latest in security and access management regulations. Without a cloud-based collaboration platform it can become an uphill struggle to prove your organisation can adhere to the strict security procedure. And yet, fewer than half of our professional services survey respondents (46%) said that they used robust file-sharing systems.
Without central control of the document and its accessibility, Intellectual Property can easily leak to inappropriate third parties, and even to competitors. For many opportunities, data security is mission-critical, especially for the public sector – any leak during the bid phase will be fatal and taken as a sign of likely future non-compliance.
Reinventing the wheel

Many opportunities are won or lost based on the subject matter expertise displayed during the bidding process.
Yet, when surveyed, the largest portion of professional services respondents (33%) confirmed that collecting information and evidence of expertise from within the business was the primary time drain in bid construction – with 24% spending more than five minutes to retrieve every document. It is a cruel irony that the most important part of the bid is the hardest to deliver.
Many tender writers fall into the trap of starting the knowledge gathering process from scratch with every new bid.  Within large and diverse organisations, creating repeatable, universal processes and learning from previous projects is simply too difficult – especially where there are multiple teams performing similar roles within different geographies or divisions. What the UK bid team is learning and developing as a consistently successful process may never be seen by the US team, and vice versa.
But if a bid is built within a secure cloud-based collaborative space that maintains a digital audit trail of version changes, comments and approval workflows, then the entire process remains transparent and examinable. This then becomes the start of the creation of a bid library, filled with collateral, graphics, templates and processes, with teams learning from what has worked well before. The organisation-wide availability of this material not only removes the complexity of the bid construction, but it also removes the dangers of duplicating work, brand inconsistencies and the omission of specialist input.

Conclusion

There are many common frustrations felt by bid management teams during the bidding process; access to expertise, duplication of effort, security and managing the division of labour. For most, these frustrations will be traced back to inefficient technology and poor collaboration processes.

Controlling the root causes of potential inefficiency in bid management with secure, cloud-based workspaces will increase efficiency, save costs and ensure data and Intellectual Propert security. Even more importantly, these improvements will do more than remove the burden of the process – they will increase the chances of the bid’s success. 

By Morten Brøgger, CEO, Huddle


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