This Guest paper was submitted for publication 4/27/13 and is copyright to David Harrison, © 2013.
This paper is an update of a paper originally published in 2008.
Published here December 2013.

PQQ = PreQualification
ITT = Invitation To
RFP = Request For

PART 2 | Introduction | Strategies and Tactics | Evidence
Content and Presentation | Post-tender Interviews | Summary


Mistake #17 - Performance data is threadbare

Have you ever received low scores for the performance management section of pre-qualifications and tenders? Have you wondered why this is? If this has happened to you then you already know the answer, I hope. You can't pick up many marks if you've got very little (or nothing) to show the customer. In my experience I would say that 8 out of 10 bidders have poor records when it comes to measuring and capturing performance data and 3 out of 10 have none at all.

Most bidders submit:

  • No data at all,
  • Just the little bits of data they have,
  • Or they try to bulls**t their way through this section.

Needless to say, they absolutely bomb on this aspect of their submission. It can often make the difference between overall success and failure.

Designing and implementing a simple, easy to use performance management system that generates a gold mine of useful data which you can use in your tenders is a relatively straight forward process and guess what ... it improves your performance and profitability as well! Despite this, so few organizations have one.

Mistake #18 - Pretentious answers

I often see submissions that are well constructed and in tune with what the customers are looking for but despite this the bidder can't back their answers up with evidence of actual achievement. The answers therefore come across as pretentious. They give the impression that this is what they would like to do rather than what they have actually done. Customer's evaluators are looking to award marks for both understanding and evidence with an emphasis on the latter. They want to see proof so that it adds credibility to your bid.

You might say, "We haven't got the material or the evidence!" From my experience of helping companies win contracts, I quite often hear this but more often than not the evidence does exist. It is just a case of asking the right questions and looking in the right places to find the little gems of information and data that will pick up the marks.

I have created a comprehensive set of questions for the more common types of questions asked and use these to help my clients realize that they do in fact have some great material. They just need to implement a process for systematically capturing useful material or data on every project and building up a library of well-written case studies that can be used on PQQs, tenders and proposals.

Another common mistake that organizations make is to use evidence of achievements from projects that are not relevant to the type of work required by the customer. A fantastic case study for a new factory is not really that relevant for the refurbishment of an occupied housing estate, now is it?

Mistake #19 - Poor references

Virtually all customers ask for references from previous customers, usually three. They carry a significant proportion of the total scores so there is a reasonable expectation that you will provide the contact details of referees who fulfill the following criteria:

  • They are happy with the services and products that you provided for them.
  • They purchased your services and products recently (e.g. within the last three years).
  • Their projects were of a similar character and size to that required by the customer and are therefore relevant to the bid.
  • The referees have already given permission to be approached.
  • If any of these criteria are not met then it may be better not to include them at all as they may be a liability!

I have sometimes been amazed at the choice of referees made by some bidders, as the reference is so poor. If you have little alternative, then it may be better to use someone who will give you a good reference even though the projects you have completed for them have little in common with the project you are bidding on. If in doubt seek a second opinion.

Strategies and Tactics  Strategies and Tactics

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