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 November 2013.

PQQ = PreQualification
ITT = Invitation To
RFP = Request For

PART 1 | Introduction | Processes 
PQQ and Bid Teams | Understanding | PART 3

PQQ and Bid Teams

Mistake #9 - PQQ and bid teams under resourced

Hands up if you have objectively assessed how long it will take to create a winning PQQ, tender or proposal submission and then either you or your boss has halved it! Maybe you have been told that you can only spend so much time or money. Is it because you are juggling other jobs or because the boss is more concerned with cost than quality? What tends to happen when you have time and money constraints is any or all of the following:

  • Short cuts are taken and you resort to cutting and pasting from previous submissions more than you would like to.
  • You miss out the crucial planning, strategy and review steps.
  • You extend your working day and week. If this happens regularly then you will end up exhausted and make mistakes.
  • The review of your work is done at the last minute leaving little time for any amendments.
  • Your success rate suffers unsurprisingly.

I am not advocating spending more money overall. I am just saying that you should be more selective and spend more time and effort on fewer opportunities and get better results. It is better to spend twice as much on doing the job properly and winning two out of three tenders than trying to take short cuts and ending up winning one in six.[3]

Mistake #10 - Little commitment shown by key contributors

Engineers and surveyors make up 90% of the construction, built environment and IT sectors that I cover. I would suggest that none of them selected their careers and joined their professions because they enjoy writing! Most of them hate it, which is just as well as I would be out of a job! People generally prefer to use their time doing things they enjoy, which is why problems occur when you allocate writing task to subject matter experts who don't like writing.

I have found on numerous occasions that despite continued promises that they will complete their writing tasks on time, the work is either late or has been rushed and is therefore of poor quality and has to be completely rewritten. Occasionally the work doesn't arrive at all! There are 101 reasons why it was not their fault, the most popular being that they had to deal with an urgent request from a customer. Some of these excuses are genuine, but when you analyze it, it is usually the same people making the excuses. They don't want to complete the tasks allocated to them because they hate doing it.

The answer is to create a team of subject matter experts and writers where the writer interviews the subject matter expert and extracts all of the rich and relevant content for the submission. He or she then uses their writing skills to create a submission that articulates the strengths of the organization and the benefits of the proposed solutions. It is rare to find a bid writer who has the subject matter expertise and content knowledge to produce top class submissions on their own. So it is essential that they have excellent communication skills and are able to ask the right questions, actively listen to answers from subject matter experts and then use this information properly.

Processes  Processes

3. Editor's comment: One in six is likely very optimistic!
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