Bid Blog – Building a Bid Library
A bid library can be a powerful tool to help grow your company through tendering. It can speed up the preparation of bids, free up time for your staff, and consolidate relevant information. It will also help you avoid duplication of effort across multiple tenders.
In this short article, we consider:
- What a bid library is
- Its usefulness
- How to create one
What is a Bid Library?
A bid library is a single repository of documents used to help prepare tenders. It is likely to contain:
- Information about your company
- Organisation charts
- Accreditation certificates
- Insurance schedules
- Financial summaries
- Relevant policy statements
- Method statements
- Model answers to common questions (e.g. approach to health and safety)
- Key statistics
- Case studies
- Photographs, diagrams and other images
- Copies of previous bids.
The library should be indexed with information cross-referenced on different topics so it can be easily recovered. A member of your team will also need to keep it continually updated as you tender, so that it is a useful point of reference. A poorly maintained library will quickly become out of date and an unhelpful resource.
Usefulness of a Bid Library
The advantages of a bid library are:
- Documents that are useful to preparing bids are kept in one place for ease of reference, saving time when locating information.
- You avoid duplicating effort when drafting responses to bid questions.
- Responses to bids continually improve as you adjust the answers in response to feedback from evaluators because you hold onto elements that tend to score highly.
- You create a single knowledge base that is accessible by your relevant staff, rather than a few people who may not be available to impart information when you need it.
- You provide continuity of corporate knowledge as staff leave or move to other roles and new employees are hired.
Building a Bid Library
Creating a bid library is not rocket science, but it does take time and effort.
- Plan your library – make a list of all the documents you think it should contain.
- Identify which documents you already have and those that will need creating.
- Agree how you will create the library – electronic ones are easier to maintain, allow you to switch access permissions on and off easily and they are better for the environment.
- Agree where you will keep it – on a shared drive, on a SharePoint site or something similar.
- Start to pull together documents and index them carefully.
- Collate all your previous tenders – remember to store not just your responses, but instructions, questions and evaluation criteria.
- Review previous bid responses against evaluation marks – material that you reuse must be tempered by how highly it scored for reuse to best effect.
- Consider re-writing weaker answers, using feedback from evaluators to improve the quality of the response.
- Create templates for responses – this is especially relevant for business to business bidding where you may not be given a format as part of the tender documents. Make sure templates comply with your company’s branding policy if you have one.
- Assign each document an owner – this is not likely to be the same person who manages your library. For example, insurance certificates will be ‘owned’ by the person who manages insurance for your business.
- Create an index that cross references by subject matter so you can find information relevant to a topic quickly – remember some documents may be indexed more than once. For example, a question about your approach to assuring quality may cover your accreditations, how you conduct audits, compliance with KPIs and staff training.
- Documents should be reviewed from time to time to ensure they remain relevant and up to date. Things like policies and procedures and certificates should be checked annually.
Drafting Model Answers
Model answers are a useful starting point for common questions that occur in bids.
First of all, identify those topics that most commonly occur in your bids.
Then assign responsibility to a relevant member of staff to prepare a draft model answer, either to an actual question you have answered in the past or a fictional one you have created. Remember to include as much information as possible and evidence the answers. Do not get too worried about word limits at this stage.
While model answers form the starting point to answering a bid question, we never recommend copying and pasting responses – they should always be tailored to the particular bid you are preparing.
More information about preparing model answers can be found on our website.
Using a Bid Library
The bid library should be used to gather information you need to create your bid responses. Be sure to consider carefully the evaluation criteria provided. Do not simply reuse your compiled material wholesale. Although the question may seem standard to you on a particular topic, the evaluation criteria may actually require elements you have not written about before. Even if this is not the case, you need to adjust the response to what the evaluator is interested in. Remove any elements that are irrelevant.
Keep the library updated, continually adding to it as new material becomes available.
We hope you have found this article helpful.
If you want to know more about creating a bid library, or you are interested in finding out more about how to improve your bidding, get in touch by calling Sam Nimmo on 01491 902021 or e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our website as well for more tips about producing high quality bids and proposals.