How do you tackle a tender process?

"The story is more enjoyable to read now, but does that make it a better story?"

From bronze to platinum: learn from Picasso how to tackle a tender process

Blog by Lennart

I did my first tender process in 1998. Client called asking if I could write up their offer that they had to submit 3 or 4 days later a bit better. All plans more to one style, one tone. A completely new assignment for me, but one I really enjoyed doing. Because this work, created by the brightest minds at Client, is very close to their business.

Yet it was also unsatisfactory. In the texts, I came across passages that could have been better, sharper and more customer-oriented. But unfortunately, there was no time for substantive questions. The deadline was approaching; I had to let it pass. That's why this kept gnawing. Yes, the story is more readable now, but did that make it a better story? Was my contribution now able to ensure that Client had a better chance of winning this tender?

Content, that's what matters

I wondered. I actually didn't think so. A well-written story is not a good content story. And the latter, that's what matters. Therefore, after submission, I called my client. How can my writing skills, knowledge of communication and understanding of Client and his business really add value to the tender team, besides making an offer more pleasant to read? In short, how do we ensure a better tender process?

The funny thing was: he had thought about that too. His conclusion: you read differently and look at these queries with customer and communication glasses more than we do. That's why next time we're going to take you earlier in the process around a involve tender process.

And so I got even closer to the business and was part of Client's approach to procurement processes: from bronze through silver and gold to platinum. And that was cool.

Over 20 years later, that approach is still the best. In my previous blog I wrote about that. All preparations have been made: your best team is in place, the necessary specialists are involved. Now get to work.

1. Organise inspiration sessions

Think: Picasso and his masterpiece Guernica. For this, he first made countless sketches, which he used to develop and shape his ideas. We do the same in tenders. For the various subplans, we hold inspiration sessions, for which the specialists get together to develop initial ideas. What is being asked for? And what should we offer? In bullets, we note down the customer needs and ambitions, and elements, aspects, feelings, products and services we should at least include in our story. They are the building blocks for the final offer. Inspiration sessions are important for a successful tender process. Take time for the exchange of ideas and organise more sessions if necessary.

2. Bronze

Think again: Picasso and Guernica. After a series of sketches, he had formed his ideas and used charcoal to put the images on the 3.5-metre by over 7.5-metre canvas. A document owner does the same. The elaboration of the inspiration sessions form the bronze version. Arranging all the bullets, she/he creates an initial structure for the story. A tip here is to follow the questions point by point as much as possible. Then the evaluator does not have to search for the answers. The team discusses the bronze version with each other.

3. Silver

Still think: Picasso and Guernica. Again and again sketching and wiping away, the master arrives at a final design and layout of the canvas. This is also how it is with our document owner in this tender process. Based on the bronze version, comments and choices at work, she/he writes the first version of the story. The outlines of the final tender begin to emerge; the story grows. The team starts reading again.

4. Gold

Keep in mind: Picasso and Guernica. The master is now really painting. So is our document owner. After the 2e discussion, she/he works towards the almost final story. For the last time, the team can read and comment on the story.

5. Platinum

Hold that image: Picasso and Guernica. The master looks and uses white, black and grey to apply the nuances that give the painting its formidable power. The document owner is also nearing completion. She/he processes the final comments and cuts the final knots with the finalist. The offer is finalised and handed in with the required documents and prices that have been worked on in parallel.

Celebrate your submission

For Guernica, millions travel (for corona at least) especially to Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. THAT is what the tender teams in which I participated never achieved, even though many teams put together absolute masterpieces of offers. Therefore, as a team, don't forget to celebrate the submission. And especially if it is later won. Because really, one of the most fantastic experiences in my profession is winning tenders.

other stories_

Why choose external experts for your tender team?

How do you construct a good story from a plethora of information?

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