With the four big Australian banks due to call for legal services tenders this year, several insurance tenders long overdue and the Victorian Whole of Government Tender for legal services imminent, not to mention Defence Minister Kevin Andrews “competitive evaluation process” (not a tender) afoot, there’s certainly lots on for 2015.
Here are some of Julian Midwinter & Associates insights and advice into professional services tender trends to help you boost your tender win rate.
As part of your tender strategy, do a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis
Informed and centralised purchasing are themes running through legal provider selection for all large consumers. This is in recognition of the commercial clout and market power governments, insurers, banks and others can exercise to buy the right services from best-fit firms at favourable prices and then derive maximum value and benefit.
A tender opportunity may be more work that you initially realise.
Following recent public sector and insurance tenders, we have heard and seen many horror stories about the competitive hoops through which professional services firms had to jump: bidding auctions, tough demands for current evidence of capability, onerous reporting regimes, amazingly detailed reference checking, and requirements to respond to long and complex hypotheticals or “scenarios”.
Essential to a winning tender strategy is preparation along with sufficient resources to write your tender
Timeframes to complete tender response documents – even complex ones (like many government tenders) – have been reducing. Occasionally you’ll get a generous five to six weeks to turnaround to write your tender response, but often it can be as little as 10 business days.
Even with the luxury of a dedicated bid team (and especially if not), you will need plenty of time to gather input from busy fee-earners and subject-matter specialists.
We’ve talked before about how a smart tender strategy is to prepare your evidence in advance. A little preparation goes along way and can save a lot of heartache when trying to prepare complex documentation in extraordinarily tight timeframes.
And you need to respect that not everyone will be able to drop everything to work on the bid. Planning your time and resources is critical if you are to put together a strong a credible tender response (and there’s little point in bidding if you can’t).
If winning work through tenders is important to your firm to win, grow and retain clients, you are not being competitive if you consistently under-resource your tendering capability.
Winning the tender is sometimes the easy part; getting your hands on a good flow of work can be much harder
We’re seeing significant “churn” on many panels across the professions. Overall, the trend is still moving inexorably towards reduced panel sizes. With the rapid concentration of the market, even appointed panel firms feel vulnerable (and they are).
Make sure you establish, build and nurture strong relationships with the key decision makers and consumers at all levels – that is, those people who have the power to choose your firm over others when work becomes available.
Though panel sizes are generally shrinking, (potentially giving you an opportunity for a greater share of work), purchasers often brief the lion’s share of the work to a privileged few.
The Commonwealth Legal Services Multi-Use List outcome is an excellent example of this phenomenon with more than one hundred new, smaller and regional law firms now appointed and theoretically able to serve the government .
But in the three years since establishment of the LSMUL, 89% of external legal work is still going to a handful of big-end of town firms. You can check out the expenditure trend here on page 13.
Ensure you have a tender strategy in place that looks past the documentation and hand-in day to make the most of any panel appointments you’re lucky enough to win. Do this with an action plan and client care program, and deliver those value-added services you promised.
Because even if you can’t be bothered, your competitors will. And they will be the ones who retain that client when the tender cycle comes around again.
Read more about the first step to a better tender strategy (and an increased tender win rate) by downloading a FREE copy of part 1 of our Win more tenders, bids and proposals series.
We can help, please get in touch.
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If you’re new to the world of tenders (or were just curious about the meaning of some common ‘tender’ terms) this is the tender definitions blog for you! What is a ‘tender’? Tender has a few meanings of course (it can mean ‘sensitive’ for instance), but in a commercial context ‘tender’ means preparing and submitting […]