If your professional services firm wants to win work with government, insurer, banking, telecommunications, or large corporate clients, it’s increasingly important to have documented firm policies and procedures in place.
Requesting copies of your policies and procedures is becoming very common in RFTs. Tenderers want to gauge risk, as well as assess how efficiently and effectively your firm operates. Policies also help confirm that your firm is compliant with current and relevant workplace legislation, regulation, and codes of practice – especially important if you want to work with government.
But it’s not just about meeting RFT requirements and winning work. Documented policies and procedures offer long-term business benefits. They guide decision-making and service delivery, clarify functions and responsibilities, and provide your firm with direction, continuity, and stability.
Are you the hare or the tortoise?
How prepared are you to address requests for firm policies and procedures?
I have seen clients rush to write credible and robust policies, from scratch, in the middle of a tender process, because they don’t have even the most basic policies in place at their firm. They are not unlike the hare of Aesop’s fable – ill-prepared, and too reliant on being able to just scrape through.
The tortoise firms are those that have developed their policies and documented their processes over time, and they will be in a stronger position at tender time.
Some RFTs will challenge even prepared firms with strange requests. In recent RFTs, tenderers have requested copies of all kinds of policies and procedures, from the mundane (work health and safety) to the obscure (ethical trading policy).
And as firms work more and more in the digital and mobile world, and in the cloud, there is greater focus on data and information security. A recent RFP not only asked if firms had an information security policy, but also required responses to 60 questions relating to both data and physical security of information.
Here are a few of the other common – and not so common – policies and procedures that have been requested in RFTs:
- anti-bribery and anti-corruption
- business continuity
- code of conduct
- complaints and disputes management
- conflicts of interest
- data security
- disaster recovery
- environmental policy
- fair employment practices
- mobile security
- risk management framework
- social media and email policy
- sustainable development policy.
Even when copies of policies are not specifically requested, having documented approaches to important business functions and services (including confidentiality, client feedback, service standards) will give you a competitive edge.
And best of all, you can prepare well before the next tender or bid is released.
Tender readability remains a problem for some in the 21st century. I still see submission documents that cling to a handful of really old hat tender presentation and formatting techniques. I suspect this is because some of these ‘rules’ are viewed as being more appropriate to a ‘formal’ style of document such as a tender. […]