BD tips and insights

How to manage a bid remotely – Part 1 – effective collaboration at a distance

In the wake of the ‘new normal’ COVID-19 has brought we are all learning new techniques and trialling different approaches to managing tenders, bids and proposals.

Many bid teams who would normally work alongside each other have had to drastically adjust as the old onsite collaboration model has (for now) been turned on its head.

While we are lucky to be at a point in time where we have access to some amazing technology tools to manage a bid remotely, it can sometimes feel confusing, slower, more disjointed, and less clear than if we were face-to-face.

Mistaken assumptions, misunderstandings and document management issues are not uncommon. Also, in a scramble to submit by deadline technology can let us down at the 11th hour.

Maybe you can relate to these communication and collaboration challenges when trying to manage a bid remotely:

Ever feel like you’re playing a version of bingo when managing a bid remotely?

JMA’s best practice tips to manage a bid remotely

In this blog series you’ll learn some of JMA’s best practice tips to help you and your team better manage a bid remotely and how to head-off those remote collaboration headaches.

In the coming weeks we will share our best tips on how to remotely manage a bid by focussing on:

  1. communication and collaboration
  2. team morale and welfare
  3. decision making
  4. effective bid file and document management
  5. a centralised bid content library.

Sharpen your focus on consistent communication to drive effective collaboration

Before remote bid team members ‘dive’ into strategising and building a bid response it is critical to agree your communications and decision-making approach as a group upfront.

In addition to your normal bid kick-off session, where the workflow and bid plan are agreed, it’s more important than ever to set down and agree clear ground rules for communication.

After all you can’t just confer on the spot any more and default assumptions around availability need an adjustment.

Start as you mean to go on, and stick to it

At your initial bid kick-off meeting help your remote bid team by adding to the agenda and then discussing and agreeing the communication ground rules at the outset.

Your goal as a group should be to agree the ‘cadence’ of your communications. That is the type of information relayed, frequency and channels of communication and also consider and confirm bid team member roles (or who needs to know or do what, and by when).

A further deliverable might be to agree a strict agenda for complete bid team meetings to ensure those multi-participant sessions stay on track and don’t descend into a talk-fest.

By establishing clear communications at the start of a remotely managed bid you can head-off confusion, delays and frustrations so time can be spent productively and you can be certain of where your bid is up to each day.

EXAMPLE COMMUNICATION & COLLABORATION SCHEDULE TO MANAGE A BID REMOTELY

The cadence of your remote bid communication protocols, frequency and channels may look a little something like this for the early stages of bid development:

.

Further along in the development of your bid and closer to deadline you can:

  • form further sub-groups to meet and agree or review specific bid aspects such as solution design or pricing.
  • add daily video ‘stand up’ meetings (for 15 minutes or less) where your agenda might be for each team member to recap on progress, flag any barriers and agree as a group tasks for that day.
  • move your traditional onsite on-paper ‘tick and flick’ final review session online and handle as a group via video using a screenshare tool and appointing one team member to act as editor to input those final changes.

FURTHER COMMUNICATION TIPS TO MANAGE A BID REMOTELY

  • Ensuring prior (or early) in the life of the bid that each critical team member has access to your organisation’s chosen technologies and adequate home internet (bandwidth and speed) to ensure they can participate in online sessions and access files. This also goes for equipment – can team members access the office for printing and scanning or be provided with equipment for home use?
  • Agreeing the communications tools to be used and sticking to them so time isn’t wasted grappling with different technology each time (e.g. don’t keep swapping between Skype, Teams or Zoom).
  • Preferring wherever possible video calls and making use of features such as screen-sharing to help reduce feelings of isolation and increase feelings of connection.
  • Asking each team member to jump online a few minutes prior to each large group meeting to test their set up (camera, microphone and connection) to double check it’s working as it should – otherwise lots of time can be wasted and spent unproductively (see remote bid management bingo!).
  • If your technology of choice allows it consider recording the sessions or generating a transcript of discussions so those who cannot attend ‘live’ can catch up later and be across any pertinent information or action items.
  • Establishing ground rules for accessing any shared online workspace (e.g. SharePoint or file server) and a simple system or convention around file management naming and housekeeping.
  • Other ‘controls’ you can consider include set agendas for the different meetings you’ll need to have and also considering who in the team will interact with which stakeholders and contributors and how each team member will report back to the group.

While success in managing a bid remotely does require some organisational, technological and cultural shifts if your communication approach remains focussed, organised and positive it is more than possible. And you’ll hopefully avoid the worst of remote bid management video conference bingo!

When this pandemic is over you may even find you ‘keep’ some of the more effective and positive aspects of remote bid management adopted out of necessity by choice.

For more tips on bid planning and designating bid team roles see JMA’s blogs on: Tender planning: don’t hit go before you’re ready and set  and How to run a kick-off meeting for your tender, bid or proposal.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of How to manage a bid remotely where we share tips on how to keep up your remote bid team’s morale in these uncertain times; and in the meantime, if your bid team needs a boost or further advice on how to manage a bid remotely please get in touch.

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