In Part 1 of this series we discussed the importance of focussed and consistent communication with your remote bid team – setting agendas, regular meetings and consistent tools or channels.
In Part 2 we covered-off managing less formal interactions and the importance of keeping up remote bid team morale.
Now, in Part 3 of How to manage a bid remotely we’ll look at some ways of managing key bid decisions while your bid team is remote.
Tenders, bids and proposals require lots of key decisions, sometimes hundreds of them
Anyone who’s ever been involved in a tender, bid or proposal will know it’s often surprising just how many key bid decisions are required along the way. And I’m not just talking about deciding ‘who’ will be responsible for drafting various components of your bid.
For many businesses its often the first time they’ve had to document their service plan or project methodology or ‘solution’ for a particular client.
Or, sometimes a bid will request information on a new area for your business. ‘New’ inputs will need to be considered, decided and created and potentially throw up further questions for your organisation and even more key bid decisions not previously contemplated.
Your business will need to ‘get its story straight’ in order to set out a convincing approach or solution should you win the work. That is, your business will need to ‘decide’ how it’ll actually work in real life once you win the gig.
See our blog on creating an effective service plan:
GET SMART: create an effective client service plan with your next tender
Over reliance on a single decision maker when managing key bid decisions remotely is a problem
Unless your organisation is very large often key decisions relating to a bid will vest with a single decision maker.
Whether its developed through a more authoritarian ‘command’ organisational structure, or a deferential culture, or as a matter of convenience, many bidders inadvertently create a log jam by having just one senior person responsible for managing all key bid decisions or approvals.
Often this single decision maker is the CEO, managing partner or other executive leader who is usually very busy with a full workload.
Normally, if a team is all onsite together, availability and access to that decision maker is not too much of a problem, as you can just ‘pop down and see X’ to get the quick input required to progress your bid.
At present though, a lack of easy access and ‘visibility’ of team members (including key decision maker/s) can be problematic as we illustrated in Part 1’s remote bid management bingo:
No real ongoing visibility makes it is extremely difficult to clear up misunderstandings…
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.
Further compounding the remote aspect is a need to be conscious of over-allowing on turnaround times. When managing key bid decisions in the past you may have be used to ‘on the spot’ rulings from your decision maker, but for now, that way of working is over.
As we flag in Part 2:
Don’t be a ‘last minuter’ and dump urgent tasks on colleagues.
Be reasonable and over-allow on your regular turnaround times by building in extra buffer-time.
Extra patience is called for as some of your colleagues may be managing multiple other commitments (e.g. home schooling) or be in back-to-back virtual meetings and cannot provide immediate input you previously received.
So, what else can your organisation do to improve remote management of key bid decisions?
If you find your bids are being hampered due to trouble accessing your ‘usual’ decision maker there is a solution, but it does require a bit of a cultural shift for some organisations.
JMA recommends you diffuse bid decision-making away from a single onsite decision maker and involve other team members.
To do this as part of your new kick-off process around communication protocols we suggest after thoroughly reviewing the request you diffuse decision-making by enlisting support and delegating decisions or approvals to your firm’s subject matter experts and other management specialists (e.g. HR, IT) who can help answer or even sign-off sections relevant to their area.
While it is good for a senior figurehead to be ‘across’ major strategic decisions, most larger organisations have dedicated experts in-house, who are a ‘safe’ pair of hands, you may as well consult them.
This approach not only reduces the risk of overreliance on a single decision maker but a positive by-product is that by opening up decision-making you’ll finding your wider team becomes more invested in the success of this bid and in winning bids going forward.
Further remote bid decisioning tips include:
- Ensure your previous ‘sole’ decision maker gives those team members the authority to make decisions and take ownership of their delegated task. Senior management ‘backing’ will help avoid the temptation to keep delegating back up to the original single decision maker.
- Again, be extra organised, considerate and aware of turnaround times on requests for input and do not expect immediate responses. Do let your team know early that you’ll need help and factor in a longer than normal turnaround on input.
PUTTING IT INTO PRACTISE – EXAMPLE REMOTE BID COMMUNICATIONS & DECISION MAKING MODEL
A good model from the world of project management you might consider implementing for remote bid management communications, decision making and deliverables is the RACI model:
For more practical tips also see our blog on: How to run a kick-off meeting for your tender, bid or proposal
The COVID-19 pandemic will have lasting impacts on many aspects of operations and business culture, some more positive than others, perhaps a new ‘team approach’ to managing key bid decisions will be a become the norm in your business.
If you need help managing a bid remotely, 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 […]