Many small businesses are held back from tendering for government contracts by their lack of written down policies and procedures. In fact, these organisations usually do have definite views on how they ensure quality, keep their staff safe and so on – which is the essence of a policy. Getting help to articulate and write down your policies and procedures will help you overcome the barriers to many new opportunities.
Why do I need policies and procedures?
Tendering bodies seek to appoint contractors they can trust to provide an acceptable and consistent standard of goods or services. Your policies and procedures provide evidence that you can do this based on systematic processes built on clear principles.
A policy is a description of your business’s beliefs and attitudes towards specific business issues such as pricing, managing staff and protecting the environment. Policies are the basis for how you make decisions and take action in a rational and consistent way.
Procedures show how policies will be implemented and usually appear as a series of steps to be followed.
Why should I take time out to write policies?
Preparing policies and procedures is rarely appealing to small or new organisations preoccupied with their core business. However, policies and procedures are actually fundamental to how the business operates every day and is critical to business growth.
Documentation will enable small businesses to participate in tendering opportunities and grow. The possibility of establishing regular cash flows through ongoing contracts with reliable organisations, especially government, is usually very attractive.
With clear policies and procedures, business owners will understand their business better and be better able to delegate jobs and responsibilities. Policies and procedures also lay the ground work for ISO certification down the track, should that be relevant.
What help can I get?
Working with you, an experienced tender writer can tease out your key policies and procedures and write them up in a form that truly reflects your business. This is best done when you have a specific tender in mind to apply for – to provide a deadline and incentive. Over time you will build up a library of policies and procedures to use in tenders and to help grow your business in general.
A template of answers to typical tender questions will save you time and stress, improve quality and enable you to bid for more tenders.
I’ve written this before, somewhere…
How many times have you had that déjàvu feeling then wrestled with yourself about whether to write it again, or go hunting though your files?
Drafting strong answers to questions about customer service, project management, quality and continuous improvement, innovation, risk management and so on takes time and effort. These questions appear regularly in tenders so keep a record of your best answers at hand to assist in future tender applications.
How to create a tender template
Setting up a tender template takes a bit of work but will pay dividends over time. Here are the main steps:
Review your past tenders
Create a plainly formatted document laying out the common questions
Pull out the best answers and drop them under the common questions
Write a single answer for each question drawing on the best parts of the collected answers
Keep this template somewhere handy, like your desktop
Update the template when you encounter a new question or variant
When to customize answers
Template answers provide a great start but must be customized to suit specific tenders. Make sure you read tender questions carefully and identify the key points to be addressed. Modify the template answer to cover off on all of these points and add it to your template.
Get input from a specialist
A specialist tender writer can create a tender template for you, polish up your template or simply provide advice on specific answers.
Please call me on 0402 346 038 or email me on email@example.com to discuss your needs and obtain a quote for any of these services. Please attach relevant documentation.
The skill of a tender writer lies in using your industry knowledge to create and communicate a compelling proposition to the tendering body.
Does my tender writer have to know my industry?
Engaging a tender writer who has limited knowledge of your industry can be an advantage mainly because the content is much less distracting. This enables more objective analysis of tender questions and appraisal of answers. Irrelevant detail can be identified more easily.
As an outsider, a tender writer’s ‘dumb’ questions often provoke clients to think outside the box and come up with innovative concepts or new insights. Clients certainly know a lot more about their business after writing a tender.
Is writing all that a tender writer does?
‘Writing the tender’ usually requires rather more than filling out the forms. Here are some of the areas in which a skilled tender writer can assist.
Whether a given tender aligns with your business directions and strengths needs consideration. Realistically assessing the tender’s suitability and your chances avoids unnecessary expense and disappointment.
Clarifying your strengths in relation to the tender enables these to be reinforced throughout the tender response. Likewise weaknesses, once identified, can be minimized.
Policies, procedures and plans are often called for and may need to be written or updated.
Knowing where to start, what the end point looks like, how to work around obstacles and what might go wrong along the way – are crucial to completing a quality tender document on time and on budget.
Are tender documents the same regardless of industry?
Document formats and content vary between tendering bodies (federal, state, local government and corporate) rather than by industry or the services sought. All tender documentation has certain components such as tender conditions, specification/scope of services etc. Experience shows which parts are the most important, which are standard and how the parts relate to each other. Anything unusual stands out clearly.
Contact BidWriter to discuss you next tender and see how I can help.
Small businesses can make time by engaging a professional tender writer such as BidWriter to prepare important tenders. Using your input, BidWriter will draft then finalize your tender response, while you get on with your main business.
How much time will be required and when?
A polished response to a typical tender is best achieved over about 2-3 weeks (not full time). Your time commitment will usually be:
About 2 hours for an initial conversation to discuss your business and the tender in hand and agree on a schedule;
Time to review the first draft (which is written for you) and think about it;
A second conversation of up to 2 hours to address any outstanding issues; and
Time to review the final proposal, sign it and submit to the tendering body.
We will keep in touch by email and phone as needed.
Will we meet face to face?
We will need to talk at some length at the beginning and one more time during the development process. It’s great if this can be in person, in which case BidWriter will usually come to you. Otherwise we can talk via Skype or simply by phone.
How flexible is the schedule to fit it in with other commitments?
The sooner we initiate the process, the easier it is to flex around your other commitments. We’ll agree a schedule up front. The main delays tend to be documenting your policies and procedures (usually required in tenders) and obtaining referee reports.