Business StrategyOperations & QualityPeople & ManagementStrategy & Leadership

Be prepared to back up what you say with evidence

I often see tender submissions and proposals which are well constructed and in tune with what the customer is looking for but despite this the bidder can’t back their answers up with evidence of actual achievement.

The answers therefore come across as ‘aspirational’. They give the impression that this is what they would like to do rather than what they have actually done.

Ten years ago it was possible to get away with this, but these days customers and their evaluators are more commercially savvy. They are using evaluation criteria which awards marks for both understanding and evidence with an emphasis on the latter as they want to see the proof. It adds credibility to your bid.

You might say “We haven’t got the material or the evidence!”

From my experience of helping companies win contracts, I quite often hear this, but more often than not the evidence does exist. It is just a case of asking the right questions and looking in the right places to find the little gems of information and data that will pick up the marks.

I have created a comprehensive set of questions for the more common types of questions asked and use these to help my clients realise that they do in fact have some great examples of performance and evidence of competence that can be used to produce compelling material to use in tenders and proposals.

They just need to implement a process for systematically capturing useful material or data on every project and building up a library of well written case studies that can be used in pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs), tenders and proposals.

Another common mistake that organisations make is to use evidence of achievements from projects which are not relevant to the type of work required by the customer. A fantastic case study for a new factory is not really that relevant for the refurbishment of an occupied housing block is it?

Performance data is threadbare

Many Request for Proposals (RFPs) and Invitations to Tender (ITTs) request details about your performance management system. They are interested in:

  • what you measure
  • what results you have achieved
  • what you do with the information and
  • what actions you are taking to improve your performance

Have you ever received low scores for the performance management section of pre-qualifications and tenders? Have you wondered why this is?

If this has happened to you then I hope you already know the answer. You can’t pick up many marks if you’ve got very little (or nothing) to show the customer.

In my experience I would say that 8 out of 10 bidders have poor records when it comes to measuring and capturing performance data and 3 of these have none at all.

Most bidders submit:

  • no data at all
  • just the little bits of data they have
  • or they try to bulls**t their way through this section

Needless to say, they absolutely bomb on this aspect of their submission. It can often make the difference between overall success and failure.

Designing and implementing a simple, easy to use performance management system that generates a gold mine of useful data which you can use in your tenders is a relatively straight forward process and guess what?….it improves your performance and profitability as well! Despite this, so few organisations have one.