Behind every Invitation to Tender is unspoken subtext. This article surfaces the factors that help design a Construction Contractor bidding strategy and identify the true value of the opportunities your company is faced with. Naturally there are no-brainer elements that will impact your decision-making process such as your available resources, project size, conflicting commitments and so on. So, here is a simple checklist to keep your bidding strategy on point when responding to the next ITT.
1 – Who else is involved in the project?
œKnowledge is power – a famous adage quoted by Sir Francis Bacon, Tom Clancy, David Bailey¦ and many more. It turns out they were all on to something. By unearthing exactly who else is part of this project and to what extent, cross-referenced with a business’ knowledge of third-parties involved, a bidding strategy has a third-dimension that can be leveraged. Payment terms, economies of scale and bad reputations are just some of the new considerations that will help decide whether the project now has added risk or added reward.
2 – Who are we competing with?
Brits tend to be awfully polite in competitive situations within the workplace and accept that some information is on a need-to-know basis. It’s time to consciously kick that habit. Who are you up against? How many times have you been head-to-head with them before and what’s the been the previous outcomes? Just like the pre-match stats on the BBC Sport website; visualise a dashboard of recent relevant history. Who’s currently on form, what playing conditions are optimum for either side and what angles can you take advantage of? The knowledge is in the organisation somewhere; the trick is everyone getting into the habit of sharing it. There is Construction CRM software that can do that for you.
3 – What is our relationship with the client?
At the very least, the answer to this will help you decide whether you price yourself out of the tender or go full steam ahead. Tenders by nature are designed to be as numeric and quantitative as possible, but ultimately it is a human doing the scores. So take the opportunity to capitalise on your personal relationships. Do you know why they might prefer you to other clients? Or even vice versa? Finding out the details of the full relationship from your colleagues puts you in a much better position and bring to light examples of requirement creep, project mishaps or delayed payments will massively help shape your decision, or set up prerequisites to your bid.
4 – What is their history with us?
Similar to above, knowing the extent of history with the client will impact how you approach your response to tender. This is where it pays to keep records of EVERYTHING (even the stuff that doesn’t feel relevant at the time.) Bids won, bids lost, resource spent on winning bids, and losing bids, who else has submitted a bid, any disputes once the project went live¦ the list goes on. By documenting and having quick access to historic meeting minutes and actions, there areopportunities to understand how susceptible the client is to things like embracing new technology and innovations or design and build models. Intelligence surrounding how quick or slow the client is at decision making will also determine what is proposed and how.
5 – Who are the other influencers?
Identifying all external and indirect influencers of a project is one of the trickier tasks. Sleeping partners, associate directors and non-executive staff may all have their opinions on the subject, and your tender submission has to impress all of them. Knowing who is involved, and by how much is completely worth the time and effort.
6 – What do relationships with third-parties involve?
A solid understanding of client relationships is essential, but what about your business’ relationships across the supply chain and with local authorities, architects, consultants and planners etc.? Maintaining positive working relationships is helpful, but being absolutely certain about affiliations is what is required when the company’s future is being committed in the form of a bid.
7 – Do we have a competitive advantage? (can we differentiate from the competition?)
Before putting pen to paper, highlight the company’s strengths. That’s the organisation’s overall strengths as well as project specific strengths and advantages. Cross-reference those with competitors’ in a project SWOT analysis and voila! They are the factors that need to be laboured in the bid. Can’t find any niches? Ask how suited the organisation is for this project.
8 – What is the procurement process?
Get the client to confirm the timescales of each round. Competitive costs are based on available resource, and not being able to lock down those resources is a threat to their costs¦ or the project’s margins.
9 – What do we need to invest in terms of bid costs?
By keeping a detailed account of every tender submission, failed or successful, eventually patterns and trends will form, if the information is stored systematically. This information will decide how to approach and value future opportunities. The trick is to let software do the hard work and answer this question.
10 – Do we have a good chance of winning?
A logical question with a simple answer, in theory. Answering all of the questions above should give the business a good feeling about each potential opportunity. And if the questions are uncomfortable to answer, it’s likely that the tender doesn’t fit. As always, technology is the future of construction. Embrace software to harness and share business-wide knowledge that helps decide your chances for you. All of the above questions can be answered quickly and effectively with construction-specific software like Build 365.
Build 365 is Microsoft Dynamics 365 functionality customised specifically for construction contractors. It is designed to make bid processes, client relations and business development pipelines easy to manage, monitor and using Microsoft’s easy-to-navigate Office 365 style interface. Download our free Technology for Contractor Business Development whitepaper as seen in Construction News to see how Contractorsuse software to transform the way opportunities are identified, managed and won.