Sometimes, these practices won’t be enough to manage demand, such as in the offender healthcare example above. When you are faced with working on multiple, qualified tenders, all of which require pressing responses – this is the time to bring in external resources. Even here, however, you will hopefully have done some forward planning and will have identified – and indeed already worked with – one or more external providers. The eleventh hour on a collection of critical bids is not the ideal time to be sounding out untested external partners.
Long before it gets to this stage, engage with a likely provider on a small, non-critical project as a test. See how the provider works, assess the quality of their output and give them some feel for your own organisation. If you like what you see, then you have a relationship you can build on.
In addition to sheer volume of work there is another occasion when you should consider bringing in an external provider. If you believe you have a strong service offering, but your win ratio is very low, then you may want to ask an external company for an objective review of your next bid, before you submit.
A common mistake in bid responses is not answering “the exam question”. Even where you are very familiar with your service – indeed perhaps because you are so familiar with a service – it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone understands what you do while you haven’t actually addressed the specifics in a question. Always assume that the ‘reader’ knows nothing about your service.
In summary, whether or not you use external bid resources, you can save a lot of time and effort by following the simple practises outlined above. By testing external providers in advance, you can be confident of having the right resources to rely upon when you most need them. In the next blog, we’ll talk about how to get the best from your relationship with an external bid provider, once you’ve made a decision to engage.