When working with external bid partners, an external bid writing provider can increase your chances of winning an NHS contract, especially when internal resources are stretched. But are you getting the most out of the relationship?
Managed well, a good external partner can help to raise your organisation’s game not just for the current tender but for future projects too. Left to operate in a vacuum, even the best partner may struggle to maximise their value-add.
Here’s how a bit of planning and some basic “housekeeping” can make things work better for everyone;
- Avoid eleventh hour decisions. A week before a submission deadline is not an ideal time to be engaging an external bid partner for the first time. Ideally, a new partner needs time to get to know your organisation and its services and your bid management processes. Your own team also need to have a clear understanding of how partner staff will be engaging with them.
- If possible, your first engagement with any potential partner should be right at the start of a non-critical bid. This allows the “rules of engagement” to be properly established with the whole project team. It also gives the partner the time to understand your organisation and you the opportunity to observe the way the company works and to assess fully the quality of their thinking and their output.
- Give a thorough partner briefing. Whether this is the first project with a partner or the hundredth, a good briefing is essential. Make sure your partner knows exactly what is required, when it is required and who within your organisation is to be involved. Encourage questions. Document the required deliverables and timescales or ask your partner to do so.
- Give a thorough internal briefing. Ensure that all staff the partner may contact are aware of the project and the timelines. Stress the significance of the project. Remember that most staff view tenders as a distraction and will need to be encouraged to provide their time. Introduce key staff members to your external partner at least by email.
- Leverage your partner’s experience and objectivity. Having an experienced third party reviewing procedures and protocols is a rare opportunity to gather new ideas. Encourage your partner to ask the “why do you do it that way?” type-of-questions which simply don’t occur to internal staff schooled in your organisation’s way of doing things. This may not yield breakthroughs for the current tender but this sort of dialogue does unlock new ideas and encourages fresh thinking.
- Get feedback from your team. Once the bid has been submitted seek feedback from internal staff, irrespective of the result. Ask them what they thought of the partner and how they would feel about using them again on another project. This gives you further insight into the performance of the partner and also shows your team that their views matter. Of course, if you ask for feedback, be prepared to act upon it!
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