A lot of my clients don’t have bid managers. Some don’t need them but some definitely do. This piece takes a peak at the role of the bid manager. At the end of it you should have an idea of whether you need one or not.
1. When to appoint a Bid Manager
Each bid should be viewed as an individual project with one person fulfilling a bid management role. If your organisation spends a large amount of time tendering for business each year you should consider appointing a full time bid manager.
If you only respond to a small number it’s best to identify someone, or a number of people, with the appropriate skill set and ask them to carry out the role as needed.
If you are a small business then the owner or managing partner should take responsibility for managing the bid.
2. The ideal skillset
Here are a number of skills that the ideal bid manager should have:
- Project Management
- Business Design / Analysis
Trying to find someone with good project management, design, technical writing and marketing skills is difficult, and as the Rolling Stones say:
You can’t always get what you want.Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Given that good project managers and marketeers exist within their own functional and mental silos it’s rare to find someone with a good grasp of both roles. You also want someone who is curious and creative. A lot of people have that beaten out of them when they enter the work force.
In my experience people who read broadly and have an interest in the arts are more than likely to have a novel take on things than someone who has had his or her head stuck in a Prince 2 manual for a lot of their career.
Whoever winds up fulfilling the bid management role should be aware of where their strengths lie and look for assistance wherever their skill-set is lacking.
3. The right person for the role?
There are plenty of high-calibre bid management professionals working in organisations today – just not enough of them. The companies that take the role seriously and invest in the people and their organisational-wide support are the ones that win bids.
In my experience the organisations who don’t take business development seriously typically appoint either one of the following profiles for the role:
1. The Derailed
Staff who have derailed and have been side-lined due to any number of reasons.
2. Junior Staff
Junior people who are ambitious and energetic for the role and ask them to run with it. This makes a lot of sense if they have the raw talent and have good instinctive project management skills.
Given what’s at stake, does it make sense to entrust such an important position to a junior or someone who has derailed and may not be committed? If the person is well supported by senior management with a very strong account director then this could potentially work.
Otherwise, for high value opportunities, you should look at the mix of skills required and see where they reside in your team. Appoint your best project manager along with a team equipped with good design, marketing and writing sills, and incentivise them all to produce the best bid possible.
4. Bid Manager Responsibilities
The bid manager will typically examine each opportunity and make an initial assessment as to whether it is in the organisation’s interest to engage in a bidding process. If the bid manager decides that it is in the company’s interest, he or she will put together a business case and present it at a formal bid qualification meeting.
In the event that the executive / senior management team decide to pursue the opportunity, the bid manager will then follow a structured process that looks after the following areas:
- Role and responsibility allocation
- Gap analysis, and the identification of bid deliverables and activities
- Document structuring, template building and control
- Review meeting schedule
- Quality assurance
- Document finalisation, sign-off and submission
- Post-award debriefing.
Bid managers own the master document and control all changes. Their good business analysis, technical writing and marketing ability means that they have the skills to write the key pieces of the document.
Ideally they will have a very good understanding of your business and the type of products and service models you specialise in.
In the event that they do not have the capacity or expertise to write about a particular area they allocate the writing responsibility to an internal or external subject matter expert, or else interview them in order to elicit the relevant information.
On receiving the piece from the subject matter expert they incorporate it into the document in a fashion that is consistent with the rest of the content.
3. Bid Management and Staff Turnover
If you decide to appoint a full time bid manager beware that due to the unrelenting and pressurised nature of the role there can be a high level of turnover. If you are a large organisation who responds to a number of bids concurrently it may be wise to have a number of bid managers working across these opportunities.
There are occasions when companies are involved in consecutive bid processes that continue throughout the year. It heaps pressure not only onto bid managers but also operations staff who are required to support them as well as carry out their own day-to-day work. Sooner or later all the late hours and junk food takes its toll with a series of resignations.
Want to Know More?
If you would like to know more about the role of the bid manager and how to win more contracts click on the link below to arrange a chat. This free health check provides you with tailored insights into how your business development process is performing and how you can improve it. It only takes two minutes…