Massive congratulations to WSP ׀ Parsons Brinckerhoff, winners of the 2016 UK APMP People Development award, sponsored by Bid Solutions. Read how they did it…

Winners of the 2017 APMP People Development Award

wsp parsons brinckerhoff
In 2014 WSP acquired Parsons Brinckerhoff and its UK proposals team doubled in size. Their challenge was to integrate people who worked to different processes, procedures and practice.

The management team recognised the need to define a common language for business and invest in its people to improve skills. A dual purpose programme was designed to integrate teams whilst improving proposal quality.

Step 1: Best Practice Training

A leading training provider worked with them to develop a course based on APMP theory. Six successful months of training followed: four UK locations, 50 newly-integrated staff and an average feedback score of 96%.

Step 2: A Competition to Promote Ongoing Best Practice

The impact on bid quality was immediate and showed in bid reviews, but sustaining this required a continued focus and application of best practice.

With a brief to showcase new skills and an incentive of £250, the ‘2016 Best Practice Competition’ was launched.  This was the opportunity to apply and showcase the valuable techniques learned during the training.

Step 3: Integration of Process & Governance

To further support people in making good business decisions, they reviewed process and governance. They took the best from both legacy organisations and introduced improvements that reflected APMP best practice.

The Outcome: A Refreshed Perception

The combined team’s ability to qualify with rationality, influence the impact of a document and develop content has resulted in a renewed respect from technical teams for a professional proposal function.

The Evidence

APMP accreditation has been the backbone of this upskilling initiative and their objective is for all proposals staff, including new starters, to achieve Foundation level.

  • From 18 to 41 people CF APMP in 12 months
  • 13 people progressing to Practitioner, four achieved this during 2016
  • Attendance at eight Foundation courses
  • Hosted two APMP events
  • Inclusion of APMP Practitioner accreditation in a financial incentive scheme to reward professional achievement

Overall win rate increase – increase in win rate of 39% in 12 months.

Their best score yet – 100/100 for quality recently recorded on a bid (combined quality/financial score of 99.55/100).

And here is some of the feedback received…

“The final decision was made in the board room. Your competitors were the recommended consultant. Based on the compelling document and your evident thirst for this project, we selected WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff over them.” Skanska

“If you asked me yesterday to write an introduction to why I’m a relevant Project Manager, it would be very different to the one I’ll write tomorrow. Tomorrow, it will be relevant and benefit rich!” Andy Poole, Following 5 Ways to Improve training

“The submission is extremely compelling.” Darrell Wilson, BDP

The feedback speaks for itself. The focus on people development has empowered WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff to produce powerful proposals, inspired careers and shaped an expert team to deliver the vision to BID LESS, WIN MORE.

I think you will agree with me when I say very worthy and impressive winners. Congratulations from all the team at Bid Solutions!

To view our latest vacancies for bid and proposal professionals, follow this link. To help us connect you with a winner to add to your team, follow this link.


The PQQ is Dead – Long live the SQ!

The PQQ is Dead – Long live the SQ!

On the 9th September 2016 the Crown Commercial Service announced that the standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) may no longer be used in Public Sector procurement and that it must be replaced with a standard Selection Questionnaire (SQ).

It has yet to be adopted in Scotland. However, the SQ must be used immediately by contracting authorities in England and in Wales and Northern Ireland that intend to pursue competitive procurements which are above the EU thresholds and which require pre-selection.

What is a Selection Questionnaire?

The SQ requires a supplier to self-certify its standing against both the exclusions grounds and the key selection criteria. Then, the Authority is only required to verify the winning supplier’s responses.

Nevertheless, it can choose to verify the responses of any suppliers at any stage in the process, if it is concerned that there may be a problem.

The SQ has three parts:
Part 1 – Information about the supplier
Part 2 – Exclusion grounds
Part 3 – Selection criteria

Authorities will not be allowed to change the questions in Parts 1 and 2. They can ask additional, project specific questions which relate to the supplier’s technical and professional ability in Part 3. However, if they want to change the standard Part 3 questions or ask questions beyond this scope, they will only be allowed to do this if they have reported their intentions to the Mystery Shopper Scheme.

The SQ is the latest development in the continuing push to simplify the selection processes and make it easier for SMEs to compete in Public procurements. The questions in the SQ comply with the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) and the CCS has said that Authorities must accept responses provided using the ESPD instead of the SQ, where they are offered.

Straightforward planning
For the Bid and Proposal professional, this move should make our lives a bit easier. Responses to the entire SQ can be pre-prepared. Then, so long as there is a process for keeping the information up to date, responding to Parts 1 and 2 should be a trivial administrative task.

Similarly, much of Part 3 can be pre-prepared, in the same manner as Parts 1 and 2. However, we will still need to create individual responses for project specific questions and tune the content of the other responses to make sure they show our capability for the project in the best light.

Nevertheless, this change will reduce the load on our bid teams and allow them to concentrate on the important stuff – maximising scores against the questions in the full proposal. All we need to do is create our baseline SQ document and then keep it up to date.

Author: Peter Lobl APMP Director, Sixfold International

If you need any more information about the SQ and its impact upon the way you respond to Government procurement opportunities, please call Sixfold International on 01227 860375.

Don’t know your PQQ from your BAFO? We can help!

Being the Bid Hub “Ask the Expert”

Nigel Hudson talks about being one of Bid Solutions panel members at “Ask the Experts” via the Bid Hub

What’s your area of expertise? Does it give you an advantage? Do people come to you for advice? When they do, do you genuinely help them, or does their need just feed your ego? As an expert, it’s not about you; it’s all about what you can do for others.

John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. It was a call to action for the public to do what was right for the greater good, focusing on the relationship between duty and power.

With that in mind, I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been appointed to the Ask the Expert panel at the Bid Solutions-sponsored BidHub. It’s a forum where you can ask questions directly to Europe’s top 15 experts in the field of bid and proposals, and get honest and free advice in return. I’m ‘the guy’ responsible for answering questions about professional development: continual learning, training, career planning, skills analysis and all the things that help you and your team to perform better and achieve your goals.

My first question was from Neal Todosijczuk, who sought to understand the choices regarding a move from employment into consultancy. I gave a detailed answer including ten considerations for becoming a consultant or contractor. My practical (and slightly sobering) advice was a ‘warts and all’ view for anyone thinking of going self-employed, or betting on their expertise as a means of success. It included things like asking why you want to do it, what impact it will have to those around you, and whether you’re as good as you think you are. But it didn’t include the one thing that’s applicable to everyone: that being a consultant doesn’t require you to quit your job and go it alone.

Anyone can be a consultant, either in addition to your job or within it. Each of us has a skill, or insight, or experience, or approach to something that makes us expert. The ‘one thing’ where we’re the natural go-to for advice, either amongst our close network of colleagues and friends, or to a broader audience.
So maybe it’s time to ponder your specific skill set – especially the one thing that sets you apart from the rest and provides your competitive advantage. Perhaps it’s time to become the consultant within your company, for the benefit of everyone around you?

If you have a specific skill that others value, then you are obligated, in my opinion, to use it to help, encourage and inspire them. They’ll see more benefit in learning from a true expert than from one of those job-hopping politically-agile ‘general’ managers who, like the pigeon, land, poop, then fly off again…leaving all manner of mess behind.

Assuming you’ll rise to the challenge, here are 12 pointers to help guide your success:

Know your strength. What one thing are you genuinely excellent (and ideally best) at? Align this to what your internal stakeholders (especially management) value.

Be the trusted advisor. Understand the challenges and motivators of your colleagues and managers. Align your services to what they need most. Be their saviour, their go-to, their trusted advisor.

Make your manager look good. Always remember that, in large organisations especially, managers will be looking to demonstrate their impact and success. There’s also every likelihood that they’ll be competing with other department heads for budget or promotion. The better you can make them look, the more they’ll value you as part of their team. This applies all the way to the top, so no matter how senior the manager is, there will always be someone they’re trying to impress.
Map out your network. Know the influencers who will sing your praise, know your supporters and detractors. Build a fan base. Network every day, meeting new people and keeping existing relationships alive. Set aside a ‘coffee budget’ to buy people drinks and spend time with them informally. Surround yourself with brilliant people, remembering that “we become the average of the five people we most associate with”.

Be visible and active helping others. Be known for what you do best. Be ‘top of mind’ when someone’s in need. And always deliver on your promise.

Be businesslike. Act like a consultant. Package up your services and proactively offer them. Your knowledge and expertise is your product/service, but you’ll need to market them effectively. What’s your brand? How do you operate? What tools and processes do you use? How can you be more efficient and effective than others? How can you build and maintain a competitive advantage?

Share your expertise freely. Use it to build relationships. Arranging meetings with others is easier when there’s something in it for them.
Volunteer, but be selective. Don’t get overloaded with ‘strategic projects’ that will keep you busy and distracted from what matters most.
Know that you’re doing a great job. Prove it first to yourself, then to others. Be confident and keep your chin high. Not everyone will appreciate what you do, and some will be threatened by it. Some crummy line managers seek to use the performance review process as a way of controlling their team, to say “yeah, but…” or indicate that although you met your objectives, the ‘way’ in which you achieved it could be improved. How lame, yet how common. You’re brilliant. Remember that.

Record your results, and the impact you had on others. Track your individual win and capture rates, and compare them to the team or business average. Be knowingly better than the rest, and know why you’re better. Then coach others to be as good as you.
Celebrate success. Keep an eye open for industry awards that your team (more so than you) can enter. When they win, everyone will be delighted, and you’ll be famous.

Stay ahead of the curve. Keep learning, keep stretching yourself, stay proactive with your development, and be the star that others will follow.
So, with this in mind, offer your help to others. And remember that I’m available via BidHub to help you too. So, go on, ask me a question!

View the Bid Hub

Author: Nigel Hudson, Senior Consultant at Strategic Proposals Limited

APMP UK Conference Next Week

Only a week away from the APMP UK conference in Wokefield Park, Reading.

This year the conference is focusing on wide-ranging audiences – how to identify opportunities, influence our customers and achieve true engagement that secures business where everyone wins.

Book Your Place at the APMP UK Conference.

Tickets are still available by clicking here and the Bid Solutions Team will be available throughout the conference to discuss how we can help you and your team find the right people, tools and provide training and consulting solutions that significantly increase your chances of winning new business, whilst delivering a legacy of improved proposal quality.

We are also sponsoring the People Development Award again this year, which is designed to recognise an organisation that has furthered the capability and/or impact of their bid teams to the success of the business. This year’s nominees are EE, Goodman Masson Ltd and WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff and we look forward to announcing the winner.

To view our latest vacancies for bid and proposal professionals, follow this link. To help us connect you with a winner to add to your team, follow this link.