Author: Lisa Easthope

Creating unexpected value through outcome-based procurement – webinar

APM Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) offer a forum for collaboration and knowledge development in all areas of project, programme and portfolio management. They have a panel-based webinar scheduled on the 4th May from 12.40 to 13.45 to discuss practical lessons for project managers, bidders and procurement people.

The purpose of projects is to enable or deliver benefits. The measure of benefits is value. So shouldn’t Project Managers, the Procurement function and the market (bidders) be partners in a process whose objective is to identify, quantify, and maximize Value? But how can this work?
This panel-based webinar explores how a collaborative approach to procurement based on contracting for outcomes, can deliver and quantify value. The three protagonists represent:

Project managers who are now measured just as much on the value they deliver, as well as against the traditional time, cost and quality.
The Procurement function, who have to demonstrate value and compliance. This becomes harder when using outcome based procurement approaches instead of just best economic value (lowest cost) for a given specification.
Business development who need to demonstrate value in proposals. Winning bidders are those who show superior value and can quantify the benefits supported by proofs.

The panellists are all experienced practitioners and thought leaders in their field.

Benefits of attending.

Attendees will:
• Learn about the state of the art and limitations on outcomes based procurement.
• Hear examples of good practice from real-world practitioners.
• Learn proven techniques to identify, and quantify the value of benefits.
• Be able to recognise pitfalls and issues to address when applying these techniques at work.

The interactive agenda will include time for questions on topics raised.

Speakers:
Darren Knowd is the Chief Procurement Officer at Durham County Council who were awarded the Cabinet Office first ever award for Social Value Leadership for an Organisation in 2016.
Darren leads all procurement activity at the County Council who spend over £500m annually in supplies, services and works. He also represents the North East region on the LGA National Advisory Group for Local Government Procurement.
He was previously Head of Procurement at several District Councils prior to the establishment of the unitary council in 2009 and during this period he completed his MBA at Durham University Business School.

Tony Birch is Managing Director of Shipley Limited, a consultancy that provides organisations and individuals with consulting and training services focused on winning business in highly competitive environments.
He is a Fellow of the APMP and was one of the architects and creators of the APMP Certification scheme.

Hugo Minney PhD, is a Registered Project Professional and committee member of the APM Benefits SIG.
Hugo is Chief Executive of TyneHealth, a GP Practice federation serving two million patients. He is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM) and an accredited practitioner of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) Model.

Dr Jon Broome is the managing consultant for leading edge projects consulting ltd and chair of the APM Contracts & Procurement SIG.
He has hands-on experience of contributing to innovative procurements, both on the client and contractor side. Jon co-edited the soon to be released ‘APM’s Guide to the Procurement and Management of Contracts for Projects and Programmes’, which includes the trend towards outcome based procurements and contracts.

To book a place on the webinar please follow this link – https://www.apm.org.uk/event/creating-unexpected-value-through-outcome-based-procurement/

Qvidian Unveils Winners of Annual Customer Excellence Awards

Winners, including global enterprises Cisco and Verizon, were announced last week at Qvidian’s annual user conference.

Qvidian, the leading provider of cloud-based RFP and proposal automation software, announced the winners of the Connect17 Awards, its annual customer excellence awards. The winning individuals were honored last week at Connect17, Qvidian’s annual user conference, held this year in Tampa, Florida.

Considering five unique categories, the Qvidian management and customer relations teams choose individual users and Qvidian champions who have driven business value and innovation in their enterprises with the help of Qvidian’s RFP and proposal automation software. Two individuals at Cisco and Verizon were repeat winners, having won Connect awards in unique categories two years in a row.

Winners of the Connect17 Awards include:

Innovator of the Year – Honors the person who has driven exceptional innovation within his or her team or organization by seeking out new and creative ways to utilize Qvidian. For the second year in a row, Qvidian honored Darrell Woodward from Verizon with an award.

Business Growth – After 40 years as primarily a provider of specialty assessments, Questar set an ambitious goal to become the premier provider of high-stakes grades 3–8 state-wide assessments. In June of 2015 — and within six months of fully implementing Qvidian — Questar won Mississippi’s state-wide assessment contract. The State of New York awarded Questar its state contract over their incumbent assessment provider shortly thereafter, and less than a year after that, Tennessee followed suit.

Business Transformation – Designed to recognize the individual who played a key role in questioning the status quo and drove transformational change and process improvements in his or her organization as supported by Qvidian. This year, Qvidian chose to award two individuals from ABM with the award, Mike Rembish and Chloe Degen. ABM implemented Qvidian while aligning the business to different vertical markets. Mike Rembish and his team established a Centre of Excellence to more effectively cross-sell products in the vertical markets, with Qvidian as a key part of that move to a segmented approach.

Qvidian Superstar – Recognises an outstanding advocate for Qvidian, who evangelizes the role of the proposal writer both inside their organization and outside of it. Marcel Schwarz from Cisco was a repeat award winner this year. Schwarz and his group collected business requirements from different units within Cisco to determine how the services layer of the organization could help each one. Based on that research, the team developed a plan and gained buy-in from different product groups and functions across the company to fund an enterprise license. Now all of Cisco shares access to Qvidian, ensuring consistency and accuracy in selling a vast number of complex products.

Value Achievement – A special category for individuals at organizations who have implemented Qvidian within the last 12 months and in that short time have already driven ROI from usage of the software. Qvidian chose Maureen Holtzclaw from FIS for this award. Holtzclaw was part of a team that launched Qvidian to enable the organization to respond to business growth.

Qorus Software Moves Up 10 Spots in GeekWire 200

Qorus, the company that helps organisations become more efficient when creating business-critical documents, has once again been listed in GeekWire 200, moving up 10 spots from last year.

Qorus, the Seattle-based company that helps organisations be more efficient when creating business-critical documents, is pleased to announce that it has placed 113th in GeekWire 200.

GeekWire 200 is a ranked index of Pacific Northwest start-ups using publicly available data to identify the tech companies most popular and trending among key online communities. The ranking is generated each month from GeekWire’s Startup List, a comprehensive directory of the region’s tech start-ups.
Qorus offers a range of Microsoft-based solutions that increase productivity when creating and collaborating on business-critical documents like pitches, proposals, RFPs, SoWs, contracts, and more. In 2016, the company released a suite of productivity-boosting add-ins for Office 365: Email Builder, Document Builder and Slide Builder, all of which are available from the Office Store.

Visit the Office store at http://bit.ly/2lIna0b

Ray Meiring, CEO of Qorus Software: “I am delighted that Qorus has been recognized by GeekWire again this year. We have been working hard on our new suite of products, and we’re pleased that this work is creating a buzz among key online communities.”

Meiring was featured on GeekWire’s Startup Spotlight in December 2016. Read the full interview here: http://www.geekwire.com/2016/qorus/

Interview Guide for Candidates

Interviewing for a new role can be immensely stressful. A lot of the time, the more you want the role, the more stressful it becomes, as you place added pressure on yourself to secure the position. Being stressed or nervous before an interview, however, is normal – you are not alone. In order to take some of the pressure of your shoulders, you can ensure that you are fully prepared for the meeting.

It is the same with any business presentation. You wouldn’t turn up to a client meeting unprepared (I hope not, anyway) and as such you treat your interview the same way. Rather than selling the business, you are selling yourself. Granted, not everyone has conducted client meetings before, so here are some tips to get you through your interview.

Before the Interview

Preparing for an interview takes time. Frantically reading through notes on the train or while you are sat in reception won’t cut it. You will need to research the company extensively to ensure you can confidently communicate what you know about them and to display a real desire to work there. It’s a classic question, ‘what do you know about us?’ or ‘why do you want to work here?’ By reviewing their website and recent news articles, you should be able to answer these questions a lot easier.

Your research shouldn’t stop at the organisation but should extend to who you are meeting. LinkedIn is a powerful tool in this regard and is used by jobseekers and hiring managers everywhere – don’t worry about being seen to have viewed someone’s profile, it is almost to be expected.

Know your CV and the job description inside out and bring both with you to the interview. Having to look across the table at your printed CV to understand what the hiring team are referring to will come across as disorganised. Know your career dates and any key achievements stats by heart, so you can quickly roll them out when asked. Being able to articulate how you mirror the job description will go down very well and through asking searching questions, you will demonstrate real enthusiasm for the role.

During the Interview

Make a good first impression! Ensure you are well presented and dressed smartly. Try on your interview outfit a couple of days before the meeting to check that it still fits – we’ve had an unfortunate situation where a candidate had to attend his interview in casual attire as his suit no longer fit him! Plan your journey beforehand and if possible, do a dry run so you know exactly where you are going. Try to arrive approximately 15 minutes early, as this will allow you time to compose yourself before the meeting.

Smile and make eye contact with everyone you meet. Be personable and attentive throughout. From start to finish, your body language will be scrutinised, so be open! Crossed arms and defensive postures will not serve you well. When answering questions, maintain eye contact with the interviewer, or if it is a panel interview, address each person. I’ve had an interview where I have asked a question and the candidate stared at my colleague while answering. Safe to say, that didn’t go down well with either of us.

If you are offered a drink at the start of the interview, take it, even if you aren’t thirsty. You will be speaking for nearly an hour, so your mouth will likely get dry which could affect your concentration. As well as this, taking a drink will allow you extra time to think of an answer when asked a challenging question.

When answering questions, be sure to be concise and to the point. Waffling will come across as disorganised and displays a lack of focus. Answer the question that you have been asked (like with any bid) and provide examples and evidence to back up your response. Don’t spend time talking about skills or experience that they haven’t asked about. They may well come to these later, at which point you will be repeating yourself. Or, they don’t want to know about those skills as they aren’t relevant to the role. You are likely to be asked about why you are looking to leave your current role. Be constructive in your response and do not criticise your current or previous employers. Instead, do your best to flip it round and talk about the opportunity on offer, how it excites you and what you can bring.

At the end of each interview, you are likely to be given time to ask questions yourself. Ensure you have a list of these prepared, to the point that you have more than you think you need. The interviewer may cover a lot of the topics, so you don’t want to be left with nothing to say. Asking questions about the role, the team and company culture will display real interest. Remember, this is an interview. It’s a two way meeting and you should treat it as such. Explore the opportunity and ask questions to find out what you need to know to assess if the role and company is right for you.

More guidance on interview questions can be found here: https://bidsolutions.co.uk/candidates/job-seekers-guide/interview-questions/

After the Interview

As the interview draws to a close, ask about next steps. This will provide you with a feel for timescales and how committed they are to hiring. As well as this, don’t be afraid to ask if they have any concerns about you as a candidate. Knowing this will allow you to allay these fears at the next meeting, or if you have time, at the close of the first meeting.

If you have more questions following the interview – either you forgot to ask or you ran out of time – you can provide these in an email via your recruitment consultant. This will again display interest in the role and the organisation as a whole. Conversations related to salary and benefits are typically easier to go through your recruitment consultant as well. They can remain objective in the negotiation process and can handle any queries diplomatically.

In Summary

Preparation is key to a good interview. The more you know about the company, the role, who you are meeting, and of course yourself, will give you a better chance of success. You will also be able to answer challenging questions more effectively, allowing your personality to shine through. There is no guarantee that even if you have all the right skills that you will secure the role. Team fit is very important, particularly if you are looking to join a small team. So, prepare, research, be personable but most importantly, be yourself!

Author: Ben Hannon
http://www.qorusdocs.com/blog/interview-guide-for-candidates

APMP’s Foundation Level exam in Edinburgh, course presented by Strategic Proposals

There’s a chance in May to pass APMP’s Foundation Level exam in Edinburgh, at a course presented by our business partners, Strategic Proposals. APMP’s certification syllabus serves two purposes.

It allows bid and proposal specialists to demonstrate to their colleagues that this is indeed a profession – not a glorified admin function – by attaining the recognised international qualification in our area. And, by studying APMP’s view of best practice – based on extensive research worldwide – it allows you to assess what you’re doing well, and to glean new ideas to improve your bidding processes.

Strategic Proposals have helped some 2,000 people through the qualification, and have an exceptional pass rate. Perhaps as importantly, they bring the syllabus to life with numerous examples from successful bids they’ve led, and proposal centres they’ve built. Bookings close at the end of April, and you can register for the event here: https://bidsolutions.co.uk/event/apmp-foundation-workshop-exam-3/

If you join up as a member of APMP (the cheapest way to gain the qualification), you’ll then also have free access to a wide range of events across Scotland and further afield – as well as a wealth of online resources. We’d highly recommend the certification programme and this particular course to any bid or proposal staff in Scotland!

Happy National Apprenticeship Week 2017 from APMP UK

It’s National Apprenticeship Week, and what better week to update our APMP UK Members with the progress being made with the development of a brand-new Bid and Proposal Coordinator Apprenticeship.

In the last parliament, more than 2.3 million apprenticeships were delivered in the UK and the government is committed to delivering 3 million more by 2020. In July 2015, the UK’s Skills Minister announced that the government had approved 26 new ‘Trailblazer Groups’ to develop new apprenticeship standards.

One of those groups, led by Amanda Nuttall, now CEO, on behalf of the APMP UK Chapter received approval to commence the design of a new apprenticeship for the role of a Bid and Proposal Coordinator. The Group includes employers and professional bodies committed to being involved in the development of the Apprenticeship standards. Supported by the Department for Education, soon to be the Institute for Apprenticeships, and training providers, the group work together to ensure that the standards agreed will be suitable for large and small organisations, across a range of industries and sectors.

Now in the final stages of the Trailblazer process, the Group are designing the “End Point Assessment” methods that will explain how to test the full occupational competence of the Apprentice with a view to launching the scheme officially across the bid and proposal industry later in 2017.

In line with National Apprenticeship Week’s celebration of the positive impact apprenticeships and traineeships have on individuals, businesses and the economy, this week we will be sharing the experiences of two real life Bid and Proposal Apprentices who embarked on the UK’s first Bid and Proposal Apprenticeship pioneered at NG Bailey. We caught up with Vicky Coleman and Charlotte Rees to understand the impact the apprenticeship has had on their personal development and career choices. We will also hear from NG Bailey’s Head of Group Learning and Development, Frank Clayton, to get an employer’s perspective on the benefits of this scheme.

For further article from APMP UK visit their website http://www.apmpuk.co.uk/

How to Hire a Bid Manager

Hiring can be a tricky business. Someone has either left your team and needs replacing, or you are in the positive situation of expanding the business. Hiring the right person for your team is critical and when you are looking for a new Bid Manager to join your team, there are number of aspects you must consider.

This hiring guide will provide you with an overview of just some of the points to consider when selecting the next member of your team.

Know what you need

It’s important to have a clear understanding of what you need from the outset. Take the time to assess the skills of your existing team, think about what you have and what you need.

Do you need a Bid Manager or a Proposal Manager? What’s the difference? It’s one of the biggest questions in our industry and a common reason for new starters not working out – get it wrong and you’ve placed a square peg in a round hole. Here’s a guide to the difference between the two.

If you are expanding your bid team, think about what skills will complement the existing talent in your team. If you are replacing someone who has left, think about what was most important about their role, bearing in mind you probably won’t find a like-for-like replacement. Have a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘must not haves’ – this will help in your selection process. In addition to what you need now, be sure to think about what you will need in 12 months’ time – perhaps more commercial or technical skills? Use the opportunity to future-proof your team.

Take the time to create a job description

This is a critical but often overlooked element of the hiring process. Much like you would want to see a well-written CV, candidates will react well to a detailed job description. The more information they have will ensure they know what they are applying for. This will result in more relevant applications. If you don’t know where to start, our website has a selection of job descriptions for you to review. Take a look at common bid team job descriptions.

Quirky internal naming conventions are fine for people that are in-house but you could miss out on applications because jobseekers won’t click on your advert, or you won’t be captured in their job board alert system. Keep it simple for external adverts. You can always reveal your internal job title at interview stage.

Money talks
Ensure your salary range is competitive compared to the market. Make sure it is sufficient to attract the best talent, if that’s what you are seeking. Don’t judge this purely against what competing organisations are offering – they may be struggling to hire themselves! The Salary Benchmarking section on our website can help with this. Take a look at bid team salary benchmarks (note that these are for UK teams).

If someone has left your team and secured a big pay rise in the process, consider that you may have been underpaying them. Be aware that you might not secure the same calibre of candidate with your offered salary – they left because they felt they were worth more.

Also, if you hired someone on £X in 2012, inflation and time dictates that you won’t find your desired candidate for the same money. You must either move with the times to remain competitive, or adjust your expectations as to who you can hire.

The interview process

Map this out at the very start. Think about what you need to know from candidates in order to make a decision. Do you need someone that can write content? If so, it would be wise to incorporate a written assessment to judge their skills.

Be open about what you can offer. If you can’t offer progression with the role, don’t say you can. It will only result in you needing to look for another candidate in the near future once the truth is out. To combat this, let the candidates ask you some tough questions too. It’s an ‘inter’-view after all.

It is always useful to get a second opinion, so think about who else you can get involved to meet with candidates. This has to be someone whose opinion you trust, otherwise there is no point. On the flip side, don’t involve the whole company as this will be overbearing for candidates – not to mention the logistical nightmare of coordinating diaries…

Know your decision criteria and process prior to arranging the first interview. Chopping and changing will lead to frustration and you may realise after 3 months of recruiting that you have already rejected the ideal candidate.

Don’t make the interview process overly long – you will miss out on candidates to companies that have a more efficient selection process. 3 stages should be enough to make a decision. Any more than this could cause unnecessary delays and put a drain on your resource. Time is money after all and too many cooks and opinions will often lead to stalemate.

Reference checking

You’ve made your decision and found your ideal candidate. You have offered them the position and they have accepted. This is great news but you’re not over the finish line just yet. A full reference check is vital and will give you peace of mind that you have made the right decision. You will need to obtain consent from your chosen candidate to contact their referees and you must only ask employment-related questions. More information on reference checking and a sample list of questions can be found here

First day and beyond

You’ve finally made it. Your new Bid Manager has walked through the door and is ready to get stuck in. Be sure to stay close to them during their first month. Ensure that they are settling in, developing the relationships they need and are enjoying their work. Provide feedback on their performance, so they know if there is anything they can improve, or anything that will help them settle in. Be sure to get their feedback too – it’s important to know if you can be doing anything better too.

Development plans are often overlooked. In the 2015 Salary Survey, 48% of respondents had no personal development plan in place and only 25% had attended a training course in the previous year. You should be putting in place a development plan for your new employee from day one. This is not just about employee satisfaction but also about future-proofing your team with skills they might not have.

In summary

Hiring is not an exact science and gut feeling will come into it at some stage, particularly if you are going to be working with this person on a daily basis. You will need to strike a balance between skills and attitude. That being said, much like any bid, the better you plan at the outset, the better chance you have reaching a successful conclusion.

Learn more

Visit www.bidsolutions.co.uk to learn more about the services Ben and the team can offer.

If you’d like to learn more about the state of the bid industry, including the challenges they face, please download our 2016/2017 survey report

Author: Ben Hannon
https://www.qorusdocs.com/blog/how-to-hire-a-bid-manager

US APMP Bid & Proposal Conference in New Orleans on the 13th June – 15th June 2017

US APMP Bid & Proposal Conference is being held in the New Orleans Marriott, so reserve your hotel room now to avoid disappointment. (Please note that the Pre-Conference and Certification Day will be the 12th June 2017)

Why Attend?

The US Bid & Proposal Conference is the world’s largest event for proposal, bid, tender, capture, business development and graphics professionals. Global industry players come to the Bid & Proposal Conference seeking tested information, proven strategies, and best practices to help capture, write, produce, manage proposals and increase win rates. They attend to gain:

• Hands-on education & certification
• Insight & cutting-edge content from industry leaders and inspiring keynotes
• Networking opportunities

Who Attends?

Meet professionals involved in every aspect of proposal management, responsible for increasing win rates and raising revenue for their organisations. They’re the proposal managers, coordinators, writers, directors, RFP leads, and sales and marketing professionals who are ready to gain valuable content from these areas of interest:

• Certification
• Capture and Business Development
• Commercial
• Federal
• Software, Graphics & Technology
• Professional Development

They represent Aerospace, Commercial, Construction, Consulting, Defence, Energy/Environmental, Engineering, Architecture, Federal, Finance, Healthcare, Information Technology, Insurance, Manufacturing, Software, Telecommunications, and more!

For more information please review the APMP Website

‘Sixfold’s initiative to provide Foundation training in Manchester proves to be a great success’

Last year Sixfold, one of our training partner, launched APMP Foundation level training in Manchester. These courses have been well attended and the feedback has been phenomenal. Based on this success, Sixfold has scheduled them quarterly for 2017 (the next is scheduled for March 7th).

All of the students elected to take the exam on the day and so left with a Foundation Level Certification from the APMP. This Certification will not only help raise their stature within their companies but it will also help their career prospects.

The day is about more than Certification. Sixfold weave into the syllabus a great deal of practical advice and guidance that will help attendees improve their job performance and their company’s internal processes. At least, that is the feedback Sixfold got from many of the delegates. Here are a couple of comments from the Mancunian students:

‘It was a great day all round and Peter, you were just a great instructor and I have taken so much away from the day, so much that I can hit my Directors with! They are very much looking forward to me sitting them down and going through the facts and figures of what we should be doing and why.
Thank you very much for a great day, so informative and I am very much looking forward to putting it into practice.’
Gill Tidmarsh. Bid Manager

‘Very much enjoyed the course last week and it was lovely to meet you at last. My boss is very keen to look at our BD and bid process in light of my new qualification’
Jean Isherwood, Senior Proposal Writer

Sixfold are considering running courses in Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow if there is the demand, so please do let us know if you think that would be helpful to you. Email enquires@bidsolutions.co.uk

Fantastic initiative from Strategic Proposals to recognise the next generation of leaders in our Profession

Strategic Proposals’ ‘Rising Stars’ Award Programme

Calling the next generation of leaders in the UK bid and proposal management profession!

This year, Strategic Proposals’ is celebrating their 30th anniversary with a range of celebratory events worldwide. The first of these is their ‘Rising Stars’ award programme, with free training and activities for a group of up to twenty of the brightest and best young professionals working in bidding, proposals and work winning.

You will get three days of free courses (London on 5th April, and Stratford-upon-Avon on 12th and 13th September). With a range of industry-leading speakers, they will pool views on best practice, helping you to improve your own efficiency and effectiveness – and to win more business for your companies as a result.
You will get free coaching from one of Strategic Proposals’ senior team and there will be the chance to work on a short project with your fellow participants, looking at the future direction of our profession. (All they ask your company to do is to cover your travel costs).

It’s easy to apply (by email, no later than 17th February): full details can be found on Strategic Proposals’ website: http://www.strategicproposals.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Rising-Stars.pdf