Using the Basics Brilliantly

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Picture this: you’re checking out all of the fantastic bidding tech on offer, and you can’t wait to drive efficiencies and improve your bids (and maybe make your life easier!).  

But then… you find out you can’t get approval, don’t have the budget, or the business just doesn’t have the appetite for it.  

So many of us have been there!  

I’ve worked within organisations over the years where we weren’t able to invest in bid tech. If you’re currently in this position, don’t worry! Firstly, it doesn’t mean you can’t create winning proposals, build brilliant bid libraries or improve your bid lifecycle efficiency. 

With this in mind, I have two questions for you: 

  1. What do you already have at your disposal? 
  2. Are you using all of its features?


It’s time to talk bid tech!  

There are a number of different ‘baseline’ platforms and apps, but I’m going to stick to the most popular examples: 

  • Email clients: Microsoft Outlook, Gmail or Hotmail  
  • Word processors: Microsoft Word or Google Docs  
  • Presentation programmes: Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides or Canva 
  • Spreadsheet software programmes: Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets 
  • Collaboration tools: Teams or Slack 
  • Web-based databases: SharePoint or Power BI 
  • Document hosting: SharePoint, Google Drive or shared folders 


Where can these feed into your bid lifecycle?  

Bid tracking and storage  

It’s vital to have a clear process for storing client documents and submitted proposals. It’s also best practice to have a clear way of knowing where an opportunity is in the bid process and a ‘snapshot’ of live progress at any moment in time.  

What might you use? 

  • Use spreadsheets to log live and submitted bids – easily tracking progress and creating reports 
  • Create web-based databases for tracking live opportunities and their details 
  • Host client documents and submitted proposals within folders (maybe cloud-based) and remember to check access requirements and confidentiality  
  • Use online collaboration programmes for bid management and communication (particularly great for bringing together virtual teams!) 


Bid/no bid 

It’s important your bid qualification process works for you. This process can be delivered in many ways, e.g., through a conversation, a form or an automatic questionnaire.  

What might you use? 

  • Create bid/no bid questionnaire templates in any word processor with tick boxes 
  • Utilise pre-built, in form functions in your email client 
  • Build weighted matrices through locked spreadsheets 
  • Use a web-based database to run workflows, host equations, weight answers and gain approvals 


Bid library  

When it comes to bid libraries, the most important thing is good content and a clear structure! 

What might you use? 

  • Use any file storage with folders to host content, remembering to create clear categories and make navigation as easy as possible. Try not to hide content too deep into the folder structure 
  • Tag documents (where possible) for easy finding and searching 
  • Take advantage of user friendly home page layouts and pre-saved options for creating an easily searchable database 
  • Check out your options for workflows and alerts within your databases, considering review and expiry dates as well as SME content owner tags 


Creating and managing bids

Proposals and presentations are created in so many ways and fantastic looking documents can be created within standard programmes. 

What might you use? 

  • Create bid plans in spreadsheets for project programmes and responsibility matrices 
  • Use any document software and create a number of baseline templates for consistency and efficiency (using style guides and pre-planned macro-based layouts will speed up your bid design and enable you to quickly tailor bid library content) 
  • Check out suggested design ideas on your documents (e.g., through Canva and Microsoft) to benefit from proven user-friendly layouts 
  • Consider how you can make navigation user-friendly within your documents, such as through hyperlinks, tables of contents and digital menus  
  • Use collaboration tools for storing your work-in-progress documents – cloud-based products usually allow for multi access, instant collaboration and version control  
  • Use free image websites such as Unsplash and Flaticon to create visually impactful documents  
  • Take a look at free visual discovery engines such as Pinterest for inspiration on your design layouts (we can all benefit from some creative ideas!)


Review and rehearse

Many of the basic packages come with some great tools to enhance your review process which are often unused. 

What might you use? 

  • Use spelling and grammar review to proofread your documents. Try the ‘Read Aloud’ function to hear your content out loud – it’s a great way to listen to your tone of voice and spot inconsistencies within writing 
  • Check out the readability options on any document to understand where you might be using complex language  
  • Benefit from presentation timers and direct rehearsal feedback from your presentation software 


This really is just the start!  

There’s so much more to share about these basic platforms, and I’d encourage everyone to think about the functions that are flying under the radar! Bid technology is fantastic and I definitely have noticed a difference in process efficiency (in particular) through great programmes and bid-specific applications. However, you do not need technology to be an amazing storyteller and win bids. Your clients won’t know if you’ve used fancy technology or not. 

So for anyone who hasn’t got the opportunity to use some of the great programmes and options you read about in BQ Tech, don’t be disheartened! Take this as an opportunity to think about ways you might be able use what you do have to its full capacity! 

(P.S. YouTube has some fantastic videos on using your software in the best way! #NotSponsored) 

This article was written by Charlotte Rees.

Charlotte has worked in the bidding profession for nearly a decade, starting her journey as a bid and proposals apprentice for an engineering company. She has worked across several industries including IT services, facilities management and construction, and is currently an Associate Director Bid Manager, working within professional services. In 2018, Charlotte founded the Wellbeing and Inclusion in Bids and Proposals (WIBAP) community to target gender inequality within the profession and provide a space to share experiences and overcome the challenges we all face on a regular basis.

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