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Bid library structure and management

Question by: Fiona Barefoot

I have been tasked with overhauling our bid library to turn it into a highly functioning asset and for it to contain the right information our team would then use within future bids.

Its a folder system that is split down into Text and Evidence, but there is a lot of duplication of information, content that is years old which people struggle to let go of and a significant portion is just not fit for purpose.

So not only do I need to assess, edit, refresh all the content but also try and  change people’s attitudes towards it, get our technical teams to contribute and make it a successful resource.

Now I know I may be overthinking it, but frankly I’m not sure where to start! as team lead should I be having first crack at it all, or split it out amongst the team which could result in different writing styles but achieve buy-in? I’m keen to hear of systems that have worked / layout / approach / how often people review their content etc?

Many thanks, Fi


Hi Fiona

Overhauling your bid library is a big task to take on, but well worth the investment.

I suggest the following steps:

  • Set up a separate, new bid library
  • Initiate a programme to refresh the content
  • Identify content owners, and put in place regular content reviews
  • Address different writing styles.

Set up a separate, new bid library

As you already have a lot of material, I suggest the first step is to set up a new, separate bid library. Then you can populate that with high quality, reviewed content as time goes on. Also have a separate folder for storing submitted bids. File them by date (in the YYMMDD format) then client name. That will line them up by date in any filing system.

Initiate a programme to refresh the content

When it comes to refreshing the content, one of the key issues will be to establish what constitutes good content. You and your technical team will need to agree on what constitutes the right type of information to use for future bids. That will help with dealing with issue of old content that is not fit-for-purpose. To shake things up a bit, I would suggest you first conduct a competitive analysis workshop with key members of your team. Get them away from focusing on what you already have, and start looking at how you are positioned in your market through your potential customers’ eyes.

Do a comprehensive SWOT analysis around the key technical, operational, support and commercial issues that are likely to arise in your next bid. Use the results of that to develop the key proposal messages that you will use to highlight your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses. This will get the team thinking differently about what needs to be in your next bid.

Next, create an answer outline structure for each of the key answers that you are typically providing. Conduct a SWOT analysis for each answer, and write out “why they should choose you” for that question.

Then develop a clear answer outline structure, with headings, subheadings and bullet points of the information that must be provided, indicating what graphics and evidence would be needed. Have the outlines peer-reviewed and approved. Then populate them with the existing content you have.

After that, go through the text and turn it into results-oriented writing. That means putting the results that customer will get first, followed by the features that will enable it. Any paragraph that begins with your company name, or “we”, rewrite with the results first.

Conduct a second peer review of the drafts, and change as required. You will now have some high quality content for your new bid library, which has been developed in conjunction with your technical team. Getting people to write new content, that isn’t needed right then for a live bid, is a challenge. The best work will always come when there is a strong need for it. So, you could consider running this process on your next bid. If you haven’t done it before, you would be well-advised to get help.

Identify content owners, and put in place regular content reviews

Assign team members to be responsible for categories, playing to their strengths and knowledge. Content review is done annually, but it will depend on the content itself. Some content management systems will enable you to set a review date. Otherwise, use a spreadsheet. Ideally, you will be operating post-bid reviews, and adding and removing content from the library as part of that process.

Address different writing styles

To deal with different writing styles, I suggest you invest in bid writing training for the team. This will help change peoples’ attitude towards producing the content, and providing the training on why, and how, to write customer-focused, results-oriented content. Ideally, the training would be backed up with onsite coaching for the team as they work on the content on a live bid, to help then to apply what they have learned.