Agree ‘ways of working’ to accelerate learning

I love watching professional sport where I can marvel at outstanding individual skills and fantastic teamwork. The seemingly magical way in which teammates can be in just the right place to receive a winning pass seems superhuman to me. The truth, however, is that it is not magic. It comes from hours and hours of practise in which drills, and pre-designed moves are honed on the training park.  

Like sport, bidding for contracts is competitive and there can only be one winner. Fortunately, the more you rehearse and the more you compete the better you become. Public sector buyers are duty bound to provide you with feedback and explain how you have fallen short relative to the winning offer, so if you acknowledge the feedback and act accordingly, you can increase your chances of success. 

You can also speed up the rate at which you improve by developing some agreed ‘drills’ or processes which will give you a better chance of winning. I like to think of agreed these as ‘agreed ways of working’, which foster teamwork. From our experience, common components of success include having:

  • A common understanding of the type of work you will bid for and a defined bid selection (or bid/ no bid) process
  • Agreement on the overall solution, and why the customer should choose it compared to others (win themes)
  • Authors involved who are best suited to answering the questions in the tender, are subject matter experts and who ultimately need to deliver, when successful
  • An agreed plan with timings that the team can work to
  • A kick-off meeting which brings the team together to ensure everybody knows what is expected of them 
  • A stage whereby the tender documents are interpreted, with a suggested story board, provided to guide authors, written by individuals who understand the customer intent and have read all the documentation provided
  • Common agreement on the assumptions established in the commercial model
  • An authoring stage where first drafts of answers and pricing models are produced
  • A further stage where the answers are re-written to ensure they have a common tone, use of language and consistency of message around win themes
  • A final review and check for errors
  •  Sufficient time allowed to ensure that the rules for submission are followed.

If your team is relatively new to bidding you should not expect to win your early submissions. It is important to manage expectations and recognise that, when compared to others, you may be short of experience. However, if you have a great solution which you are confident is right for the customer, keep working at it, and remember that early failure is part of an essential learning process. 

Ultimately, being great at bidding is a key component of all successful B2B businesses, so the time and effort spent honing your skills to respond to relevant bids will be well spent.

If you want more information and advice on getting ‘contract-ready’ or advice on winning more work from tenders, contact Mike Coveney, Head of Business Transformation at Augmentas on +44 (0)203 918 8550 or email



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