Ever had that feeling of sudden panic during a bid response? Your heart starts beating faster, you start fumbling through the tender documents over and over, without realising what you’re even looking to find. You wonder whether all of your evaluation criteria are complete and wonder how well you managed to answer each question. Maybe you’re still staring at a half-finished document with skeleton content and a looming deadline that seems impossible to meet. So, you panic and consider your options:
- Ask for an extension (after all, you’re in stress mode and this seems the easiest way out!)
- Delegate sections to any person within your reach (knowing very well how risky this is, since your assigned writers won’t know the background and context of the bigger picture)
- Admit that sleep is a luxury you can’t afford until you hit the submit button. You note there are not enough hours in the day to write the sections you need and decide to pull 20-hour days to get the bid over the line.
You’re not alone.
Take comfort in knowing that these moments are all too common and they can happen to any bid team member. It could be the bid writer, bid manager or perhaps one of your contributing authors, who suddenly causes panic with their flurry of frustration at having to respond to their section. We all fall victim to such moments but fortunately, they pass and you quickly realise that every bid is manageable, if it is done right.
The best way to take the stress out of your bid response process is to follow these rules:
- Setup a solid project management plan or writing schedule
This can be in an excel spreadsheet, a word document, project management app or tool (whatever works best for you and your team, efficiency is key).
- Communicate plan clearly and early on to every identified contributor to the bid
Whether it’s during your kick-off meeting or an email sent after the meeting, you must ensure each team member knows which sections sit with them and the date they need to give you a response by. If this is not made clear from the start, get ready for the excuses to roll in, “I wasn’t sure what I needed to give you”, “It wasn’t clear you needed this draft back by tomorrow afternoon”, etc.
- Add in some fat and assign fake deadlines
This works best to protect you from severe stress when internal deadlines for receiving content are missed and staff suddenly go on holidays, leaving you no time to write a quality response for that section. Building in fake deadlines (we’re talking a few days, not weeks) never killed anyone and it will soften the blow for any other unexpected ‘hazards’ that come up during the process. After all, if you get content back early and it’s not great, then it gives you time to edit it to a level you’re happy to submit. Anything less will just add to your stress.
I hope the steps above help you to reduce those stress levels and get you through each bid with smooth sails – from start to finish. Always remember, any bids where you feel like the wheels are starting to come off needs to be assessed for how well the plan was setup and where did it start to go wrong. If you identify your mistakes you can learn from them for next time.
If you have any tips for containing your stress, we’d love for you to share them with us!