Preparing for a Tender Debrief: End with the Start in Mind
When preparing for your attendance at a tender debriefing session, plan, plan, plan.
To turn an old saying on its ear, end with the start in mind. That is, set out to learn as much as you can about the strengths and weaknesses you exhibited in the current bid, in order to start out on a stronger footing with your next bidding performance.
When I'm preparing a bid team to attend a submission debriefing session with one of its prospect or client organisations, I work with it to do what I'm about to recommend to you here:
• Plan your approach and questioning outline in the same detailed manner as you'd approach preparing the outline for a tender response workshop.
• Exercise both tact and strategy when framing the questions.
• Practice "proactive" listening skills - and exhibit an open mind and broad shoulders.
Mapping Out Your Approach
If you're thorough in identifying all the areas in which you want detailed feedback, chances are you'll come up with more questions than you can ask in the time allotted for the debrief.
My advice is to prioritise these in accordance with the degree of value they afford you, in terms of:
(a) (if your bid lost this time) winning another similar bid or another bid with the same client, or
(b) (if your bid won) performing in a manner throughout the contract, that will ensure you of success in your project/product/service delivery, and favourable and robust positioning for future business with the client in question.
Framing the Questions
One of the most important considerations you can make in mapping out your questions, is to be cognisant that there are three categories of information in any given "debriefing" environment and the associated dynamics:
1) Conscious and willing to share.
2) Conscious and not willing to share.
3) Unconscious, so can’t share.
It's easy to get the Category 1 information. That's what the client has prepared, and has come there ready to offer.
Category 2 is tricky, but this information is particularly valuable. Here's how to extract it - as painlessly as possible:
Minimise the evaluation team's discomfort by framing your questions, and pre-establishing the tone of the evaluators' responses, such that observations are delivered as constructive criticism. Make it easy and comfortable (or as comfortable as possible) for the client-side executives to speak their minds.
Here's an example in which a bid team that tabled a losing bid is dealing with one of the trickiest issues of all: whether or not they lost on price. And whether or not the client is prepared to admit it.
"Obviously, when we prepare our estimates, our pricing is based on delivering the optimal result in every aspect of the project. It follows then, that in some projects there might be a connection between price and what we believe it will take to deliver that optimal result. It would be valuable for us to understand, from your perspective, how valuable (or otherwise) you feel that extra guarantee of satisfaction is, when we're up against someone that comes in with a lower price."
Category 3 requires a different type of prompt.
In this example, the bid team is endeavouring to determine where it hit the right hot buttons and where it didn't:
"We carried out extensive background research into this project and your stakeholders' issues, and we worked hard to pinpoint what appeared would be your top concerns and priorities. Then we worked our methodology and general approach around these. Could you give us some specific feedback on where we were correct with our assumptions? Could you give us some indication of where we focused on things that weren't as important to you?"
Perhaps you'd craft your questions a little differently. That's fine. The point is, it's critical to determine the specific insights you're after, and each of the aspects of the bid in which you want those insights, and then to frame your questions to draw out the most instructive answers, in the most productive manner.
Jordan Kelly is a bid strategist, writer and trainer/coach. She is author of 'Think & Win Bids: Winning High-Value, High-Stakes Bids through Superior Questioning, Listening and Thinking Skills'. Claim your free subscription to her newsletter - 'The Bid Strategist' - at www.bidstrategist.com
Vinci Facilities, Amey and Vivo win UK defence contracts
VINCI Facilities has been awarded an estimated £1.1 billion contract to provide facilities management services to Ministry of Defence (MoD) for its Built Estate across the South East of England. The total contract is for a seven-year term, with an option to extend for three additional years.
The deal includes £423m for the core contract and a potential £732m for billable works. It is one of four regional hard FM and capital works contracts and VINCI Facilities will be managing over 6,200 buildings and infrastructure assets supporting a significant number of MoD military and civilian personnel in over 59 establishments and is being mobilised now.
It is among a flurry of deals involving the MoD and Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) this month.
Amey has secured two contracts with the DIO to maintain Service Family Accommodation (SFA) across its Central and Northern regions.
The contracts, which fall under the Regional Accommodation Maintenance Services (RAMS) element of the Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) will run for seven years with an option to extend for an additional three. In addition to the core services, which include housing maintenance, the contracts will deliver improvement projects and refurbishment work to approximately 25,000 properties.
The contract award follows Amey successfully delivering maintenance solutions under National Housing Prime - procured under the Next Generation Estates contract in 2014. Amey’s defence team will work with the DIO to provide enhanced services, as outlined within the new FDIS requirement, through collaborative working and improved data management.
RAMS will support more than 500 jobs within Amey and its key supply chain partners in both the Central and Northern regions. New ways of working will provide opportunities for flexible employment, meaning members of the military community, parents, and carers will be able to access jobs. This will translate into more choice and flexibility for people living in SFA.
Craig McGilvray, Managing Director of Amey Secure Infrastructure, said: “We recognise the important role housing plays to military personnel and are committed to providing an enhanced service that not only improves living standards but contributes to thriving communities.
“Supporting and sustaining regional and local supply chain partners remains a core part of Amey’s agenda and we are pleased that our delivery model will support specialist contractors across Britain including Northern Ireland.”
Air Commodore James Savage, DIO Head of Accommodation, said: “Accommodation is such an important part of family life for Servicemen and women, which is why we collaborated closely with representatives of our Service personnel and their families to develop these contracts and ensure that their needs are fully considered.
“These new contracts offer the opportunity to break decisively from the past and to build on the commitments made by all suppliers to innovate and deliver more responsive and flexible services to the Armed Forces and their families.”
This month VIVO Defence Services (VIVO), a 50/50 Joint Venture between Serco, the international provider of services to governments, and ENGIE were awarded contracts to provide asset and facilities management services for the UK Defence built estate by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).
VIVO has been awarded contracts for two of the four regions being tendered under Lot 3 of the Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) programme. VIVO will be responsible for providing services in the South West and Central regions of the UK, the largest two regions of the four that were competed, and which represent around 2/3rds of the MOD’s estimated value of Lot 3 of the Future Defence Infrastructure Services contracts.
The total core contract value to VIVO for the two regions is estimated to be around £900m over the initial seven-year period. There are a further three one-year extension options. In addition to the core fixed price contract for each region, there will be significant amounts of additional project work, which will be commissioned as required by the DIO. The Ministry of Defence estimates that they are likely to be worth a further £2.5bn over the initial seven-year term.