May 16, 2020

The No.1 Way to Achieve Consistent Success in Tendering

bid strategy
Bidding and tendering
3 min
The No.1 Way to Achieve Consistent Success in Tendering
The No. 1 way to strike a consistently high win rate with your bids andhigh-stakes proposals is simply this:Make it a top priority to understand why you...

The No. 1 way to strike a consistently high win rate with your bids and high-stakes proposals is simply this:

Make it a top priority to understand why you won, or why you lost, all those that came before the one you're currently working on.

Clearly, the client-delivered debrief is the most obvious way to achieve a first-hand understanding of whether and where a submission hit the mark, or whether and where it didn't - and (also, hopefully) how it stacked up against the competition.

The value of the information and insights obtained from such an exercise, however, is almost always directly proportionate to how effectively each side prepares for, and participates in, the debriefing session.

The "trick" to using the debrief as your "secret weapon" in your quest to consistently pip the competition at the post, lies in extracting high-potency intelligence; frank, no-holds-barred, painstakingly detailed commentary . . . "news you can use" to mastermind quantum leaps of continuous improvement in your processes. Even when you're already submitting winning bids.

Assumptions Make Dangerous Allies

Don't let a successful bidding track record blind you to the merits of working hard to extract valuable feedback on all aspects of your most recent bid: To repeat success wilfully, you must know exactly what created it. Assumptions make dangerous allies.

In my opinion, one of the greatest quotes of all time was uttered by Napoleon Bonaparte, when he said: "The greatest danger occurs at the moment of victory."

When being enlightened as to why it won, many a jubilant winning team has had its proverbial bubble burst by learning that it was a completely different factor that won it the bid, than that which it had assumed.

(It goes without saying, of course, that if you're on a losing streak you have an even greater incentive to find out all you can from a debrief, to help steer you towards success.)

How to avail yourself and your team of a high-value debrief, then?

Corral the Horses: You Want It from Their Mouths (Not Third-Hand)

First and foremost, you want the feedback to come from "the horses' mouths" i.e. the members of the tender evaluation panel . . . not second-hand, from personnel who weren't directly involved in the evaluation, and who (worse still) may never had read your submission in detail.

Getting the right people at the debriefing table is critical. You'll greatly increase your chances of this by targeting your (formal) email request/s to the most senior client organisation representatives, conveying the importance, to you and your team, of the debrief.

If the client has engaged the services of an independent probity auditor, ensure the relevant parties from that organisation are included in, or cc'd in on, these communications.

Don't try to achieve this objective through phone calls, or "whipped off", informal emails. This risks downplaying the significance of your request and of the debrief per se. Don't be timid on this point.

You should (politely, of course) state that you'd appreciate the client-side debrief participants include those directly involved in the evaluation process. This transmits the message (in an acceptable manner) that you'd appreciate the client-side preparing adequately for the debrief, as you'll be expecting accurate and detailed feedback.

This latter point is particularly important. In the case of a major project, it could be four or five months post-decision before a debrief is held. Thus, the evaluators need to be prompted to refresh themselves with regard to the detail of your bid documentation.

In my next column, I'll cover - in detail - the specific planning processes I recommend you undertake when preparing for your attendance at the debriefing session. 

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

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Jun 17, 2021

Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Human-induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users

Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.

But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.

Resonance v Impulse

There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.

Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.

On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.

Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.

Potential impacts from human induced vibration

Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:

  • Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
  • Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
  • Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
  • Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.

How to avoid it

As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.

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