The key message: competent bid writing will play a major role in optimising public sector procurement.
As a result of a growing professionalisation of bid writing, and a wider adoption of bid writers by suppliers, public services will significantly improve, taxpayers will get better value for money.
Competent bid writing will be recognised widely as industry best practice. Suppliers that act early, and make use of professional bid writers before competitors, will have a significant advantage.
Bid writing specialists are here to stay and they genuinely benefit society.
This all sounds ambitious, so let’s explain why and how this will happen.
To understand the value of bid writers, we need to look at the whole picture, and to view the whole picture we need to pay attention to the second and third order effects. This means not only the direct result of an action (first order), but what is subsequently affected as a knock-on (second order), and how that continues onward.
Second and third order effects are hard to think about, but they tell the real story.
To start off our journey through the knock-on effects of competent bid writing, we’ll assess the first order effects – the immediate impacts – and who benefits from these impacts.
First order effects
Good bid writing simplifies the whole bidding process for suppliers and articulates their solution in a way that will land well with buyers. These combine to maximise the chances for a supplier scoring well with their buyer.
Imagine the first ever professional legal defence service. Rather than an individual, who’s likely ill-equipped to reasonably defend themselves, there’s now a service that provides an articulate and considered representation of the defendant’s case. These professionals use the same facts, but, due to their expertise, they are able to focus in on the key information, knowing which pieces of evidence to present, as well as when to present them, and how to present them. The skills and knowledge of this representative enables them to provide the judge and jury with a much clearer, more relevant account of the events in question. The value to the defendant is clear.
Competent bid writing plays a similar role for suppliers that good legal representation does for its clients.
There are three key first order benefits of competent bid writing:
- Better focus: the bid writers encourage suppliers to focus on answering the questions
- Clearer presentation: the responses are better written and simpler to read, making them easier to evaluate
- Stress relief and time saving: the supplier’s subject matter expert (SME) team can spend their time on the solution, rather than on writing, meaning a better and more considered solution.
Better focus: Bids are projects. Like any project team, a bid team has different roles with different priorities. The bid writers will advocate for the evaluation criteria provided by the buyer. Just like a legal defence professional will focus on the key evidence to determine innocence, competent bid writers will prioritise the messages and evidence that will score highly. Without this influence, supplier bid teams can be distracted, and neglect these crucial requirements.
So bid writers focus on the question, and doing so increases supplier’s chance of scoring highly and being awarded the contract.
Clearer presentation: Bid evaluators must read and mark each supplier bid, this often means evaluators are reading and assessing large volumes of writing. Fatigue and boredom are real issues. Human imperfection of course also effects judges – the ‘hungry judge effect’ is an observed phenomenon where judges are less inclined to grant parole if the decision is made before meal breaks.
In bidding, competent writing can help alleviate evaluator fatigue by presenting the responses in a clear, simple, and easy to read style. Bid Writers use short sentences, understandable vocabulary, active voice, and many more techniques to improve readability.
Stress relief and time saving: Like the legal world, bidding has its own vocabulary, customs, and strict procedure. It is also, to the uninitiated, intimidating, obtuse, and confusing. Without professional legal representation, defendants trip up and mess up, lost in this technical maze. It is much the same in public sector bidding. For suppliers, the stress of this difficult process is coupled with unavailability of resource. Supplier’s subject matter experts (SMEs) already have full time jobs, often bids are just an additional demand.
By using competent bid writers, suppliers are relieved of confusion, stress, and workload, enabling them to work on what they do best.
To summarise, the first order benefits of competent bid writing, suppliers are able to spend more time on solutioning, while their bids are better articulated and more focused. Like a defendant that’s receiving good legal representation, suppliers who use competent bid writers maximise their chance of positive outcomes.
Second Order Effects
Now we’ll examine the second order effects of competent bid writing, the knock-on outcomes that result from the first order impacts we outlines above.
In the same way court judges benefit from professional legal representation, buyers benefit from suppliers using competent bid writers. These benefits increase as adoption increases.
More defendants using professional legal representation, and more suppliers using competent bid writers mean more informed (and better) decision making by judges and buyers respectively.
Where a first order effect of competent bid writing is that supplier SMEs can work more on their solution, the knock-on impact, is that the buyer gets a proposed service that is more considered and thought out. This increases as market adoption increases. If more suppliers use competent bid writing, more bids will have considered proposals, and so buyers will have better options to choose from.
Buyers that are presented with a wide selection of well thought out proposals, will be able to select better contractors.
A judge who is presented a case by a well-represented defendant can be confident they are being given an accurate and clear account which focuses on key details – the case is demystified, and the judge doesn’t need to make as many assumptions. The judge is more informed, and so will make a better decision.
This not only becomes more frequent as more defendants make use of professional legal representation, but it creates a level playing field of sorts.
In the same way, as more suppliers make use of competent bid writing, there’s a levelling of the playing field. Buyers don’t need to spend as much time reading between the lines of messy and confused bid responses, they’ll be presented an accurate picture of what each supplier can offer, which is focused on their specific buying requirements. The result is that buyers can make quicker and better decisions.
Buyers are the big beneficiaries of second order effects of competent bid writing, and especially so as the market of suppliers increases its adoption of good bid writing. It’s not that as more suppliers adopt professional bid writing, the benefits for individual suppliers doing so disappears, but the once competitive advantage of adoption now becomes the standard best practice. To avoid falling behind, more suppliers use competent bid writing. Adoption necessitates further adoption.
Third Order Effects
The biggest beneficiary of the resulting impact of the first and second order effects created by competent bid writing (and its increased prevalence) is the end service user of these public sector contracts – the public and the taxpayer.
Public sector procurement exists as a mechanism for purchasing products and services. These products and services support the public sector fulfil its responsibilities to the public. The source of public sector budgets is tax income, contributed by taxpayers.
So, as we draw the line between cause and effect, joining the dots, we start to see the big picture.
Who benefits from the widespread practice of defendants being represented by professional legal experts? The defendant benefits, as we showed in the first order effects. The judge also benefits, as we explained in the second order effects. Lastly, and importantly, the public also benefits.
If judges make better decisions, based on more accurate information and the level playing field (widespread use of professional representation), then it is more likely that guilty defendants are appropriately punished, and that innocent people go free to contribute to society. Is this a perfect system? Of course not, but it’s better for the public if the standard practice is that professional defence representatives, rather than defendants themselves, are presenting court cases.
Where competent bid writers make bids better, suppliers’ benefit. Where bids are better, buyers’ benefit. When buyers can make better and more informed decisions, the end user of these contracts, the public, benefits.
Will ubiquitous adoption of expert bid writing result in perfect contract appointments and optimal public services? No, it won’t. But it will improve things and provide a significant contribution to optimising public sector procurement – a key mechanism for using Government budgets.
What does this mean for the bidding industry and profession?
The purpose of bid writing then. We can see the value and potential of competent bid writing, to play a significant role in optimising public sector procurement and ultimately improving the efficacy of Government spending. Given this opportunity for positive change, the purpose of bid writers, particularly expert consultancies like Kittle Group, is to help the profession realise this potential.
The way to do this is to maximise the benefits of first order effects. As explained above, the second and third order effects will naturally follow.
As a market leading consultancy of all in-house staff, Kittle Group will remain dedicated to maximising benefits and competitive advantages for its clients. If we keep pushing the best practice standard forward, and keep supporting winning bids for our clients, the market will need to adapt to keep up. We will inspire a wider adoption of competent, professional bid writing, and improve public procurement by doing so.
What do you think about this? We’d love to hear. As always, the purpose of these Insight Notes is to share our thinking on bidding and procurement. Let’s start a conversation – contact our Business Development Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01184492506.
If you want to get ahead of the trend, and level up your bidding, please get in contact for a discussion with our Business Development Team.