First rule of bid club Is…
Majority of companies that are responding to tenders on a regular basis should have a Bid Library, but if they do are the libraries being utilised to their fully potential?
To clarify, when I say Bid Library, I am referring to repository of documents and standard answers to questions that regularly appear in Tenders and Proposals. Companies will have different names for this repository, but I tend to stick to the term Bid Library as my MD would not allow The Bidfather, Bid Club or Tenders of Gloom.
Whenever I am working on Bid Libraries, I always think of an experience I once read about involving five monkeys and a ladder. I believe it was titled “Five Monkeys and a Ladder” and as I found it on the internet, it has to be true.
Five monkeys were placed in a room with a banana at the top of ladder. As one monkey attempted to climb the ladder, all of the monkeys were sprayed with jets of cold water. A second monkey made an attempt and again the monkeys were sprayed. No more monkeys attempted to climb the stairs. One of the monkeys was then removed from the room and replaced with a new monkey. The new monkey saw the banana and started to climb the ladder but to its surprise, it was attacked by the other monkeys. Another of the original monkeys was replaced and the new arrival was also attacked when he attempted to climb the ladder. Replacing a third original monkey with a new one, it headed for the stairs and was attacked as well. Half of the monkeys that attacked him had no idea why. After the fourth and fifth original monkeys had been replaced, none of the monkeys had ever been sprayed with cold water but they all stayed away from the ladder.
So why do bid libraries make me think of this experiment?
I was once providing bid consultancy to a company who had wanted to implement Tender Excellence in to the sales team. The company had maintained a large bid library over several years and the Bid Co-ordinator was showing me how they (as a team) use the library to respond to ITTs. The process of completing an ITT consisted of the famous “Cut and Paste” technique using the previous responses and inserting them where they thought suited best. This all seemed a little backward to me, similar to my days as a barman when I put a wet floor sign out after my colleague slipped on the spillage I was moping. Upon the review of the previous responses, I realised that a lot of the information was out of date. When I asked why they did it this way, I was simply told that this how they have always done it. This team had become the 5 new monkeys.
A bid library can be a highly efficient and vital tool to any Bid Manager or Bid Writer. However like all good tools, the tools need to be maintained on a regular basis. Utilised to its full potential, the library can track the best and worst scoring responses and continuously improve the time and quality of submissions and ultimately win rates.
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