CONDUCTING AN EFFECTIVE TENDER BRAINSTORM MEETING

A brainstorm meeting ensures that you:

  • Fully understand how you will deliver the contract specification and helps you establish a win theme.
  • Increases the volume of ideas, allows for creativity and to explore variants to the specification, added value, exceeding the requirements etc.
  • Allows you to find out from the operations team information about similar projects/contracts previously/successfully delivered.
  • Allows you all to discuss the competition/incumbent supplier and identify threats to you winning the contract

PREPARATION IS KEY:

1. Identify your goal(s)

  • Fully read the specification, instructions to bidders, evaluation criteria and the pricing model – It can take half a day to prepare fully for a brainstorm, sometimes longer, give yourself enough time to do this.
  • Identify clearly what you want to get out of the brainstorm – THIS IS NOT THE ANSWERS TO ALL THE QUESTIONS!
  • Depending on what the evaluation criteria is, this will tell you what you need such as ‘added value ideas’, ‘innovation’ examples of EXCEEDING the specification and how this will be done, plus evidence to back this up.

2. Decide who should attend your brainstorming session

  • The best, most knowledgeable people are not necessarily those in charge. You need ideas and creativity, but also experience on the job.
  • Who has the MOST relevant experience of the contract/work required. For example: On a recent cleaning tender, we invited cleaners/cleaning supervisors that had worked on the contracts as they knew the job/clients better than anybody else and knew what worked and what didn’t.

3. Motivate attendees, don’t discourage them!

  • You need passionate, motivated and even excited people at your brainstorm, that way you will get good, usable and passionate ideas.
  • The easiest way to put off people is to send them heaps of stuff to read beforehand.
  • Just send them the specification…… ask them to read it and come to the meeting with ideas on how they will deliver the specification
  • Ask them to think about similar contracts and good news stories that they have delivered before and that are similar/relevant to this client’s needs.

4. Lead – Be Strong – Be Confident

  • Know how to facilitate: Someone must run the meeting, guiding the conversation in useful directions. This needs to be YOU, the bid manager or bid co-ordinator.
  • Good facilitation requires good listening skills, very sharp group awareness, and the ability to help people express their ideas.
  • You will need to record the meeting as it can be information overload.
  • The facilitator should run the meeting, writing down ideas as people come up with them, preventing people from interrupting each other/going off track and giving the floor to quieter people who wouldn’t ordinarily find a way to contribute on their own.

REMEMBER:

  • A good brainstorm can lead to a winning tender
  • Remember, a brainstorm should be about, HOW YOU WILL DELIVER THE CLIENT’S SPECIFICATION FOR THIS CONTRACT, it’s not about what you do now.
  • You need to ask the right questions to prompt the best responses. Your operational people will have so much information locked away in their heads, it’s down to you to open those doors and get the evidence and ideas flowing!
  • The WORST-CASE scenario… (i.e. not win, or lose the contract if you are the incumbent) It sometimes does no harm to remind those involved in the brainstorm of this. Be persistent in asking for the information you NEED, even when people are ‘TOO BUSY’. Let them know that your competitors will have this and will score more if you don’t provide it….