For many companies, winning work through competitive tendering is the norm. This means the people preparing bids are incredibly important. Bidding is a fast-paced, high-stress environment. It necessarily involves interaction with people from different backgrounds, both work and personal, and a broad range of skills. No doubt, all bid professionals could benefit from better training.
In the 25 years BiD Masters has been involved in business development, the bid and proposal preparation has burgeoned from a niche activity to a recognised profession. Over that period, though, appropriate training has not kept pace. Certifications are available, but they are for people who already deliver within the profession. What about newcomers?
Many companies recruit ‘bid writers’ or ‘bid manager’ but the job specifications tend to be rather woolly as there’s no formally established roles with clear responsibilities to map against. Without these a curriculum cannot be produced to train the new recruits.
There are many aspects of the profession and a diverse range of skills and qualities represented. Our bid and proposal professionals are all known as bidmasters, but this generic title can be broken down into the following areas:
There is one other key element in the preparation of a successful proposal, although not part of our bidmaster cadre, and that’s the subject matter expert (SME). These are the people with the expertise to develop the solutions to the various parts of the requirements. The lead SME consolidates the solutions into a coherent proposition. Our bidmasters work with the SMEs to present the solutions in the most convincing way.
Currently, there is no established route to become a bid professional, most people fall into the profession – they get involved in a bid as a sideline to their normal job, and are either hooked on continuing or get labelled as an expert. This leads to rapid on-the-job training based on “that seems to work.” It’s not really a substitute for formal training.
There is good news on the horizon. Dedicated training may be in its nascent stages, but it is beginning to happen. Within tertiary education, some degree courses now include modules devoted to winning contracts. Perhaps the biggest step, though, is the introduction of the Level 3 Bid and Proposal Coordinators Apprenticeship. This is focussed on the management and coordination of bids, but includes aspects of the other areas, so it is a great entry point for anyone wanting a career in the profession..
At BiD Masters we have also taken the initiative to develop our own training courses. We have two methods of delivery either:
Our bespoke courses are usually for companies with a number of people needing training. We discuss their needs and then tailor the training accordingly. Our online courses start with the Fundamentals course, which provides a solid general understanding of what’s involved in the profession. This is followed by a variety of specialist courses, which leads to certification in that specialism.