In the Rough Guide to the Bid and Proposal Profession, we found a name for the people who work in a bid team: bidmasters. But what is it that bidmasters do? It seems there is no generic noun that encompasses all of the activities within the bidmasters profession.
Where do other professions find a noun?
Looking at other professions, there appears to be a number of ways the noun for each is derived. The most common is to revise the ending of either the topic or the verb.
That might sound a bit like a grammar lesson, so let’s break it down.
Some example of topics are music, law, accounts, art, politics, beauty. If we add an appropriate ending onto these, we have a noun. Endings include -er, -yer, -or, -ian, -ant, and –ist. So now, we have musicians, lawyers, accountants, artists, politicians and beauticians.
How about verbs? Thinking back to early school days, verbs are action words: write, design, teach, train, manage, drive, act, bank, market, care, farm, buy.
The vast majority of verbs pick up an –er or an –or, and on the odd occasion an -eer to become a noun. Adding in to our professional mix, we have writers, designers, teachers, trainers, managers, drivers, actors, bankers, marketeers, carers, farmers and buyers.
There are also a few professions where the noun and verb are the same, such as, nurse, doctor and model. Finally, some people refer to being ‘in’ a profession, where it is more generic, such as sales or business, which avoids using a gender-specific ending.
If we follow this pattern in its most simple form for our bid team, we soon run into a problem. Logically, a person who works on a bid, would become a bidder. That clearly doesn’t work as it’s already in use: the people who attend an auction and shoppers on eBay are bidders. That’s why we suggested “bidmasters” for the generic noun, using the definition of master as: “A skilled practitioner of a particular art or activity.” In this case, the art or activity is bid work.
What’s the right verb?
Next on the agenda is figuring out the commonality between bidmasters, who, let’s face it, are a diverse group. A generic definition of what bidmasters do that works for contracts, funding requests, awards and investment opportunities is:
“Prepare propositions that meet a defined set of requirements for a specific opportunity to convince the recipient to accept, adopt or implement the offer.”
In the dictionary, there are two rarely used verbs that seem to encompass what bid teams do:
Propone, “to suggest for consideration; propose.”
Propound, “to put forward or offer for consideration, acceptance, or adoption; set forth; propose.”
Propone just doesn’t sound right. Propound, though, has a certain ring to it.
It sounds positive about the outcome of the offer. It doesn’t have multiple meanings and hence, avoids confusion. It’s relatively easily translated, as many languages use similar words; which helps with global acceptance.
The activity bidmasters undertake can therefore be known as propoundment. Coincidentally and fortuitously, it is similar to procurement, which for contracts, is the other side of the same coin.
Job Titles within Propoundment
Evolution is a better way to achieve acceptance of a new noun, rather than revolution. Therefore, a radical renaming of job roles isn’t necessary. With procurement, where a variety of terms are used, such as Buyer and Purchasing Manager, the most senior roles are often referred to as Head of Procurement.
Accordingly, bidmasters work in the propoundment profession and spcialists within the field include existing roles, such as Bid Manager and Bid Writer. Leading the charge is the Head of Propoundment.
How do we spread the word?
The challenge, as always, is marketing a little-known word. But propoundment is a burgeoning field that is only just finding its voice so while it grows, it can also adapt. Propoundment Googles well, so it should be easy to assimilate.
Perhaps a good start would be for the professional body, The Association of Record for Bid, Proposal, Business Development, Capture and Graphics Professionals (APMP) to revise its name to include propoundment. The Association for Propoundment Management and Production perhaps. It’s just a thought.