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Meet the Bid Buzz Knowledge Day Speakers

Meet the Bid Buzz Knowledge Day Speakers

We’re counting down the weeks to our Bid Buzz Knowledge Day. It’s going to be a day of networking and learning new skills to improve bid writing. We have expert speakers who will be revealing the latest insights from the construction industry. Here’s the low-down on who will be speaking.

Andy Hammond – Managing Director, Propeller Studios

Andy Hammond has been Managing Director of Propeller Studios since 2003. He has a solid track record of winning work, controlling costs and managing processes.

Since starting Propeller, he has overseen the development of EasyBOP, an integrated Business Operations Platform. He has also developed the award winning EasyPQQ software. This product acts as a knowledge hub, search engine and bid management tool.

Stuart Parkes – Director, Propeller Studios

Stuart joined Propeller Studios in 2011 and has continuously worked with and secured contracts on ‘must win’ tenders and frameworks for many retained and new clients.

Prior to this, Stuart worked at two of the UK’s largest engineering consultancies, where he dealt with responding to OJEUs for many major projects. He has extensive knowledge of managing bids for a range of sectors, including construction, rail, civil engineering and social housing.

David Lowe – Public Procurement & Collaborative Contracts Consultant

David specialises in public procurement and collaborative contracts. He actively supports public-sector clients, implementing best practice procurement and lecturing on collaborative contracts such as the NEC. This experience has given him extensive procurement experience of ‘open’, ‘restricted’ and ‘competitive dialogue’ procedures, successfully delivering over 75 frameworks. Public sector clients including Local Authorities, utilities, developers, RSLs, FM and procurement bodies including SMARTE EAST and SCAPE.

Sue Ward – Senior Bid Writer, Propeller Studios & CITB Construction Ambassador

Sue is an experienced Senior Bid Writer, having joined Propeller Studios in July 2014. She is experienced at completing Pre-qualification questionnaires and quality submissions. She is MCIOB and MInstLM.

She was Head of Bids for a National Contractor, and has a wealth of experience of consortium bids with larger and smaller contractors, as well as experience of tendering for social housing new build and refurbishment, non-traditional property refurbishment, schools, sheltered and extra care schemes, public and communal buildings eco-retrofit, renewables and solar PV. Her aim is not just to pre-qualify, but to come first on every PQQ!

There is still time to book on to this one-day seminar. For more information and the agenda, click here.

Reduce your bid writing stress now!

Reduce your bid writing stress now!

Writing and completing bids and tenders is stressful. With competing deadlines, no time to write and other tasks needing your attention, a bid writer is going to feel the pressure to succeed. Pressure is good, but not when the stress gets too much – that’s when quality of work slips and mistakes can be made.

What are the signs of bid-related stress?

Stress is a universal emotion, but bid writers are likely to experience high levels due to strict deadlines and high stakes. Physical symptoms of stress can include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Feeling ill all the time
  • Struggling to sleep
  • Appetite changes
  • Overactive mind

What can you do to combat the symptoms of high-level stress? Here are a few tips on how to ease your stress levels during the bid writing process.

Be selective

The biggest question bid writers face is whether they can win the bid they have been assigned. This means looking at the resources, time and money that have been allocated to the task, as well as the bid writer’s own background knowledge of the tender. What is a good indicator you could win? Using the free bid/no bid tool, you can ascertain whether you have a good chance of winning the bid being presented, saving you time later on.

Assign ownership

A bid is a big task to take on, but you can’t do it all alone. If you are the bid manager, make sure you delegate work to the rest of your team. It is also important to make sure they are aware of what is expected of them, and when the deadlines are. This is where the stress can build if you and your team aren’t aware of what the others are doing. You don’t want excuses to roll in last minute!

Knowing what you and your team are working towards will give structure to your day-to-day routine. You can do this either in an excel sheet or use efficient document management software like EasyPQQ, which links you with your colleagues, so you are all using the same system in real-time.

Keeping on top of things

The key to staying calm is keeping organised throughout the duration of the bid. Think about the resources at your disposal, such as your colleagues or other aids, especially if you are struggling to hit the deadlines. You’ll feel more in control. It helps to put in earlier deadlines so that you are always ahead, in case of those last-minute changes or staff emergencies.

Flexibility is key

It can be frustrating when a client changes their mind, or a mistake has delayed your work. It can be demoralising after you’ve worked so hard, but life happens. Sometimes you need to let go of your rigid plan and go with the flow to get the best results.

Switch off

Don’t take your work home, if you can help it. You may need to work overtime to hit deadlines, but once you have finished work for the day, switch off and do something relaxing. Whether that’s watching tv, reading a book or exercising, take some time for yourself away from the bid(s) at hand. It can be difficult in busy periods to switch off completely, but for your work/life balance, it is important you try to relax in your down-time. Make sure you eat, sleep, and most importantly, breathe!

Things to remember:

  • Be selective about taking on bids with the bid/no bid tool
  • Diarise everything
  • Work with your team – it’s not all down to you
  • Relax in your down-time – a bid shouldn’t take over your life

Reduce your bid writing stress now
Are you struggling with a bid? Need some assistance but don’t know where to turn? Propeller Studios can help, with our experienced and qualified bid consultants, who specialise in writing winning bids and proposals. Visit our website to find out how we can help you.

Professional Mental Health & Stress Management Guidance
If you feel you need professional advice on stress management or mental health either inside or outside of work, visit Mind, the national mental health charity, for more information. 

We are seeking Bid Writers!

We are seeking Bid Writers!

Propeller Studios are seeking qualified freelance bid consultants to write content for bids (SQ, PQQ and ITTs) for a wide range of UK based clients.  We are a very well-established bid consultancy providing professional services. We have an excellent track record of securing work for our client base.

You will join our team of approved bid professionals. The role is extremely demanding, working to tight deadlines, which must always be achieved. The role is home-based, with occasional visits to our head office in Hertfordshire and to clients’ offices.

We are expanding our pool of freelance consultants to work in the following sectors:

Construction   

Civil Engineering

Rail

Facilities Management

Professional Services

Highways

Waste Management

Water and Utilities

Healthcare

Airports and Ports & Harbours

 
The requirements:

  • You will have the equivalent of a minimum of 5 years bid writing or bid management experience
  • Your recent experience will have been as a freelance consultant or as a permanent employee as a bid writer or manager
  • Your experience will be in completing SQ, PQQ and ITTs for public sector contracts or writing compelling RFPs/proposals for commercial clients
  • You will be based in the UK
  • You will be an outstanding communicator with specific experience of liaising from executive to operational level to ensure your written responses are within our clients’ deliverable capabilities 
  • Qualified to APMP Practitioner level is desirable, but not essential. 

If you are interested, please email a covering letter and a copy of your CV addressed to Stuart Parkes at: 

office@propeller-studios.co.uk

Strictly no agencies please.

Propeller Studios are an equal opportunities employer.

Propeller Studios are ISO 27001 accredited.

The importance of Social Value in your bid responses

The importance of Social Value in your bid responses

We are seeing increasing scrutiny on social value questions in tenders and PQQs. Since the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 came into force, the public sector has had to ‘consider’ social value as part of any procurement. But recent reviews of the Act have led to a stronger requirement for public bodies to take positive action and become more accountable. As a result, the expectations for bidders to demonstrate clear and measurable impact in tenders has intensified.

Suppliers are increasingly asked to monitor their social value activity to prove the promises listed in their tender submissions come to fruition.

What is Social Value?

Social Value is the term used to describe the additional benefit created in the delivery of a service contract which has a wider community or public benefit. It extends beyond the value delivered as part of the primary contract activity and goes wider to improvements to the ‘economic, social and environmental’ well-being of the local area.

In procurement terms, it is a move away from awarding contracts based on lowest cost. Whereas evaluation criteria in the past may have been weighed 60% price and 40% quality, today we are seeing weightings of up to 20% for social value alone, so it’s a fundamental component of any successful bid.

Typical social value tender questions

Here are a range of examples of the kinds of Social Value questions which contracting authorities might ask:


Economic examples
:

How will you support local people to gain access to the employment opportunities that your contract will produce?

How will you create jobs through the growth of business and investment in the local area?

What work experience will you provide and how will this be achieved?

What work place schemes and opportunities will you provide for apprenticeships, traineeships, higher apprenticeships.

What training opportunities will you offer and to whom? For example, entry-level employment, engaging the unemployed, specific priority target groups, existing workforce.

What education engagement will you offer? For example, with schools, colleges or training providers and how will this be achieved? For example, through site visits, careers talks, work placements etc.

What opportunities are there for voluntary work and what benefits will volunteers receive?

Social example questions:

How will your organisation work to help others? For example, local charities, local community groups, local resident engagement, supporting local culture and heritage.

How will your supply chain ensure ethical considerations? For example, this could include ethical sourcing practices.

How will you promote the safeguarding and welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults?

How will you provide opportunities for all, including the most vulnerable, to make a valuable contribution and promote social integration? For example, this could include work opportunities for disadvantaged people.

How will you consider equality and diversity in the provision and operation of services? For example, this could include ensuring the workforce is representative of the communities served as part of this contract.

How will you protect and support the most vulnerable people?

How will you work towards improving the health and wellbeing of local residents and employees?

 

Environmental examples:

What are the main environmental impacts associated with delivering the contract outputs and how will impacts be reduced, managed and verified?

Have you set any specific environmental objectives to improve environmental performance during the duration of the contract? If so, what are they and how will environmental objectives be managed and verified?

How will you reduce energy and fuel consumption in the provision of the contract?

How will you promote initiatives which retain, protect, enhance and/or promote the character of the local natural environment for the benefit of local people and wildlife?

Please confirm what will be delivered, as part of contract delivery, in relation to any of the following and how this will be achieved: the re-use of resources, increasing recycling levels to reduce the amount of waste, use of environmentally friendly goods, reducing the carbon footprint, pollution reduction, improving fuel and energy efficiencies.

Will you operate an environmental management system certificated to ISO 14001 or equivalent throughout the period of the contract?

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Creating Social Value Responses

Responses to social value questions can vary considerably as they will be based on the specific needs of a local area. The scope of each contract and buyer expectations will also differ widely so its important to read the questions carefully and respond specifically to each element of the contract.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with local social value priorities to ensure that your commitments and responses reflect them. Never make the same standard commitments to every bid response, as each commissioning authority will have its own unique socio-economic challenges which they will be looking for you to address:

Below are some general pointers:

Your ‘economic’ responses might include:

  • Creating jobs for local people
  • Progressing towards paying a living wage
  • Supporting young people into apprenticeships
  • Using local suppliers and supporting a local supply chain
  • Investing in local SME businesses
  • Providing training or apprenticeship schemes
  • Promoting opportunities to work with local voluntary and community organisations

 

Your ‘social’ responses might include:

  • Improving the health and wellbeing of local residents and employees
  • Helping local charities and community groups
  • Championing ethical supply e.g. Fair Trade
  • Promoting social integration and community engagement e.g. involving local residents
  • Supporting local culture and heritage
  • Creating volunteering opportunities
  • Promoting safeguarding and the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults

Your ‘environmental’ responses might include:

  • Reducing energy and fuel consumption in the provision of the contract
  • Minimising waste through re-use and recycling
  • Using environmentally friendly goods to minimise pollution
  • Saving energy e.g. using energy efficient lighting and equipment
  • Promoting initiatives which retain, protect or enhance the local natural environment
  • Incorporating sustainability considerations into your supply chain
  • Implementing ISO 14001 environmental management systems


Resources for Calculating Social Value

Often your social value bid response will require some form of measurable return on investment calculation.

Many contracting authorities now have a social value toolkit, which is designed to help suppliers understand and deliver localised social value. These toolkits include ideas for the type of social value you might offer, potential partners and how you can calculate this for a winning tender response.

Social_Value_resources

There are several free to download Social Value Calculators as well as paid for social value tools on the market. We’ve listed a few free resources below to help you:

Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) operate a spreadsheet tool where you can input specific information and generate an assessment of the social value delivered through your bid proposals. The calculation will arrive at a ratio of how many pounds you will generate in social value, for money gained through the contract. https://www.hact.org.uk/value-calculator

The Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) offer a similar free to download calculator here:
https://www.sduhealth.org.uk/areas-of-focus/social-value/social-value-calculator.aspx

Business In The Community have compiled a detailed toolkit on Social Impact Measurement & Metrics which can be downloaded here https://www.bitc.org.uk/resources-training/toolkits/social-impact-measurement-metrics

The Considerate Constructors Scheme have a range of useful information on their Building Social Value website. http://buildingsocialvalue.org.uk/

If you need more support to create a winning social value bid response, please contact our bid response team on 01462 440077 or email Stuart@propeller-studios.co.uk

Maximising tender launch meetings

Maximising tender launch meetings

Holding an effective bid kick-off meeting is an important first milestone in the bid response process. It’s your ideal opportunity to provide key information, assemble content experts, gain buy-in from essential stakeholders, assign tasks and motivate the entire bid team.

Before the meeting date, there are several good practice tasks to you can undertake to make sure everything gets off on a firm footing:

Pre-meeting activities to maximise value on the day

  • Produce an agenda with an indication of time allowance per section.
  • Ensure you allocate enough time. A thorough bid launch meeting can easily take half a working day (4 hours)
  • Carefully consider who needs to be present – too many cooks spoil the broth
  • Circulate a copy of the ‘quality questionnaire’ before the meeting:

    – 500 word summary of the project
    – 500 word summary of the client

  • Clearly describe the deliverables of the meeting
  • Circulate any key documentation and specifically indicate which documents each team member should read
  • Produce a draft programme of what needs to happen during the tender period
  • Request that people who cannot attend send a deputy who can brief them after the meeting
  • Enlist someone to take minutes at the meeting and ensure dissemination afterwards

Tender launch meeting objectives – Your 13-point plan

With the right pre-meeting prep, you’ll be all set to brainstorm solutions and agree the approach. You should aim to achieve the following by the end of the meeting:

  1. Identify the individual who is leading the bid submission (Bid Manager)
  1. Introduce the bid team to requirements
  2. Identity any questions about the tender that can only be answered by the Buyer
  3. Discuss tactics for the bid process
  4. Agree a timeline to complete the work, including all necessary reviews
  1. Allocate resources to individual elements of the response
  2. Identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of your bid
  3. Ensure everyone is clear on the client ‘problem’ that your bid ‘solution’ will be addressing
  4. Agree the operational structure that will be in place to complete the work
  5. Identify theFramework Governance Structurefor framework bids
  6. Identify the person who will complete the skeleton response
  7. Choose the case studies that best illustrate your abilities, experience and expertise
  8. Agree the strategy by which the bid will result in a win

Need some support with running a bid launch meeting?

Take a look at our tender launch workshops

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