The Importance of External Reviews

Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you read an old bid response and you start finding mistakes? From small spelling and grammatical errors, to realising a paragraph had been duplicated in multiple sections, or worse – previous bid content had been used and the name of the client had not been updated! Well you’re not alone. It happens to the best of us.

Recently, a client was telling me of a bid that his company had submitted for a major contract. It was the first time this manager had seen the submitted document and he was shocked to find huge amounts of errors, both big and small. It seemed the bid team had used a previous bid document as their base for their response. This approach is fine and it is standard practise to use your bid library in the development of a new bid response. However, the team had not been careful when editing the copied sections, and more importantly, due to a short bid time frame, the company’s usual bid review process had not been followed.

This culminated in the submission of a document for a $100m+ contract with errors, including the incorrect name of the client throughout the response and large amounts of content on water services systems, processes and procedures – for a contract with no water service requirements. Understandably they were not awarded the bid.

The sad thing about the entire situation was that my client picked up most of these errors within a short half hour review. Imagine if someone on the bid team had taken the time to seek an external review (either external to the bid team or organisation) prior to submitting. I’m sure they would have had a much better chance of winning the project.

It’s very difficult, some would say almost impossible, to review your own work and the importance of external reviews during the bid process cannot be over emphasised. External reviewers provide a non-biased view and can give critical feedback on whether the solution and the writing will make sense to the client. Subject matter expert reviewers provide an alternate perspective and they can deep dive into your solution and recommend changes, advice, and additional commentary to enhance the final product. And let’s not forget, external reviewers can pick up those embarrassing errors like the wrong client name.

So, make sure external reviews are incorporated into your bid management process, and the right subject matter experts are chosen to complete this essential task.

One final lesson to learn from my client’s example is this; if the deadline is tight and you don’t have time to do the appropriate reviews – maybe you should give this bid a miss.

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