How to quickly create your bid document – 2

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This series outlines the steps to creating an effective and productive bid document (for tenders, quotes and EOI). Part 2 covers how to set up the lead-in pages and handle ancillary information.

As I mentioned in Part 1, when I am managing a bid submission for a client – whether a tender, quote or expression of interest (EOI) – the first thing I do is set up the response document. This blog is the second in a series of three that provide the steps for doing so. An effective and productive bid document needs to be completed quickly so that you and your team have the basis for preparing the bid consistently and all in one place.

The steps are…

  1. Isolate the Response Schedules (where relevant)
  2. Sort out the Microsoft Word features and definitions for the document
  3. Set up the lead-in pages for Title, Table of Contents and Executive Summary
  4. Set up a separate document for Ancillary Information
  5. Make separation of Sections easy: Start each Section on an odd page
  6. Now create a response matrix and start assigning the work

In this blog, I will give you my recommendations for steps 3 and 4.

3. Set up the lead-in pages for Title, Table of Contents and Executive Summary

Creating these pages at the front of your bid document will allow an assessor to easily and quickly:

  • Identify who you are in relation to their invitation to respond to a tender, quote or EOI
  • Get a feel for the size and simplicity of your bid’s structure

It will also allow you to set the tone of your submission.

Title Page

The Title Page of your bid document will simply be a replica of the Title Page from the first document in the downloaded tender/EOI documents. That is, the page that has in large print the name of the agency, the name of the document/tender and possibly a reference number, along with (usually in smaller print), the submission date and time and other details that may be pertinent to the process.

If it is not already present in the bid document you set up from the Response Schedules (see part 1), cut and paste it as the first page of your submission. You may have to adjust text and heading styles so that text from this page does not appear in the ensuing Table of Contents.

With the first page mimicking the Title Page of the tender/bid documents, add the text:

A Submission from Company Name

Then add your company’s logo to complete the branding of your submission.

At the bottom of the page insert a Page Break and a Section Break (Next Page). The Page Break puts a blank page behind the Title Page. The Section Break (Next Page) then forces a new section to start on the next page.

The result now is that you have a Title Page (this is page number one) followed by a blank page (page number two) and new Section starting on page number three.

Table of Contents

On page three insert a Table of Contents. Use the standard Table of Contents format derived from the styles for each of the Headings within the document. I suggest you untick the ‘Use hyperlinks instead of page numbers’ option when you look at customising the Table of Contents to your needs. This ensures that pagination will keep up with your changes to the document.

As you did with the Title Page, now insert a Page Break and a Section Break (Next Page). This allows the Table of Contents to stand alone with a blank page behind it and a new Section starting on what will now be page number five. You will now have four pages set up at the beginning of the Response Schedules.

Executive Summary

On page number five, add the heading Executive Summary and leave the remainder of the page blank ready for the Executive Summary to be added later. Insert a Page Break and a Section Break (Next Page) to create space prior to the first Response Schedule, which will commence on page seven (for now).

If I include the first Schedule, you will now have a document where the first eight pages will look like this example:

The pages that follow these eight will be the continuation of the Response Schedules through to the last.

You now have a bid document that looks professional and provides a simple and quick way for the assessor to navigate your submission. It also has the Executive Summary up front. Typically, the assessor does not need to read and assess your Executive Summary, however it will be difficult to avoid.

The purpose of the Executive Summary is to simply set the tone for all the information the assessor will read in the Response Schedules. Having read the Executive Summary, the assessor will be clearer on what it is your company is trying to explain and document in the Response Schedules.

(See our post on how to write an Executive Summary.)

4. Set up a separate document for Ancillary Information and Attachments

Any ancillary information outside that specified by the Response Schedule should be provided in a separate document.

(This does not include any sections titled “Additional Information” or “Any other Matters” specified in the Response Schedule. Such a section is the place for you to incorporate additional pertinent information, such as value-adds or customer service initiatives, if these have not been addressed within your submission already.)

Your Ancillary Information document may, however, include information you wish to provide that has not been specifically requested, or which you cannot fit within the document (either physically or due to a specified word limit). However, make sure all pertinent information is included in the body of the bid document, as assessors may not read or consider any information that has not been requested.

On the other hand, Ancillary Information also may include information that has been requested as attachments. For example, when agencies want confirmation of accreditations or insurance coverage, they will ask for copies of certificates to be provided. Often the agency will include a statement such as “please include any additional information as attachments to your submission”.

I advocate putting attachments and ancillary information into a separate document for the simple reason that it makes it easier for the assessor to swap between your primary bid document (arranged as per the Response Schedules, with reference to ancillary information by page number) and your ancillary information document without losing their place in either and disrupting the flow of their assessment.

You want to make it easy for the assessor to cross-reference to the ancillary document when invited to do so. The aim is for ancillary information to enhance rather than hinder the assessor’s experience.

To create the second document, you need only duplicate the Response Schedule document you just created. Call the filename something that describes the document as the repository for Ancillary Information. On the front cover, where previously there was text identifying the document as a ‘submission from company name’, change this text to:

Ancillary Information and Attachments to the Submission from Company Name

Within the document, leave the Table of Contents, but delete the Executive Summary and Response Schedules, and add Sections with Headings for each piece of Ancillary Information you wish to include. Don’t forget to update the Table of Contents to reflect the headings and page numbers for the addition of new Sections and new information.

The third and final post in this series will talk about how to improve the overall look and feel for both documents and assign work to your team:

  • Make separation of Sections easy: Start each Section on an odd page
  • Now create a response matrix and start assigning the work

Go back to – How to quickly create your bid document – 1
Read next post – How to quickly create your bid document – 3

For other useful strategies around tendering and proposal writing, see our Tendering Tips.

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