I went to a pre-bid conference today for a county design-build project.  It was lightly attended by mostly the subconsultants who were looking to sign on with a prime contractor.  It’s always interesting to observe how different companies approach the pre-bid conference.  You see the various consultants that are actively trying to sign up with a contractor and the contractors trying to avoid making any commitments to team – for now.

When I attend pre-bid conferences, I usually try to do four things: be visable; listen to all of the information; ask questions; and pay attention to the pre-bid attendee list.  Below is a little more information about each tip.

  1. Be Visable.  Usually when I attend a pre-bid conference, I always try to sit towards the front.  Even though the government procurement process is supposed to be non-biased, you still want to make sure you’re memorable.  By sitting in the front, my company and my RFP response may be a little more recognizable by the selection committee.  It’s a competitive market, so I’ll take any advantage I can get!
  2. Listen to all of the information (even the boring stuff).  Pre-bid meetings typically begin with a procurement manager reading key portions of the RFP and/or pointing out which aspects will be clarified with an addendum later.  This part of the meeting is pretty tedious (but necessary) and it’s usually challenging to maintain one’s attention as the procurement specialist goes through the procurement process for the agency.   Being read to from the RFP can take anywhere between 15 – 20 minutes.  However, I’ve been in meetings where this portion of the meeting can take an hour.  It’s a good idea to pay attention during this part of the meeting because you’ll be surprised by how many important details the procurement officer points out that you may have glazed over when first reading the RFP.
  3. Ask questions and listen to the questions asked. Following the read through of the general procurement procedures and the proposed schedule, a project manager usually goes over the scope of work.  Here’s where it gets a little more exciting as more information about the project is disclosed.  Questions start popping up from the attendees and you learn the key concerns for the agency.  This information is critical for your RFP response.  Pay attention!  Make sure you incorporate these aspects into the narrative of your proposal – especially in the cover letter.
  4. Pay attention to the pre-bid attendee list.  Following the pre-bid meeting, you can usually get a copy of the attendees from Demandstar or the agency’s procurement site.  The pre-bid list is extremely useful because you can get a feel for who your competition is for the contract.

 Summary

So now you know how to make the most out of a pre-bid conference. The next time you pursue a contract, make sure you attend the pre-bid meeting no matter how busy you may be.  If you can’t attend, make sure you send someone who can represent your firm.

If you have any questions about pre-bid meetings, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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Creating Balance During the Proposal Pursuit

Creating Balance in the Proposal Process
The idea of work-life balance has gained a lot of popularity in recent years as millennials have entered the workplace. Working a 9 to 5 and then going home and turning off work is getting harder thanks to mobile connectivity.  Instead of looking at work and life as two separate places, what happens when we start examining them as intertwined pattern woven together.  Each strand has a different color, a different meaning, but when woven together, produces a beautiful pattern.  When our work-life balance is working, this pattern is really nice to look at.  When it’s well…we usually start looking for another job but we don’t really ever think about what went wrong in the process.
As a manager, if you can extend your empathy out and start focusing on creating a family environment in the office, you’ll find the benefits rewarding.  This attitude will help you as a manager start to feel less stress because you’re not trying to compartmentalize people and things and instead, viewing them as an organic extension of your mission and values.
Here are three ideas for a more balanced workplace:
  1. Trust as a foundation.  Establishing trust as a major element of your team is key to getting the most out of employees in your organization.  What you can see in a lot of organizations are elements for creating distrust. Although time sheets are required for billing, and open floor plans are more efficient, your employees may feel like they’re constantly being watched.  Although some of these tools and strategies may be operational necessities, creating ways to make a workplace feel like a place of trust are even more important than ever.
  2. Failure is okay.  Not only should failures (big and small) be okay, but the lessons learned should be rewarded.  If your team is pushing limits to their creativity, there are bound to be some failures along the way.  At Facebook, “Fail Faster,” was a key mantra.  The faster the Facebook team failed, the quicker they got to the right solution.  The main point being, once your team gets over the fear of failure, solutions and success come faster.
  3. Have a framework to work through disagreements.  In many organizations, the fear of conflict can paralyze progress.  As a team, it’s important to have a framework for working through problems so these issues don’t fester and create blocks in your team’s productivity.

Working and winning projects can be an intense process.  Long hours and tight deadlines can really create a lot of drama for proposal teams.  In order to keep the team working well, a deep foundation of trust, openness to failures, and a framework to work through disagreements are all key to making sure a team survives all of the bumps in the road.  Contact us for more help with training your proposal team.