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Use a content guideline to make sure you are answering the ITT questions

Are you getting feedback from evaluators that your proposal doesn’t always answer the ITT questions? Before you copy content from your previous proposals, consider developing a content guideline.

 

Use a content guideline to make sure you are answering the ITT questions.

If your approach to writing a first draft of your proposal is to copy all the questions from the ITT and then populate them from your tender library, then you are not alone – this is the way most companies develop their proposals.

But an important step is being missed.

If you want to score better on your tender evaluations, you need a roadmap for what you are going to say before you start pasting in your standard content. A content guideline will ensure your tender win strategies come through clearly in your response and that you answer all aspects of the ITT questions.

So what’s the best way to do this? After you have developed your response template, make a list of what should be covered and what win themes need to be mentioned under each question. Treat it like a mini-brainstorm of everything that should be included in the response.

Then you can start populating with your standard content and filling in the gaps. In this way you will build your response according to what the company is asking instead of what you already have available from past proposals.

As an example, many companies would respond to the following question by including team members in a table with a list of the projects they have worked on, and then their CVs in the appendix. Without developing the content guideline and thinking about what you want to say, it is easy to overlook the opportunity to strengthen your response and stand out from competitors.

ITT question: Details of key personnel to be assigned to the services and their experience delivering a project of this scale and nature, including CVs.

Content guideline:

·   Who is the team we are proposing? Provide a summary of their experience in a table.

·   What makes this team unique in their ability to deliver this project? What evidence can we provide from successful delivery of previous projects by this team? Detail the projects and the collective experience of the team.

·   Are there any areas we can mention where our team is stronger than competitors, e.g. greater breadth of skills/competence?

·   Do we have any testimonials or results we can show to support this?

·   Include CVs in the appendix – we need to customise these to include their role in the new project and make sure key project experience is highlighted.

Using a content guideline also has some other benefits:

  • It makes it easier for your contributors. It gives your technical or management team a guideline for what they should write.
  • It gives you a check list for information gathering. The content guideline is a ready-made interview questionnaire to use internally if you need to gather content yourself.
  • It helps you to identify clarification requirements more easily up-front. The process of developing the content guideline quickly identifies which questions may need clarification from the customer.

What if you just don’t have time for this? Time pressure is the nature of tendering. If you are after a quick fix then you can always paste in your standard text and then include a call out box to address the topics in your content guideline. But don’t skip this step!

And remember, stock answers straight from your library are easy to spot and send a message to your potential customer that you rushed your response and have not prioritised their tender process. What impression does this give them about the importance to you of winning this job?

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