At HealthBid, we continue to deliver winning healthcare bids for our customers. Recently we’ve celebrated successes in the Department of Health Future Operating Model and 0-5 Children Services. Senior Bid Manager Darren O’Meara was instrumental in the delivery of some these key successes. We catch up with Darren for his insights in transforming that blank ITT into a successful tender. Read on for some top tips on how HealthBid’s proven bid management methodology offers an excellent pathway to producing high-quality content.

Congratulations on your latest wins Darren! To begin with, we wanted to ask you what your immediate approach is when assigned a project? 

Thank you, it’s been great to see our hard work resulting in some great successes for our customers.

Starting a new project, once we have identified stakeholders to be involved, a clear communication plan is agreed. The project plan can then be developed to facilitate the inclusion of all stakeholders at critical milestones. The project plan outlines both internal and external timescales and overall shapes both writing time and review around such key dates. In my experience, fundamental to effective project planning and ultimately, a winning bid, is taking the time to assess the opportunity to understand the key requirements and timelines of the bid. Equipped with this understanding we can then assist our customer in realising and developing their win themes to be articulated throughout the bid.  

At HealthBid, the Bid Engine provides a unique approach to bidding, offering a wealth of knowledge and expertise which is engaged for the benefit of each bid. Part of my planning involves engaging the Bid Engine to ensure each staff member assigned to the project is briefed and clear on their role in the bid process. Our model’s strength was demonstrated working with the NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership to achieve an unprecedented success - top scoring in all 6 Towers and securing the maximum 3 Towers within the Tranche 1 Procurement for the Department of Health Future Operating Model.

On the subject of communication, HealthBid works with many different healthcare companies across the UK and client liaison is key to efficient project management. How do you approach such liaison and keep clients updated on the bid management process?

The key to effective communication is early preparation, and here at HealthBid we often start the process of capture planning with customers before project documents have been issued. One of my first tasks, beginning a project is to identify who is the key point of contact for each client and key stakeholder. Identifying that key point of contact allows for regular targeted communication, a key element of efficient project management.

Each client brings their own unique experience and approach to the bid process - I see one of my main responsibilities as remaining flexible and quickly adapting my project management style to suit. In some cases, a project may concern multiple stakeholders, therefore I must remain adaptable to each stakeholder’s wishes, whilst also ensuring that decisions are made which every partner is ultimately happy with.

To take one example, in our successful work with NHS CPP, we worked with multiple stakeholders from each of the 4 founding NHS CPP Procurement Hubs including North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative, the London Procurement Partnership, Commercial Solutions and the East of England Collaborative Procurement Hub. The challenge with such a complex and diverse set of stakeholders was to secure the mutual agreement of each organisation to make sure each stakeholder was adequately engaged in contributing to the final bid response.

To assure successful liaison, we use a variety of methods of communication and do not simply rely on one medium. Effectively we strike a balance between telephone, email and face-to-face meetings. Whilst face-to-face meetings are a must for key milestones in the bid process such as Solution Design, Pink Teams and Red Reviews, regular communication is critical to engaging all stakeholders and often facilitated by conference calls at weekly intervals to ensure that all parties are informed and updated. 

As a Bid Manager, you often have several people working for you at once -  you’ve previously mentioned HealthBid’s Bid Engine. How do you assign workload and work with these staff members?

I will often assign content to team member based on their knowledge or experience of a certain topic, however it is important to build on a writer’s existing skillset, as a fresh perspective can equally provide unique and engaging responses.

Managing a project team involves consistent review to ensure progress in line with the project plan. Proactive planning, complemented by regular internal review optimises the quality of the bid response.  

As an experienced bid professional, you have worked on a variety of OJEU procurement processes for clients. Longer open processes, such as Competitive Dialogues, can often last several months. Do you have a particular methodology to deal with these processes as opposed to closed processes, consisting of an SQ and ITT?

Fundamental throughout every procurement – be it a closed or an open process - is that the client solution is presented and articulated in a manner which maximises the opportunity available. Drawing on our established and proven bidding methodology, including capture planning and use of review meetings, throughout each and every stage of the process is essential to ensure the customer is prepared for each stage.

For example, we recently successfully project managed the bid process for a 0-5s Service for a well-respected NHS Trust which included 2 competitive dialogue sessions prior to ITT. Through regular design/review meetings we were able to identify win themes which were consistently and clearly articulated to the Commissioner and developed and enhanced throughout the various procurement stages.

Such longer projects are more prone to change according to Commissioners’ wishes. How do you react to such alterations as changing timelines?

As a business, reacting to the changing face of healthcare is one of the key strengths of HealthBid. The agile nature of our Bid Engine provides the flexibility and experience to react to changing commissioners wishes. Our approach goes beyond consultancy; to actively provide a comprehensive and winning bid response which has been shaped by our customer and driven by HealthBid. Such a nature relies on the dynamism of our staff, and the flexible nature of our bid methodology.

Finally, given your recent successes, what do such results mean to you?

We work so closely with our clients; the challenges we face together throughout the bid process, combined with the trusted relationships we build, ensure that the outcome of the bid is personal to us. We anticipate results as much as our clients and there is no better feeling than celebrating our successes.

If you’d like to hear more about our bid management process, don’t hesitate in calling Laura Moore on 07341338200, or sending us your details.