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bid writing

Grappling with Graphics

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Grappling with Graphics

There are no surprises to be had when I say that bidding is mainly writing. With this naturally comes the organisational aspects such as planning and time management, but, in order to churn out the 50000 words say to complete a compliant bid, content is key.

However, content is not necessary limited to letters and punctuation. The idiom "a picture is worth a thousand words" comes to mind. In bidding, you have to show the Commissioner your vision, and what more practical way to achieve this than through images?

Photos can be used, presenting a certain location or initiative already established within the community. This can aid in supporting an explanation, or providing the Commissioner with visuals to further fortify the foundations of your bid. It also simply breaks up the text for those who are reading your work, making it easier to digest.

Graphics are also great for illustrating structures, models, and pathways. For example, most bids ask for a staffing structure to demonstrate how you plan to run the service, clearly showing the lines of governance. Describing that would leave the interpretation of the structure itself up to the reader, a potentially risky strategy when explaining a complex service. This is where graphics spring in to leave no question as to the proposed plan.

Another key factor is what everything means for the patient, the service user, the client. How it modifies their care pathway. How it changes their life. This pathway is the keystone of your answer, how you can innovate and revolutionise healthcare in that area with your proposal. It's all very well describing the service through the delivery model, but not enabling the Commissioner to visualise the impact within the community does it no justice. This is where patient pathway diagrams are useful, guiding the reader through the positive changes for the service user.

You don't need to be an expert in graphic design to create these diagrams (although you can create some pretty snazzy ones if you are), as programmes such as Microsoft PowerPoint enable you to easily create a basic flowchart. However, getting to grips with products like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign allow for the creation of simple and striking diagrams to effectively support your writing.

Do you want some help with your graphics? Or maybe just need some support explaining your delivery model? No matter what your bidding need, HealthBid are here to help. Drop Tom Sheppard a line at tom.sheppard@healthbid.co.uk to find out more.

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Deadlines: never miss one again

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Deadlines: never miss one again

We’ve all been there – half an hour before the deadline, and still hurrying to get the last pieces of the puzzle together. Your heart is pounding, hands are sweating, and you’re completely rushed off your feet.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Since HealthBid are experts at meeting strict deadlines, we have come up with a few handy tips to help you on your way to meeting all your future targets.

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Word Counts: Make your Words Count

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Word Counts: Make your Words Count

Capture planning, designing the solution, story-boarding answers… Here at HealthBid, we recognise these as the key parts of the process that is bidding. However, when composing the bid itself, the basic rules of writing come back into play: structure, content, & word counts. Structure and content are on the whole prepared for through the previous stages, yet word counts are set by the commissioning body and have to be adhered to. Unless, of course, there is no word count... Either way, capped or uncapped, it is a useful part of the question to take into account.

 

Capped

When there is a word count, this is a good indication of how much content you should include. For example, 500 words indicates only the bare bones of your ideas should be cohesively included, whereas 4000 words really gives you room for examples, thorough explanations and justifications.

Despite what can feel like frustrating restrictions at the time, word counts can improve your answer. They prevent you from waffling, forcing you to be concise and really reflect on what you are writing. They are therefore not just there to consume yet more time through cutting words at the end of the project.

However, the amount of content you have for each question will differ. There is little point padding out an answer just to reach the word count when you could have said the same information in half the number of words. This will retract from the key points within the response and just serve to dilute your answer. It is important to be confident with your writing; if you believe you have covered all the important points and communicated them well, yet are under the word limit, leave it be.

With a capped word count, also make sure to thoroughly read the tender documentation. Where you include diagrams, appendices, etc., be aware that, in some cases, these may count towards the word count.

 

Uncapped

Bid responses can also have no word count. This may initially seem like the ideal situation, with the possibility to write whatever you want without any consideration for its length. It certainly is a lot easier when you first put pen to paper, as there is less pressure to adhere to a limit. However, as mentioned above, word counts can help your answer. The danger is that, with an unlimited amount of words, the key points are hidden within a large amount of other information which, if we’re honest, isn’t entirely relevant and consequently doesn’t need to be there.

In this situation, it is often helpful to set your own limit. Having read the question and knowing your content, the information required is usually clear, thus the necessary length of the response reflects this. It also makes sense if there are multiple bid writers working on the same submission, as it avoids large discrepancies between the lengths of answers, making the bid more cohesive when read as a whole.

 

If you need support with any part of the bidding process, from simply cutting down your answers to fit the word count to writing it your responses for you, get in touch with our Managing Director, Tom Sheppard, at tom.sheppard@healthbid.co.uk.

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HEALTHBID HOTSEAT - GEORGIA THREADGOLD - BID WRITER - KANYE IMPERSONATOR

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HEALTHBID HOTSEAT - GEORGIA THREADGOLD - BID WRITER - KANYE IMPERSONATOR

The second instalment of our tell all hot seat quizzes with the HealthBid staff. Can Georgia make it through the interview without bursting into fits of giggles. You'll have to read on and find out. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

HB: What’s your middle name?

GT: Eloise

HB: If you were a colour what would you be and why?

GT: Red – The colour of my face right now. *giggles*

HB: What was the last thing you googled?

GT: Children’s Community Services – occupational therapy in 0-5’s.

HB: That’s what we like to hear, dedication to the job!

GT: I am nothing if not dedicated Joseph.

HB: If we were to look at your personal internet search history, what would be the most common theme?

GT: Social Media – People I used to go to school with! I can’t help myself!

HB: What food reminds you of your childhood?

GT: Spaghetti hoops and fish fingers.

HB: Ketchup?

GT: Of course!

HB: If you were to lead your own rock band, what would you call them?

GT: Oh come on Joe! Georgia aaaaaaaand The Hons? Five members probably. But I’d have to make some more friends firsts.

HB: Good Luck with that! Headphones or speakers?

GT: Headphones, don’t want to be sharing my Justin Bieber with the world.  

HB: What is your least favourite thing to do?

GT: Socialise.

HB: (interviewer and interviewee exchange awkward glances) Alrighty then. If you were any fictional character who would you be and why?

GT: Goldilocks – I am an experienced squatter and love porridge. Oh and I have blonde hair.

HB: You’re a while away from getting an office key then! Which celebrity do you think you look most like?

GT: Kanye. Obvs.

HB: How would you friends describe you?

GT : (Texts friend, waits one minute for response and reads) Caring, kind and funny. Oh Gosh those are all really boring! My boyfriend describes me as vanilla. (sad face)

HB: What causes do you feel passionate about?

GT: Mental Health, HIV, I've got a big list on my linked in.

HB: Any holidays planned this year?

GT: Yes Greece, sun and cocktails are all I need. All. Day. Long.

HB: Favourite tipple?

GT: Gin and tonic, dependent on the gin some kind of fruit!

HB: OK an easy one to finish. Your favourite thing about working at HealthBid?

GT: I like the variety of projects I’ve had to opportunity to work on already. We’ve got some interesting ones lined up too.

HB: Thanks, Georgia.

GT: No Problem. Have a great weekend everyone!

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Manage to win

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Manage to win

To be successful when bidding, there’s a simple way to approach it: to manage to win, manage the process. There are obviously other factors which contribute to the success, such as sector knowledge, meticulous scoping and effective writing. Yet without thorough management, your bid risks lacking focus and losing direction, ultimately meaning it won’t be at its best on submission day. Which is obviously too late.

 

We have said this many a time here at HealthBid (& we will continue to do so!): preparation is key to unlocking the door to success. It’s never too early to start on a tender, especially ones which run over a relatively extensive period of time. With the best will in the world, someone can’t keep when every document and every answer is due, as well as who needs to do what, all in their head. And, quite frankly, what’s the point? It won’t help others to see the progress of the team, and it’s so much easier to write it down.

 

If you do this, you’re already on the right track. However, your own notes and squiggles can often be difficult to interpret by someone else, which is usually fine if they’re just for you. With a bid, it’s the teamwork which can make or break the process. For this reason, you need a communal document which everyone can access, consult and update; you then know what’s happening and when, and whether it has been achieved – perfect for keeping an eye on progress, and managing the outcomes.

 

With the emphasis on teamwork, HealthBid are not just your average bid consultancy. We can of course follow the usual approach, providing you with one of our associates, but we can also offer our a more multi-skilled approach with our in-house bid engine. It keeps it simple and effective: with only one day rate to pay as standard, you get the best combination of bid writing, bid management, and specialist insight of a whole team, with all the varying skills in there. To revolutionise the way you bid or simply just to find out more about our blended approach, contact our Business Development Manager, Joe, at joe.gatenby@healthbid.co.uk

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Style & Substance

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Style & Substance

 

When doing creative writing as part of an English class, it is always important to write for your audience. School tends to teach you how to identify who they are, what they like, and then tweak your writing style accordingly. Register, tone, tenses… These are all buzzwords of English writing which have an impact on your final piece.

 

Even though your school days may feel like a while ago (or perhaps just a few years!), the lessons learnt here are valuable. For example, the tone and register you use in a job application will be different to that when writing a party invite to your closest friends. In every situation, there’s a subtle difference in style which is important to pick up on, and bidding is no exception.

 

The bidding style could be seen as a unique combination of commercial (sales) writing, essentially persuasive writing, and storytelling. It’s important to be concise and clear to get across your key points, your win themes. The style you use will influence how your message is communicated to the Commissioner, and so it’s important to be on point. For example, talking about yourself in the past tense too often makes it seem as though you’re not looking forward, and aren’t also currently achieving all of these things. Subtle nuances in the text like this can mount up to change the feel of the text, and so it’s important to bear in mind.

 

If you would like some support with your writing style, want us to write answers for you, or to simply review what you’ve done to maximise your chances of winning, give our Business Development Manager, Joe, a ring on 07341 338 200.

 

 

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Excel with Experience

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Excel with Experience

In certain situations, experience and the knowledge it provides is vital. For example, if you aren’t feeling 100% and you want to get a reliable second opinion, you’d trust the advice of your GP over that of your friend, as your GP has more knowledge and experience in that area. Likewise, if you have a specific issue when you go to your GP, such as an eye problem, you are sometimes referred to a specialist, an ophthalmologist in this case.

 

Experience is therefore evidently an asset. Bidding is no exception. You may know your organisation inside out, but ensuring that the knowledge is communicated in the best way can be a challenge. Writing a good bid isn’t just about knowing your own company either; other companies who will be competing, the commissioning body and the incumbent all are key things to analyse, and being able to use this knowledge effectively to your advantage is a skill.

 

Additionally, if you don’t have a bid team within your company, someone will have to write the bid on top of their day-to-day workload. We know that you’ll already be working your socks off, and this could be a big ask. Instead of compromising the quality of the bid, you can use HealthBid. We can help you to write your bid, write it for you, or check it at the end. Not only are we experienced in bidding, but we also know the healthcare sector inside out. When a contract is worth a hefty amount over, say, 5-7 years, why not invest in extra help to ensure you maximise your winning potential? If you want some extra support, give us a ring on 07341 338 200.

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The Strengths of Story Time

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The Strengths of Story Time

There is no doubt that writing is a powerful tool. When you’re young, bed-time stories are one of the highlights of your day. When you get just that bit older, despite the narratives changing slightly, stories still remain a great channel through which to engage people and express a point. This is why we believe they are a key factor to bear in mind when composing a bid.

Evidently, the aim here is slightly different to when you were a child; instead of falling into a blissful slumber, you want a story to bring your day-to-day accomplishments as a company to life, and strike a chord with the commissioner. Short of showing them in person how your company works, which of course you can do once the bid has been won, a story gives the most realistic impression of how what you do (and how you do it) would greatly help the situation in question.

Simply describing the way in which your services work and letting the commissioner deduce its benefits is a passive method which makes the reader disengage. Be creative: imagine up a character who is using your solution in their organisation, use it to show them how it has a positive influence on the lives of the patients, and therefore how it’s their best option. They can then visualise why they should choose your bid and services over others, setting you up nicely on the path to victory.

Last but not least, don’t forget to tell your company’s story. Just like tailoring your bid to the tender and to the commissioner as discussed in the last post, make your company relatable through giving it that more personal edge and help the reader to understand its purpose. Finding out who created the solution and why will make your bid stronger, as the commissioner will further comprehend your reasons for tendering. If you fancy getting your stories straight and streamlining your bid, don’t hesitate to call us on 07341 338 200 or send an email to joe.gatenby@healthbid.co.uk!

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Being Bespoke: the Benefits

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Being Bespoke: the Benefits

So you’ve found a contract you want to compete for, you have a sound knowledge of your product and company, and you want to get cracking with composing your bid… At HealthBid, we know that when you're creating a winning response, it’s good to start early, rein in your horses a little, and reflect on precisely what is being asked of you and perceive exactly how you’re going to approach the task in hand.

 

In this day and age, personalisation is the key to winning people over. Just consider internet adverts, hotel stays... Recognising the importance of tailoring something to someone is a great way to increase their satisfaction. Writing bids is no different. The tender is there to express what is needed in that particular case, and so it’s no use writing a story all about your great product or method if it’s not fundamentally fitting the specific requirements.

 

Think about it this way: would you like it if someone got you a Christmas present that has no relevance to you, and quite frankly was probably given to them as an unwanted gift last year? Well it’s the same here – recycling old approaches to quickly fit the spec could make your life easier in the short term, but it’s important to establish your operational solution which can do precisely what this contract is requiring & more: you have to be in it to win it!

 

Finally, people react to people. Simply stating the role title when describing your work depersonalises it and can desensitise the reader – make it relatable! Say who will be doing that role if (when) you win, and why not throw in a nice little picture of them in there too? On the same note, do your research on the commissioner, and address them personally. Tailor your bid to the reader and make it about your people. Be perceptive of what is needed. Make that extra winning effort.

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The Self-Awareness Strategy

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The Self-Awareness Strategy

Writing a bid isn’t as simple as just sitting down straight away and putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!): it is important to know both your product and strategy as well as what you’re competing for in order to put in that winning piece. Reflecting on your organisation as well as being perceptive of the specific situation is key to tailoring your bid to fit the mould… It’s all very well us here at HealthBid telling you this, but what are the practical implications? What should you be doing?

 

First things first - be self-aware. This doesn’t mean being able to critique yourself personally (although this isn’t such a bad thing!), but rather your product as a whole. Researching competitors as part of your capture plan not only shows you what you’re up against but also helps you to have a heightened awareness of your key strengths, enabling your win themes to develop.

 

In a similar light, if you are the incumbent and know certain occasions haven’t been your finest hour… don’t shy away, tackle them! The commissioner will be aware of what you’ve done, and so, instead of making empty claims, tell them (and, even better, show them through modifying your processes) how you are improving and how this has been the catalyst for change.

 

On a final note, being aware of your company means knowing your team. Need to ask a question about the operational solution? Call Gemma. The pricing? This one’s for Jeff. You get the picture – reflecting on the skills and roles of your team and therefore delegating responsibility in the best way possible enables information to be provided by the most pertinent people and a winning bid to be written.

 

Our next blog shall focus on the importance of accurately perceiving the demands of the tender, but if you find yourself needing any advice or more practical help with bidding in the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Joe, our Business Development Manager, on 07341 338 200.

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Answering the right question

Q: How did George Orwell's '1984' influence later writer's depiction of the future?

A: When thinking about George Orwell, it is easy to underestimate the influence of Aldous Huxley. 'A Brave New World', Huxley's depiction of a future...etc...etc

We've all done it - answered the question that we know the answer to, not the one that has actually been asked. In bid writing, it is a fatal mistake, and one that although easily avoided, is very common.

Once you as an organisation have put together your solution design, it is good practice to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of that solution. This is a positive step - it links your bid to your sales strategy, and allows you to weave a commercial thread through the bid.

However, then come the ITT questions - and they don't ask about your biggest strength. So, instead of answering the question asked, you instead answer the question you wish that they'd asked. 

When the evaluation panel opens the responses, and gets to that question, they will be confused - why is organisation x talking about Aldous Huxley when we asked about George Orwell? We really wanted to know about Orwell, and here's a load of Huxley. Mark it down.

There are some easy ways to avoid this.

  • Carry out a thorough review process - and if a response doesn't seem to fit, then speak it out loud. Often saying the words makes it clear that an answer isn't right.
  • Make sure that someone reviews your answers who didn't write them. And that you allow them to be critical
  • Think about how your strengths can be reflected in your answers without completely diverting them - this can be subtle, but is important

However, the best way of avoiding this situation can only happen before the writing starts at all - know and engage you potential customer. If they know about your strengths well in advance of coming to market, and if you have done a good enough job of convincing them that these strengths are critical to the success of their contract, then you will see that reflected in the questions.

It's one of our key tenets - writing a winning bid starts long before a tender is issued.

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