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healthbid

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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Refine your design

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Refine your design

As you may presume, the main focus of bid writing is, indeed, writing. Yet it is important in the early stages of your planning process to fully think through what you’re offering, i.e. what you will be writing about. The service specification will provide the basis for what you’re writing, but the way that your organisation interprets it and provides its solution is another way to secure a win.

 

The solution design really comes from that early planning stage we always speak of – you can gather information about the commissioning team, the incumbent, the approaches of competitors, and any other relevant information. Bidding events are another great way to gauge the situation, often giving you a chance not only to clarify the spec but to get a feel for what the commissioners want.

 

So, with all that in mind, solution design should reflect what you’re capable of, what your organisation believes in, and what is being asked for. Ensuring you come up with a solution at a reasonable price (not always the cheapest, just so long as it represents good value for money), which offers something that not only responds to the service spec but also has room for progress and innovation, gives you the all-round package. Once you have your solution design, the writing can begin to take its final shape.

 

Here at HealthBid, we don’t just write bids. We also use our expertise and strategic viewpoint to support the creation of your solution design. If you want help with creating your plan, or maybe just a bit of support with putting it on paper for the final bid, we can offer our blended approach of writing, reviewing and expert strategic advice, or whichever combination suits you best. Give our team a call on 07341 338 200 if you want to find out more.

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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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A Win-Win Situation

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A Win-Win Situation

As we have said many a time here at HealthBid, preparation is key. You always stand a much greater chance of success if you take the time to prepare and organise the bidding process. There are many stages to this, but no matter which you’re at: if you want to win, you have to know how. Enter the win strategy.

 

As part of the capture planning process during your preparation, you will perform both analyses of your company and your competitors. Out of this should blossom factors which can be highlighted to put you in a prime position to win, as well as instances where you can’t quite match up to others... Win strategies incorporate all of these: your strengths are obvious winning leads, yet identifying your weaknesses and mitigating them is also an important part of strategically developing your answers.

 

To ensure your bid really gets across your strengths, streamline your win strategy into win themes. Having concise bullets which perfectly encapsulate why you should win makes it easier to weave them through your answers. With these key ideas both overtly and subtly included in all of your responses, not only can you provide an answer to the main areas of the specification but you can also reinforce your strengths to make your bid stand out above the others.

 

Without these win themes, you have less focus on what you’re aiming to highlight. Win themes therefore not only help the writing process but also the Red Team (what is a Red Team? See our previous blog post here!). You can compare and contrast what your answers really say with the key ideas you wanted to initially get across, making any relevant changes to strengthen them before submitting the bid.

 

Want help with creating your win strategy? Picking out your win themes? How about checking your answers are in sync with them? For any help with the bidding process, get in touch with us on 07341 338 200, or send an email over to our Business Development Manager, Joe (joe.gatenby@healthbid.co.uk).

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Reasons to Red Team

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Reasons to Red Team

Composing a bid can be just like any other sort of writing: at the start, you have good intentions of allowing yourself enough time to check your work thoroughly, reflect on the specification and make sure you have answered everything. In practice, when life happens, you may find yourself finishing the bid a bit closer to the final deadline than anticipated. Ideally, you should still check your work; in reality, you skim read it and think ‘it’ll do’. This is why red teaming is so key: organise a time to discuss the work, constructively criticise it and spot those little errors.

 

First things first, how can you avoid sailing a bit too close to the wind when it comes to deadlines? If you know that you have a tendency to finish things last minute, create your own deadline to stick to. If you make plans to go through your work with other people, something which is extremely beneficial to the resulting bid, there’ll be more motivation to get it done in advance.  

 

Once you have met your own deadline, it’s important to get a second opinion before that of the commissioner. Go through your work line by line, picking up on any small turn of phrase or grammatical mistakes which could be improved, as well as keeping in mind both the question and your win themes (if you find yourself scratching your head at this term, keep an eye out for our next blog!). Don’t be afraid to change it up a bit – on a first draft, it’s important to answer all of the points and, on the second, make it a more engaging read and ensure it will stand out above the others.

 

Finally, be impersonal. Obviously pick up on things you could improve next time you’re writing, but don’t take anything to heart. Your colleagues criticising your work constructively isn’t them criticising you, and it’s always easier to improve pre-existing work than to write it from scratch! This is what a red team is all about: a joint effort and open discussion will ensure an all-round better bid, helping to secure that win.

 

There are no prizes for second best – clichéd maybe, but very true here! There is little point in writing a bid half-heartedly, and so if you want a new yet extremely knowledgeable pair of eyes to have a look through your bid, contact us on 07341 338 200.

 

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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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It’s hard selling to the NHS?

Writing and creating bids is not easy. Far from it. It takes a lot of time, preparation and effort. Not to mention flair, creativeness and great customer knowledge. And that’s just the starting point. Imagine if you’re new to the market. The opportunities in the NHS for organisations are huge especially those with new innovations and ideas.

But working with the NHS is different, very different. The language, the acronyms, the process all have to be navigated successfully and this is really before you’ve even pondered how best to present your products and services. Taking these first steps can be challenging and often baffling – this is why we decided to create a basic training package for private sector businesses – the sessions help you breakdown what’s needed and how you start the process of creating sales and bidding strategies for the NHS.

We give you direction and advice about what will and what won’t work. We believe these type of intense training sessions will save you significant time and effort and also help you understand the likely timescales and barriers for success. If your company is just starting to think about selling to the NHS why not give us a call or drop us a line. 

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