Having attended a number of industry briefings in the last couple of months when I hadn’t for a number of years, it reminded me of how invaluable they are as a consultant and service provider. They are critical when looking to work with a client for a number of reasons which include the following:
- I understand the “why” behind the tender submission or the client brief. That is, why they are looking for the outcomes they are, why this project is being undertaken, why this is important to them and other why questions that often are assumed to be known by service providers when tendering for work;
- They give me an understanding of the language, acronyms and approach each particular client takes to their engagement with service providers as well as internally within the organisation. This is important to assist in framing our bid submission, offering and approach in ensuring there is an alignment with the client should we get the opportunity to work together;
- We hear the important aspects of the project “between the words and lines”. A brief is just that. It is normally written by someone highly technical and is often not balanced with the people aspects of the work or the areas that perhaps are not clear to others. The opportunity to clarify, ask questions and seek answers is very important in ensuring we put together a submission that is going to meet and exceed the requirements of the client;
- We get to meet the people behind the brief. Normally, the people speaking are the people that you will be working with on the project. This is important in ensuring that we can understand their challenges, preferences and what they are looking for beyond the tender document from their service providers;
- There is an opportunity to understand who else may be looking to work for the client through seeing who is attending the industry briefing. This is important in gaining an idea on who the client has invited and what they may be looking for in addition to your offering. This may drive partnering discussions, joint venture opportunities and the like that could move your bid from a participating bid to a winning submission;
- We also may arrive at a decision not to bid for the work based on the industry briefing. The client and your organisation may not be a good fit or the work may not be in your core areas. This is critical for the go/no go bid process and also important in saving valuable time and resources in not bidding but also not wasting the time of the client; and
- It gives us an opportunity to shape our bid submission early with the key themes and concepts that are important to the client and important to our story. The earlier we have time to articulate in our responses the better. Given that tender times are often constrained, the industry briefing kicks off these internal discussions in a positive, proactive and client focussed manner.
As you can see above, there are many benefits to the industry briefing. I am not sure why more clients do not use them as I have not met a service provider that does not value them and it increases exponentially the quality of the bid submissions they will receive which is the goal of any tender. Perhaps challenges like probity and time get in the road of an important step that allows alignment between the client and the service provider and also between what is written and what is important. These two gaps are important to minimise in ensuring we build trust and allocate risk appropriately during a tender process in ensuring value for money outcomes are achieved for the client.