I love working with clients to win major infrastructure projects. The thrill of the chase, the pursuit of a great prize and the opportunity for consortiums to deliver their innovation, ideas and expertise to clients through a great bid submission that will hopefully lead to an opportunity to deliver the project.

Having spent many years now working with clients who have fantastic success in winning their fair share of bids, there is one key ingredient you need that increases your probability of winning that multi-million dollar bid which is time.  It may sound funny but the longer you have to really understand the project and what the client wants, the more prepared and focussed you can be in ensuring you bid to win rather than bid to participate.

So why is time so important when it comes to bidding and tendering for large projects?  You need time to work through your key winning bid strategies, time to form the very best team which includes key designers, consultants and sub-contractors.  You need time to work through the client challenges, key influencers, areas of focus, history of the project, key stakeholders and all those other areas that are critical in understanding well in order to put together the best possible bid submission.

I had a recent experience where this was the case as a bid coach.  I had a client ring me urgently the week before the tender was due and wanted urgent assistance to deliver a winning bid.  This was nigh on impossible to fulfil given the time constraints; we worked very hard and long hours to put in a bid submission but I don’t believe we gave ourselves the greatest chance of successfully presenting to the client why we were the team to deliver the project.  A shame for the client and for our team.

Without this key ingredient, your chances of winning a bid submission decrease in proportion to the time you have left before it is due.   Give yourself as much time as you can.  This extends even well before the tender comes out to the market through knowing the client well, building relationships over a long period of time and then ensuring that you gain the information and knowledge you need to put in a winning bid submission.

Just in time (JIT) may work in supply scenarios in industries like manufacturing but it does not work well in the space of bidding for work.  Remove JIT out of the equation by taking the time to focus on the tenders and clients that matter and building deep relationships that allow you to really pick these opportunities to tender early.