Are you leaving your rebid preparation too late?

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(hint: the answer is probably yes)

How many days, weeks or months do you spend preparing for your rebid ahead of receiving the customer’s documentation?

In many ways the months prior to your customer releasing the official rebid documentation (either the OJEU, RFI etc depending on which market you work in) are the most important period for you in winning your rebid. If you prepare too little, or too late you will lose a lot of the advantages you have as the incumbent:

Too late to understand your existing delivery?

Without a period of focused preparation you are likely to go into your rebid without all the information and understanding you could and should have to make the most of your incumbency. That doesn’t just mean knowing the details about what you have done on the contract (though it means that too), but also knowing (from researching and talking to the customer) what the customer really thinks about your period of incumbency, what they want and expect in the new contract, and how you might best give them what they want profitably.

Too late to make last minute changes?

You will also enter the rebid without having had the opportunity to make any ‘last minute’ changes to the contract delivery. By taking an early look at your contract you can spot and resolve any outstanding issues, unmet promises, or areas where customer needs have changed, but you haven’t responded sufficiently. Early review of what is needed in the next contract also gives you the opportunity to test or pilot elements of the new solution on your existing contract. If you have started your rebid preparation early enough.

Falling behind the customer’s own preparation timetable?

The customer will be preparing for the rebid (for them the procurement) in the months prior to the official release of documents and the ‘start’ of the rebid proper. They will be deciding whether or not to extend the existing contract period, and what the scope of the new contract should be. For instance whether the contract scope will change geographically, or the range of tasks to be involved expand or be reduced, whether to join up multiple contracts in to one, or split existing contracts into Lots or separately competed contracts. They will be writing a new specification for the contract, and potentially new Terms and Conditions. They will also be deciding how to evaluate the contract: will price be more important, how will they weight different questions in their marking, what questions will they ask, what KPIs and KPI levels will they set? Who will be involved in marking and making decisions about who wins?
If your rebid preparation efforts don’t at least mirror the timing of these decisions you won’t be able to influence them, and they will be very hard to change once the process is official and public. You may not even get to know about the changes until you read the documents when they are released, at the same time as your competitors, and you may find some nasty surprises.

Falling behind your competitors’ preparations?

Your competitors will be preparing their own capture strategies to unseat you from the contract. They will be talking to the customer and putting their own teams and solutions together. As the incumbent you should have a lot of advantages in preparing for the rebid. But too many incumbents don’t use this time effectively. They don’t create their own rebid strategy or, as we will call it their recapture plan and so go into the rebid less prepared than they should be – and suffer because of it.

Too late to really understand what the customer wants in the next contract?

Bids tend to be won by the company that has the best relationship with the customer; understands the customer’s needs better than the competition (the customer’s real long term and strategic needs as well as those expressed directly in the procurement documentation); and can show their solution, including their price, meets these needs best. Gaining this information and translating it into a solution, price and written bid takes time and effort. It also usually needs a new look at the customer and contract using people outside the day to day contract team – people who will take an objective view and will ‘get to know the customer all over again’. This is usually people from the bid or sales team. Bringing these people into the rebid preparation effort early is an essential part of an effective rebid.

Depending on how your contract has been run up to this point you may have an easier or more difficult task during your rebid preparations – if your contract has been run well and you have a good relationship with your customer it will be easier. If things have not gone well and / or you haven’t established strong relationships with the right people in your customer’s organisation it will be harder (though not impossible) to properly prepare.

But however well or badly your contract has gone, and whatever you believe your relationships are like with the customer, if you fail to invest real time and effort in the months prior to your ‘official’ rebid starting, you WILL have done damage to your chances of winning.

See how we can help you get the best possible start to your rebid preparations here