Hard sell marketing isn’t our style, but with two large CCS recruitment frameworks on the horizon we’re hearing stories from clients and prospects alike about bid writing companies using aggresive marketing and scaremongering tactics to try to sign them up to five figure fees for providing outsourced tender writing support/services.
So, I thought it might be worth providing some free advice about how the CCS works and the things you might want to look out for when selecting a bid writer for these recruitment frameworks. We know this because we have been engaging with the CCS’s Category Managers face-to-face for over 15 years and meet with them regularly to ensure we are as well prepared as possible to help you with these two significant bids.
Understanding the CCS
The first thing to understand is that the CCS (and indeed any other public-sector procurement organisation) is subject to European procurement legislation, and as such it must behave in an open and fair manner.
Providing any prospective supplier (or indeed bid writer) with information that could be construed as giving an unfair advantage will potentially lead to a challenge at some point during the bid process….and trust me – this is something that all procurement organisations avoid like the plague!
So, make sure you obtain all the information that is freely available in the public domain. The CCS has undertaken stakeholder engagement and from these sessions has documented information on how they are going to progress with the bid process (e.g. timescales, phasing, “lotting” structure, commercial objectives etc). This information is available for EVERYONE on the following links:
- CCS Permanent Recruitment Framework (scroll down to the bottom and check out the links to the PIN, webinar slides dated 1st March 2018 and the “permanent recruitment 2 pager” which will give you all available information).
- CCS Supply Teachers Framework (scroll down to the bottom of the page and check out the PIN and the attached documents, particularly the Supply Teachers FAQ). There has also been a further update which doesn’t appear to be on their website, but which we would be happy to chat to you about).
What preparation can I do in advance?
So, here’s the reality – nobody knows exactly what the format or content of the tender documents will be until they are published as this would provide demonstrable grounds for a challenge.
As tender writers who have won places on all the previous CCS recruitment framework (and OGC, Buying Solutions and PaSA for those who have been in recruitment a while), we’ve got a pretty good idea about what is likely to come up, but the reality is that there is limited preparation that you can do in advance without running the risk of wasting time. You will have 4 to 5 weeks to complete your tender and this is PLENTY of time to write a well-researched and customised bid. We find that the average public-sector recruitment framework takes between 4 and 8 days to write depending on complexity, so don’t panic and just work through it methodically!
Here is some useful information based on previous CCS recruitment frameworks:
- The public sector now uses a standard SQ (Selection Questionnaire). The majority of this document is standard, so you can do some preparation around this. The CCS may include this as the first stage of their tender process and for your bid to be considered, you must meet all the requirements of the SQ. Please note that in the past they have included a section relating to previous supply to ensure that you have the necessary capacity and track record of providing similar services. Click HERE to find out exactly what is covered in an SQ and what you can do to prepare.
- The CCS usually has a section called the Award Questionnaire. This is where they will delve into HOW you are going to deliver the services. This is likely to include questions relating to delivery models, compliance, monitoring performance, managing the framework, technology requirements etc. This qualitative section will have a clear scoring structure and weighting.
- There will then be the Pricing Schedule. Again, this will have a detailed description of how your pricing will be scored so you can be clear about which elements carry the most marks.
- Other documents for completion are likely to include declarations, annexes and appendices.
How can I ensure this is a worthwhile framework for my business?
As soon as the tender is published, your bid writer should be immersing themselves in the documents. A good supplier will be willing to have a free, no obligation discussion around the scope, bid criteria, requirements and conditions to help you establish if you qualify what your likelihood of winning is. This will enable you to make an informed bid/no bid decision.
How can I ensure my bid will score better than my competitors?
Whilst some elements of the bid will simply be process related, many others will require you to showcase your competence, capability, capacity and experience to score maximum points. Make sure your bid writer takes time to get under the skin of your business so that they can really demonstrate how you will add tangible value. This will make the difference between an average bid and a winning bid! If you want to prepare in advance it is always good practice to update case studies with current facts/figures, added value, savings, initiatives etc and of course confirm the details of the referees you plan to use.
How can I avoid a conflict of interests if my bid writer is also working for competitors?
There are some bid writers who will create a standard response to each question and then simply resell these responses to anyone who will pay for them! Check who will be writing your bid and ask them to confirm in writing that they will not be working on the same lots for direct competitors. You want to shine, and this won’t happen if your responses are identical to everyone else’s.
What experience should my tender writer have?
Well, extensive experience in public sector tender writing is of course a pre-requisite, but I would recommend selecting someone who also has a demonstrable track record in the recruitment sector too.
Many bid writers are “generic” and will write tenders across multiple categories. Some of these businesses have category experts who know their sector inside out, and for me this is critical selection criterion. If your bid writer doesn’t understand employment law, compliance and recruitment best practice, they will be unable to produce anything other than a very standard response. Recruitment sector experience will make a crucial difference to the quality (and therefore scoring) of your bid.
Brunton Bid Writing
We’re niche specialists in bid writing for the recruitment sector – we literally don’t do anything else. What’s more, we’re the only supplier working actively with APSCo, TEAM and ARC and we’ve been doing it for 13 years so there’s not much we haven’t seen before.
If you would like a no obligation chat about the forthcoming CCS recruitment frameworks, why not call Fiona Brunton on 01688 400319 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.