5 Tips for Effective Tender Reviews
By Zoe Simpson, APMP.
At a glance, tender reviews and film reviews appear to have a lot in common. They both cast a critical eye over a project which is often months, sometimes years in the making – and they can make or break a project before it’s even seen by its wider audience. Both also have the potential to make writers cry into their keyboards!
However, what makes a great tender reviewer is the ability to remember that being a critic is only part of their job. While the role of a film reviewer is to advise whether a movie is worth spending your money on, the job of a tender reviewer is to work with the bidding team to enhance their submission.
In essence, the difference between the two is constructive criticism. With that in mind, here are five tips to help you make your next tender review as effective as possible.
1. Know the story
While a film reviewer can go into the cinema without any notion of what they’re about to see, it’s a poor tender reviewer who looks over a bid document without any clue about what it should contain. A good internal bid reviewer needs to be across as many aspects of the bid as possible – the client and their pain points, the win themes and the overall strategy are all crucial elements to know before diving in.
2. Remain on-point
A standard three act film plot has a beginning, middle and end. But while a film may have an unexpected twist in the middle to keep it interesting, a good bid should rest on a small number of consistent key win themes. And they need to shine through. If you find the bid is not resonating, or is wandering or falling flat in the middle, go back to your win themes to make sure you’re on target.
3. Provide positive feedback
It’s incumbent on bid reviewers to provide positive feedback as well as criticism. Reviewers should be able to clearly articulate the key points which are working. Not only does this identify what should be enhanced through the editing process, it also helps bidding teams understand why any suggested changes are important.
Highlight the sections that are well written and have sound messaging and, if need be, use them to create a ‘compliment sandwich’ when describing an issue. For example, ‘I love how you described the solution, however I think you should elaborate this next section a bit more. I also thought you explained the benefits really well.’ This is particularly helpful when providing feedback for tired writers whose motivation may be flagging.
4. Answer the question
One of the most important tasks for a tender reviewer is to ensure that a response actually answers the question! It can be easy for writers to get so focused on their own solution that they forget about the client. The client needs to be at the very centre of your bid and if evaluators see that a question isn’t addressed or is being evaded, it will be a guaranteed mark against your bid.
Yes, it’s important to keep an eye out for inconsistencies, structural problems and abrupt changes in tone or messaging. It’s also important to ensure differentiation from competitors and that the whole bid makes sense. After all, if it doesn’t make sense to you as a reviewer, then it probably won’t make sense to an evaluator.
But all that will be in vain if you don’t actually answer the question.
5. Offer solutions
Film reviewers are fantastic at identifying problems, but they very rarely offer constructive feedback on how to fix them. What’s the point when the film is already ‘in the can’? A bid reviewer is in the lucky position of being able to see the bid and offer suggestions for improvement – before it’s submitted. Offering constructive feedback rather than straight negativity can improve both the tender submission and employee relations.
So, when highlighting an area for improvement, always offer a solution. This could be as simple as restructuring a sentence using track changes, or as complex as drafting a flow diagram to explain an important process.
Same same, but different
Yes, there are many similarities between film and tender reviewers. Both make judgements about other people’s work, in many cases using somewhat similar criteria. But where a film reviewer’s role stops there, a bid reviewer’s role has a much greater impact on the final product.
Or put another way: one provides criticism from the peanut gallery after the fact, the other mucks in with the creative team to elevate their work as it’s being created.
I know which one I’d rather be.