In the professional services sector, Business Development Managers have long been expected to balance the many expectations of managing client acquisition strategies, client relationship marketing and pursuit management, including leading the tender function.
More recently, business development teams have begun restructure, with the hiring of dedicated bid managers and coordinators in the realisation that tenders and bids are so time consuming that the removal of core business development personnel from their day to day operations places the business at risk of ignoring one business opportunity for another.
Such is the interest in this burgeoning field that a search under “Tender and Bid” in LinkedIn returns tens of thousands of results. The majority of personnel come from the UK, followed by Australia, India and Canada. There are more than 4,000+ members of the LinkedIn Tender and Bid Professionals group.
When I was visiting the US recently I attended an Executive Education program and discovered that there are some markets internationally that do not have a tender industry (Nigeria), and others are only just emerging. However, it is a discipline that is now accepted as worldwide practice and very much mature by way of ‘best practice’ processes and methodologies in the UK, Europe and Australia.
In Australia there is also an emerging and growing “consultancy” industry – freelancers, sole traders and boutique operators made up of former procurement professionals or business development executives. These niche service providers deliver consultancy and advisory services to organisations that are under-resourced or less experienced that are vying for a share of the procurement spend.
Tenders, bids and proposals – interchangeable in many markets, more popular in some
The terminology between countries is vastly different though in many the terms mean much the same. In India the term “tender” is commonplace whereas in the US, the term “proposal” or “RFI” (Request for Information) is the norm. In the UK, tenders and bids are used interchangeably and Australia has shifted its industry terminology from tenders to bids and proposals – possibly to reflect global structures and restructuring in recent times.
While in many professional services markets tenders and bid responses remain the responsibility of the fee earner, since the mid 2000s it has become growing practice to establish business development departments comprised of marketing / bid coordinators and managers who act as custodians of the process as part of their broader responsibilities.
In other industries, bids and competitive tender management is increasingly shifting from the marketing and estimating department to the executive level and boardroom. Many companies, however, are struggling to take advantage of these changes, including understanding the bid management process and associated risks, and the challenges or opportunities that can shape organisational performance, growth and culture.
Does this interest you? Read more about the difference between bids, tenders and proposals