Workplace: Bids

Bids are a requirement in private, public, government and non-profit workplaces. Open bids. Invitation bids. Requests for proposals. Requests for quotes. And there are other names by which a bid process goes.

Some bids are as simple as an email response with a one-page proposal. Other bids require dozens of submission pages, staff bios, checklist completions, compliance indicators, and more.

Some government and non-profit organizations conduct a two-step submission process. First step: tell us your capacities. If we ask for more from you, second step is to provide a financial quote for the scope of outlined work.  This two-step process seems to lengthen the selection process and slow the start/completion of the work. Whatever the reasoning for the two-step bid process, it is the only way to participate.

Scope of work in bid requests is sometimes clear and detailed. Other times, the scope is not clear and emailed questions are accepted. Some organizations hold bid meetings to answer questions with all interested parties in attendance. Be sure to attend these bid meetings so that your bid is on track with others.

Small business set asides are sometimes indicated in bid announcements. And yet the bids sometimes require the workload of a major corporation to complete. Determine which requests for bids are best for your organization to respond to and which are better to not submit information. Know that sometimes you’ll be submitting bids that colleagues are submitting for; that you might be submitting against an entity already doing work for the requestor; that your bids may go up against low-price bids which are loss-leaders for the submitting company; or that your bid may be up against entities of all sizes and capacities.

When considering a bid response, ask these questions:

  • Do we have the capacity?
  • Will we make enough money to make this worthwhile?
  • Will changes occur? And if they do, will we be able to submit a change order that will get approved so that we get properly paid?
  • What is the best scope of work description?
  • Will we need sub-contractors to fulfill the work?
  • And the dozens of other bid specific questions that need to be asked before you respond.

To bid, or not to bid, that is your question.

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