By Deborah Orr

It’s the week of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Awards! We’re looking forward to attending with our Scotland based team. In the meantime, we have been reflecting on how we cultivate success for our Scottish clients.

When I first met Gordon Wilson, EiB Bid Director and Operations Director for Scotland and Ireland, he captured the highly competitive nature of bidding by saying:

“There’s no second place in bidding. Either you win or you lose.”

I thought of that three-tiered Olympic victory podium – can you picture it? Perhaps you remember standing on one awkwardly after winning a sports day race at school, or have fond memories of your favourite athlete claiming their moment of fame. Well, in the world of bidding there is no second or third place.

When Gordon shared this insight with me, I was at a recruitment day in EiB’s Edinburgh office, interviewing to join EiB’s Scottish work winning team. That was when the penny dropped. I understood why, as someone who has always strived to excel, I was so drawn to bidding. I understood why, as someone who isn’t satisfied until a piece of work is exceptional, EiB was the place for me.

At EiB we don’t help our clients produce strong bids. We help them produce winning bids.

Over a cup of coffee, Gordon and I discussed work winning – his 40 years of operational and bidding experience dwarfing my 40 minutes. Gordon told me some of the ways EiB Scotland cultivates success for our clients and sustains our win rate of over 80%. Three of these stood out to me and captured EiB in a nutshell.

1. We draw on our wealth of market-leading, cross sector best practice

A bit of a mouthful, right? Let me paint a picture for you.

When an EiB writer faces a challenge, such as an unusually niche quality question in the highways sector, they share it on our internal platform. Immediately, dozens of the brightest minds in bidding collaborate by tapping into their pool of experience and resources. Keith explains an approach his team took to a similar question in the energy sector, developed after much strategising. Rebecca shares successful responses in the rail and health sectors on similar topics, highlighting pertinent sections. Poppy offers insight into the commissioning body’s priorities from the recent Highways UK conference, which sheds some light on what they are seeking by asking this niche question.

In a matter of minutes that writer, having drawn on our wealth of market-leading, cross sector best practice, is equipped to effectively produce a winning response. This is a daily occurrence in EiB.

This is possible because, as the UK’s largest fully employed work winning consultancy, we have a 40-strong team with a vast portfolio of specialties spanning dozens of sectors and solutions. In the last twelve months in Scotland alone, we have worked in the rail, renewables, roads, construction and facilities management sectors. By recruiting and retaining exceptional talent and nurturing a collaborative ethos, EiB ensures our clients benefit from not only the individual staff allocated to their project but from the wealth of market-leading, cross sector best practice across our team.

2. We tailor our support to suit our clients’ bidding maturity, capacity and requirements

We flexibly adapt our support to suit clients’ requirements. On one end of the spectrum, some Scottish clients have a mature bidding team and the capacity to produce their own submission. In these situations, clients value Gordon’s constructive challenge where he provides an independent review of their submission towards the end of the tender period. These include quality responses, case studies and CVs. Where requested, he scores submissions against the evaluation criteria, identifying how exactly responses can improve to meet the criteria for top scores. Examples of such bids include:

  • Design contract for £470m A83 Rest and Be Thankful debris shelter (roads sector)
  • CP7 Scotland, with the Geotechnical lot and Civils and Buildings lot (rail sector)
  • Pagabo framework and Scape framework (facilities management and construction sectors).

On the other end of the spectrum, some clients require long-term bidding support from an EiB team. For example, from April to December 2023, three of our Scotland team supported a client to bid for the North Lanarkshire roads maintenance and improvement contract which spans 10-12 years and is worth approximately £360 million. We fully integrated with our client’s team throughout the PQQ and ITT stages of the tender, with Gordon Wilson forming part of their strategic leadership team and Stacey Macdonald and Jemma Ward embedded into their writing team. We worked in our client’s office at the beginning to establish effective working relationships and conduct comprehensive storyboarding.

This month we were commended by another client to whom we provided a Bid Director and two writers, for a renewables bid with a short turnaround time. Our client said:

“It was a pleasure working with EiB once again and I can confidently endorse their service. The team are incredibly professional and very thorough, making sure no opportunities to enhance a bid fall through the cracks.”

3. We stay abreast of industry trends and current affairs, to provide clients with market intelligence and pipeline support

By staying abreast of industry trends, current affairs and upcoming opportunities, we provide clients with valuable market intelligence and pipeline support. For example, I am writing this article at the Macdonald Resort in Aviemore, having just attended an exhibition about the dualling of the A9 in pursuit of updates on the procurement timeline for our clients. Other events we have attended recently include:

  • Road Expo Scotland
  • Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce events such as Better Jobs, Better Skills, Better Pay (co-hosted with Our Scottish Future) and Developing Edinburgh: A Net Zero Future
  • Royal Bank of Scotland business breakfast on the economic outlook for Scotland, reflecting and forecasting on topics such as tax cuts, inflation, and labour shortages by sector.

By keeping up to date with industry trends, innovations and challenges, we are equipped to help clients develop a strong win strategy. For example, when bidding for the £360 million North Lanarkshire roads maintenance contract, we supported our client to develop a compelling solution that addressed the pressing issue of a local labour shortage. We provided similar strategic direction to a client bidding for the lead advisor framework for NHS Health Facilities Scotland, by facilitating solution development workshops in advance of our bid writing support.

Celebrating success with our clients

EiB’s win rate of over 80% means, despite the win-or-lose nature of bidding, most of the time we get to celebrate success with our clients. There’s nothing better than receiving news of a win, and our clients certainly love it too!

If we can help cultivate bidding success for your business, please get in touch, and in the meantime we look forward to an evening of celebrations at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Awards.