We recently helped a client prepare a complex proposal to a NZ government department – with the end result weighing in at a whopping 130 kg and 1500 pages. Plan A's involvement spanned three months, and 11 of our team at various stages. That's some real heavy lifting.

The on-time delivery major tenders is a culmination of years of experience where we have learnt some hard lessons along the way. Here are some of our top tips from the frontline that will help you bypass some of these lessons and help you get a fuss-free tender in the box.

1) Think ahead to the finish line

If printed copies are required, plan ahead to consider the type of binding and how many pages your submission might require. Check your binding type will handle the number of pages – and leave plenty of time to adjust your requirements. Seek expert design advice if needed.

Tabs and dividers need more consideration and planning than you think. These are often printed early on and the slightest change in document structure means you have tabs that don’t match the contents. Keep checking the structure as you go.

And if delivery is in a different city to document production, double-check the minimum courier or travel times. Add in a bit of leeway to avoid the ‘deadline dash’!

2) Get your response template in shape, early on

The larger a proposal becomes – for example, with separate sections being completed by different teams – the greater the amount of time required to keep the response template manageable as the deadline draws closer. Remember that not everyone is an expert in Word template or styles manipulation, so again, calling in the experts is a good idea.

3)  Play to people’s strengths

When assigning tasks, match people to their strengths. Don’t assume a subject matter expert is a good writer and a senior management team member is the only option for the role of reviewer. Build a team that has a solid mix of skills – pair up the 'blue-sky thinkers' with the 'details' people.

4) Provide your review team with a thorough brief

Reviewers need to know what is expected of them. One reviewer may focus on the high-level strategy while another may get bogged down in grammar. Send them a brief, noting what you want them to review for and provide them with ample time to work through the material. There is little point in having a review if the material has not been read.

5) Have that first review very early on

Make your team plan their response. Request a first cut of the document very early on where each answer is mapped out with a set a bullet points at the very least. This provides the entire team with an excellent picture of the strategy and approach – and most importantly – clear direction that they are on the right track.

6) Take a step back

Yes, the detail is incredibly important, but so is the ability to look at your response from a more strategic perspective. Are all your 'ducks in a row' and your team all 'singing from the same hymn sheet'? Having regular check-ins with key bid contributors and reviewers helps to keep progress on track. Appoint one person to read the bid from start to finish to ensure terminology and messaging is consistent.

These are just some tips that can help make the bidding process easier. It's what the Plan A team does all day, every day, so if you’re wanting certainty of delivery by an experienced, professional team of tendering experts – give us a call on 0800 752 622 or email us at info@planawriters.com. We’d love to help!