Managing the stress of bid deadlines

Bid and tender management is deadline-driven, and can involve a lot of work and many stakeholders – and there’s often not much time to get everything done before the opportunity closes. For a bid to even reach minimum compliance requirements, there’s a lot of non-negotiables; many a bid manager has found themselves staying up late night after late night finalising a bid, and even pressing ‘submit’ ten minutes before deadline. Or worst of all, not having all the information you need at hand at the time when you submit, getting your bid rejected at the outset after all your hard work. That’s not a professional look for your or your company/client.

That sense of panic is commonplace among early-career bid managers, and you may be wondering if there’s some better way to handle this. And yes, there is – putting habits and systems in place for ongoing progress, so you can identify risks and issues before they blindside you. Especially if you’ve come to bid management from a marketing/communications background, you may see yourself as more of the ‘creative’ type and not consider yourself ‘organised’ – all the more reason to put structures in place to keep that balance.

Making progress, a day at a time

The bid management gurus at APMP (Association of Proposal Management Professionals) have some wonderful advice on the time and project management aspects of bid management. APMP recommends taking a day-to-day management approach involving daily check-ins to identify issues and risk, assign and follow up on actions, updating the team on any changes to customer initiatives, bid budgets and so on.

You may or may not be working as part of a dedicated ‘proposal team’, but there will be many stakeholders who will have distinct pieces of information that you’ll need to move forward with a proposal. It’s very easy to send an email, mentally tick it off your to-do list, and not realise until too late that you didn’t get a reply. If a stakeholder isn’t getting you the information you need, that’s part of your daily check-ins – what’s still outstanding, how long has it been outstanding, etc. 

As the proposal manager, you own the proposal document. That means you need to have all necessarily information ready in a timely fashion, including escalating where necessary – if your colleague doesn’t produce the information you need after many requests, you can’t just flail your hands; and if the relevant management haven’t been kept informed and given the chance to intervene, then you’re still quite likely to be held responsible. By ensuring processes are in place for when something is going wrong, you can avoid a lot more stress later.

Prepared is empowered

The bid management process doesn’t have to start the day the RFP/RFQ opens – and in fact, there’s a lot you can do to be ready to hit the ground running. If you’re working for a large company, you may have an opportunity/capture planning team; if not, this may form part of your work as proposal manager. Your opportunity/capture plan will identify actions and strategic to position your company as the customer’s preferred bidder, and will generally include customer and competitive information, analysis, strategies and actions.

Starting the process before the RFP/RFQ can involve keeping an eye on Early Tender Advice notifications and having a close relationship with your business development team so you can understand where your competitive advantage lies.

Knowledge management

By utilising boilerplate text and adapting it to your proposal, you can save an enormous amount of time and effort compared to writing from scratch. Do you have project team bios and CVs ready-to-go? Have there been similar bids in the past that you can extract information from? Do you have relationships with relevant subject matter experts? Is the information you need stored in an easy-to-navigate central location, or scattered around in various email inboxes? Organising your data now means less scrambling later.

Look after yourself

Proposal management can be high-pressure work, with a lot of juggling involved; being able to manage that pressure in a healthy way can help you avoid stress and burn-out, ensuring you’re able to do your best work in the long-term. Planning and preparing effectively is important, but so is being realistic about your limitations, asking for help when you need it, and setting boundaries – the occasional 12-hour day will happen when you’re managing a bid, but it shouldn’t be the norm. Putting on your own mask first means you can do great work, and that’s a win-win for everyone.

Looking for support with developing a proposal, or want to leave it in the hands of Perth’s proposal management experts? Get in touch with ProposalPro and benefit from our team’s cumulative decades of knowledge, wide-ranging expert skills, and our ability to get your tender to a preferred-bidder status.

Learn more about Bids and Tenders >>


Your executive summary is the most important part of your bid. But are you getting it right?

Experts agree that executive summaries are the most important part of your bid. They’re the most widely read, and offer you a opportunity to showcase your unique value proposition; convince the tender evaluator(s) to recommend you; and make it easier for them to justify that decision.
And yet, so many executive summaries are haphazardly thrown together at the end of a bidding process.
Here’s how to do better, avoid common preventable mistakes, and write an executive summary that gets results.

Read more ›

Top 5 Tips for Better Tendering

Tendering (when done well) is a cornerstone of business growth; it’s not something that should be taken lightly. Learn how to reduce tendering headaches with ProposalPro!

Read more ›
Working with weighted criteria | ProposalPro

Working with weighted criteria

Business owners often express confusion about working with average weighted criteria – it’s not a framework that you’ll come across too often outside of tendering. But it can tell you a surprising amount about what’s important to the buyer, how to read between the lines and structure your tender response to maximise your chances of success, and even whether it’s worth putting together a bid in the first place…

Read more ›