Contract Finder Pro’s Sandy Boxall explains why we need to industrialise the bid process for the construction industry
I’ll never forget the sight of dormant cranes adorning the skylines of city centres across the UK during the first national lockdown. Talk about an apt metaphor.
As the country closed down so, too, did construction sites and only after new operating procedures were rolled out, and disruption costing billions of pounds, did they re-open. Even though the industry was able to largely stay open for business during the second and third lockdowns, there’s no doubt that these events have proved a real shock to the system, driving both short and long term change.
It’s also showcased the construction industry’s ability to pivot and rapidly implement innovative change. Of course, no sector of the economy or society has been untouched by the pandemic. However, it strikes me that firing up my laptop from home is one thing, safely deploying new operating procedures, including social distancing protocols and enhanced hygiene processes on building sites, is quite another.
Nonetheless, despite these challenges, organisations have persevered and found ways to deliver projects safely.
The good news is that better times are fast materialising on the horizon. While the pandemic’s economic consequences continue to play out, public sector opportunities have thankfully remained plentiful, with over 1,500 of open tenders and worth more than £928 billion issued by the UK and Republic of Ireland governments within the last 12 months alone.
Of course, such opportunities vary in size from the smallest to the largest, but competition is fierce – if anything fiercer than before Covid and likely to remain so as the recession reduces commercial construction opportunities. While who you know is still important in any procurement, the process is becoming ever more digital, with more tenders moving online and industry open days and other one-to-one interactions becoming an ever more digital experience.
The sheer scale of this conversion to all things digital means that now, more than ever, businesses need to industrialise their business winning processes. This will enable them to reap digital dividends, such as using technology to streamline procedures and increase their own efficiency, and in the process save their precious time to do the things that cannot be streamlined – such as the human interaction that can often secure the golden nugget of information that secures the win.
An online treasure trove of information is now available, on both the market and on new opportunities that organisations would wish to bid for. Using data feeds, market trackers (like my very own Contract Finder Pro, for example) and integrating both outsourced (like bid writers and legal teams) and insourced components and services, the business winning process can become increasingly automated and slick. With a bit of thought and some changes to business winning processes, big improvements to efficiency can be made.
Since there is never quite enough time to write a bid, those organisations that can automate the process most effectively and take advantage of the digital opportunity at hand will be more competitive than those that don’t. Their reward will be larger market shares and the promise of even more competitive advantage still to come. The future really is digital.