Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book review - Harold Lewis "Bids, Tenders & Proposals, Winning Business Through Best Practice"

Harold Lewis is something of an authority on proposal development - authority that has come from over 30 years experience writing winning proposals in a cross-section of public and private business sectors as well as writing books like this one.

Bids, Tenders & Proposals, Winning Business Through Best Practice is a structured guide to the anatomy not just of the proposal, but how to develop you proposal strategy and people. What I love about this book is that it's a clear "how to" guide to almost all the different elements of your proposal...and some of the problems that you will have during your proposal development.

The book covers every aspect of bid preparation and it's easy to find the information you need with a very modular and direct table of contents. Each chapter provides detailed yet practical information, covering the following topics:
  • A bid to succeed
  • Bidding for public sector contracts
  • Tendering for the private sector
  • Bidding for research funding
  • Pre-qualifying for tender opportunities
  • Deciding to bid
  • Analysing the bid specification
  • Managing the bid
  • Talking to the client
  • Bidding in partnership
  • Thinking the work through
  • Developing and writing the bid
  • Explaining approach and methodology
  • Focusing on contract management
  • Defining outputs and deliverables
  • Communicating added value
  • Presenting CVs
  • Describing professional experience
  • Making good use of graphics
  • Stating your price
  • Producing and submitting the bid
  • Understanding how clients evaluate tenders
  • Presentations to clients
  • Doing your own tender auditing
  • Ten true stories
You can see that just from the table of contents that this book is comprehensive. I know from visitors to Learn to Write Proposals that many people involved with proposal writing are interested in not only writing business proposals but also getting public sector money for various new opportunity funding - it's good to see a section dedicated to this area where a comprehensive and detailed proposal is required.

If there is any negative comment about the book, it's that it could be more visual. One of the things that the Shipley Proposal Guide does well is include a lot of graphics - and though proposals are written by wordsmiths (I hope) and we may have a reading/writing learning style (if you believe that kind of thing!) - it's good practice for proposal writers to develop visual representations of ideas as we know that they help to rapidly transmit ideas and aid retension.

That said, Lewis includes a lot of useful examples in tables and worksheets - though it might be nice if these had a downloadable version from the web (though why not just get all the Learn to Write Proposals tools with a membership?).

To me this volume is a great complement to Tom Sant's Persuasive Business Proposals which looks at the use of language and persuasion in your proposal, whereas this book gives you more of the nuts and bolts of how to put it all together. I'd recommend that any aspiring or current bid writer has a copy of this on their bookshelf.

Buy it now from Amazon - Bids Tenders and Proposals: Winning Business Through Best Practice

Buy it now from Amazon - Persuasive Business Proposals: Writing to Win More Customers, Clients and Contracts