Author: Sophie Kessler, DCWC National Proposal Coordinator
Even at the best of times, setting your business up to win the right work and understanding your client dynamics is challenging. The added complexity of COVID-19 has brought a number of new considerations to the procurement process that engineering services professionals must now grapple with. On the other hand, restrictions have shone the light on pre-existing shortcomings forcing professionals to address where their efforts should have been focused.
COVID-19 is humbling in that we are constantly reminded of the synonymy between uncertainty and business. It reiterates to the industry, we need to plan with foresight and be innovative in all circumstances so that we’re not caught off guard. It’s an inherent requirement of our profession to be agile in planning the successful delivery of our clients’ endeavours, right from the start. Given the situation we’re facing, we have to package our bids up more judiciously than ever, not only to win work, but to provide assurance to the industry so that the pipeline stays full of opportunity.
To succeed in the current environment it’s time to rethink how we are packaging up proposals. As industry consultants, DCWC gives you our 5 top tips:
Be creative about how you build your relationships. Information is still king, so how do we position ourselves to understand our clients’ needs before the probity shutters close? In the COVID-19 landscape non-traditional BD strategies are paramount to developing your relationships. Think introducing your clients into live demonstrations of your expertise in action over collaborative software, build up your LinkedIn presence to benefit from social selling, develop initiatives to support your business partners through the crisis.
Provide assurance to clients while projects are on hold. With industry uncertainty leading to increased project holds, we need to not only stay on top of these changes but extend our assurances to clients during these delays. We have a duty to keep industry momentum by displaying how we can offer security to our clients to proceed with planned projects.
Understand your clients’ changing priorities. First and foremost, don’t assume you know your clients’ needs. There is a propensity for our industry to conclude fee is the number one evaluative criteria in times of economic instability. Whilst a competitive fee is critical, your agility as a business has never been more vital. Now is the time to offer something arguably as valuable as a low price: stability. Showcase your understudies (your back up personnel), the multidisciplinary and integrated facets of your business, verify why you are antifragile. Don’t just offer a Plan A, show your client you have a Plan B and C and how the structure of your business facilitates it. And most importantly, talk to your client well in advance and find out what else they are after!
Emphasise your risk absorption capabilities. Be extra diligent in outlining your risk management systems and make sure you include actual evidence of your relevant financial capability including statements, insurances and quality assurance documents. Give your client the additional security they require.
Protect your business from the start. Don’t fall into the trap of shooting yourself in the foot during the procurement process in a desperate bid to win work. Take the time to be prudent in ensuring what you’re agreeing to incorporates fair clauses on key areas such as force majeure, EOTs and changes in law. Ensure you are not overpromising and are careful in the time frames, labour availability, programmes and delivery models you are proposing.
DCWC believes challenges leveraged as opportunities are the building blocks to a better future. COVID-19 can be seen as a learning, where we have pulled together with foresight and creativity to not only manage the current crisis but build stronger forts assembled to withstand even greater storms.