One of the first things you must do when beginning a bid is identify where the information you need will come from. This can be company policies and procedures, historic bid submissions or your own personal knowledge and experience. More often than not though, the information you need is with the subject expert.
Subject experts can be the most helpful people throughout the entire programme. In our experience it is best to establish a relationship with a subject expert early on. Learn their preferred method of communication. Do they prefer face to face chats, email, phone calls or a mix of the above depending on their schedule? Try to remember that they are busy people with their own jobs to do and that while your bid is important to you, it may be just another difficult thing to fit in for them. Politeness, listening and a willingness to accommodate the needs of the person you are dealing with goes a long way.
Also understand that subject experts are often not writers and they may not understand exactly what it is you want from them. You need to be patient when working with them and not expect everything you need to necessarily come through in one sitting. Be prepared to begin with a high level overview of their role before getting into the specifics. Start with the who, what, where, when, how and why and build from that. If you know exactly what it is you need to find out consider using a template and asking them to fill it in for you. Be specific. But most importantly, when you do get responses and replies don’t be afraid to ask the stupid questions. No one expects you to know everything and you really shouldn’t pretend you do when you don’t. We stress collaboration a lot at BPM, and the relationship between the bid team and the subject experts is one of the most important collaborative elements there is. If you’re friendly, helpful and considerate, more often than not they reciprocate, and your role will be much easier.