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The Coach: ‘Should we employ someone solely to compile bids?’

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Should a practice hire someone to take care of bidding for business or can existing employees do the job in their slack time? Matthew Turner gives his opinion

The staff member in our practice who deals with bid compilation is leaving, so we are reconsidering how we resource this. My other partners are adamant that employing a person devoted solely to this aspect of the business is a costly ‘overhead’, and we can use architects already on the books in their slack time. I think this is a really bad idea if we are to seriously keep the workflow coming.  What do you think?  

Matthew turner

Matthew turner

It’s worth bearing in mind that sometimes the roles that seem tangential are actually key to an effective and growing practice. 

Whether your workflow is sourced through formal bids or informal networks, without being able to promote with convincing submissions, the development of the practice is self-limited. 

I read a lot of bids, and there is quite a knack to communicating in an authentic way that is tailored but repeatable, and that takes some skill and effort to nurture. The bids that shine through are intelligently put together to be both skimmable and readable in detail, and don’t just focus on the visuals and the end-result. 

There is quite a knack to communicating in an authentic way – and that takes some skill and effort to nurture

This isn’t about people’s job descriptions, but their skills. The architects in your practice may well be capable of this aspect of the work, and this is something you need to assess alongside their interest in doing this work. 

The person who can effectively take on this work needs to be able to take feedback. If they have a tin ear to the project risks and opportunities from a client’s point of view and without excellent written English skills this will cost you dearly. 

Someone who possesses such skills will make this kind of ‘overhead’ almost the most important part of the team.

AJ coach Matthew Turner is an architect and careers consultant who runs the Building on Architecture consultancy. Email him in confidence at hello@buildingonarchitecture.com

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