Apprentices experience bid process in a virtual world
During the recent lockdowns, organisations have turned to virtual meeting systems to help keep their operations running. For many, this has meant heavy use of Microsoft Teams, Zoom or other such conferencing software. As a seasoned training provider, we are used to adapting at a moment’s notice to the space between government guidelines and the changing needs of industry (it’s what we do best). So, the recent restrictions on face-to-face delivery was the perfect opportunity for us to teach our learners the importance of resilience!
Our ability to view adversity as an opportunity has led to us engaging with our learners in more exciting ways and on the Bid & Proposal Coordinator apprenticeship programme, we ran a pilot using virtual innovative delivery.
It included all the usual things you would expect in a high-quality JGA training programme but with a virtual twist!
The Bid Room Module
For the final module of the Bid & Proposal Coordinator apprenticeship, we wanted to give the learners the opportunity to experience the typical challenges and opportunities found in a bid room, but in a controlled environment. To achieve this, we devised a role play scenario-based module that simulated the bid preparation and submission process.
Apprentices were provided with real tender documents for a product in an industry in which they had no experience. Third-party attendees took roles as buyers, reviewers and subject matter experts. The module took place over three days (plus work in between). The apprentices worked in teams, with assigned roles and set out to research, write, submit and win the tender against stiff competition!
The activity embodies all of the challenges, learning and lessons we know bid writers/managers experience during tendering and day-to-day work activities. It was not just a check that our apprentices know how to undertake bid operations but it was also an opportunity for them to demonstrate a great deal of concentration, accuracy, perseverance, stress management and most of all, team working.
As it was not possible to meet in person, we used cutting edge technology to enable the bid practical exercise to take place by holding it in the secure JGA campus in virtual world, VirBELA.
Both apprentices and the supporting team loved it, they found the functionality of Zoom but with greater user control and no staring at yourself on screen all day! It enabled even the most camera–shy learners to come out of themselves and play an active role in the project.
The virtual campus has dedicated briefing rooms, private and common spaces and even a party area for the end of project celebration!
Allocate roles, Issue the ITT, Create capture plan, Bid / No Bid decision, Create exec summary, Kick-off meeting
Daily stand-up meeting, Write and submit CQs raised, Draft responses, Get input from SMEs, Deal with responses to CQs, Create a draft for review
Daily stand-up meeting, Edit responses, Quick second review, Prepare for submission, Upload to portal, Deadline for delivery
Post-delivery lessons learnt, Outcome/Feedback from Customer, Reflect on buyer feedback
Our learners agreed that this was a great exercise to consolidate what they had learnt on the other modules.
Ryan Wilkes, apprentice at Kuehne+Nagel, said
“Meeting new people, working in great teams, and creating compelling & compliant proposals for our customers are part of the reason why I enjoy working in the world of bid management. The 3 days completing my final apprenticeship assessment in a virtual working environment, VirBELA, have been part of some of the most stressful, yet rewarding days of my career.”
Jodie Boast, apprentice at Eric Wright Construction, said
“WON THE VIRTUAL BID! Great ‘virtual reality’ module in line with my Bid and Proposal Coordinator Apprenticeship with JGA. A hard-working, testing and stressful few days but thoroughly enjoyed putting together a bid and all worth it for the result in the end! Group Effort!”
Gemma Waring, JGA Tutor, said
“Having watched a tender being created today I can honestly say I felt the energy and buzz you get in a team when the pressure is on to get a first draft ready – the extra fluidity of walking between rooms and having multiple rooms to work in are as close as you can get to real life with current restrictions!”
Healthy Teams Make for Healthy Competition
We are working with bodies such as the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) to help establish bid coordination, writing and management as a recognised profession with a well-defined career path. We aim to raise the profile of our apprentices – all are aspiring professionals, and to support them to achieve relevant and career-changing qualifications.
We find that healthy competition, combined with the right support, brings out the best in people, it tends to provide the right environment to push, stretch and challenge learners’ interests, attitudes, and motivations.
Our Bid and Proposal Apprenticeship
Our apprentices work for well-known organisations across B2B and B2G sectors. Construction, logistics, outsourcing, engineering, education and charities and other organisations from all over the country are all well represented within this popular programme – the first of its kind.
Apprentices attend monthly full-day workshops (delivered virtually) to achieve the skills, behaviours and knowledge set out by the APMP and a trailblazer group of bid specialists for the Bid & Proposal Coordinator job-role. They receive one to one coaching from experts who actively live and breathe bidding and access high-quality resources in a pathway purpose-designed for the programme.
Finally, apprentices can join the APMP at a special low rate and develop their networks and additional CPD. At the end of the programme, apprentices undertake an assessment by an independent third party. JGA has an enviable record to protect, last year almost half of our learners taking apprenticeship end-point assessment achieved distinction.