Statue of Sherlock Holmes, London - The Sherlock Holmes Museum

Evidence, my dear Watson!

Evidence is king when Governments award contracts to the private sector. Evidence validates solutions. Evidence alleviates risk. Evidence strengthens arguments. I remember a conversation over coffee with a friend and supplier who was telling me about how they’d just completed an office fit-out for a large retailer in the city. The job had been one of her largest in both revenue and duration. It was a big deal and if they nailed it would likely mean more fit-outs for the large chain, and certain growth for her small business. The job went flawlessly, on time and within budget. The client was glowing in their praise as it turned out this fit-out was their fist to come in under budget. The CEO even rang my friend and personally thanked her for such quality work at a very fair price.

After congratulating my friend on such a big win, I asked if she’d planned on doing anything meaningful with such shining praise from the CEO of this large chain.  She nodded and proceeded to outline their strategy to work their way into other areas of the chain to procure more jobs – there were many other areas and departments that they could serve in one way or another, and now they had a good story to tell it should be infinitely easier.

Such a strategy certainly makes sense and will likely see my friend win some more gigs from this retail giant. However, I couldn’t help thinking this was only one of many ways to leverage such a great story. Here was an opportunity to give my friend’s business a real advantage over her competitors when bidding for future business in the private sector, but it could also prove to be a silver bullet when trying to win government contracts in future.

When awarding government contracts, you can make all the claims you want: how your service is the greatest and will drive customer engagement to unheard-of levels; how you can lower staff turnover and reduce oped costs; how you’ll ensure government projects can be kept on strict timeframes; whatever.  However, unless you can provide real evidence to back up your statements, your claims are unsubstantiated and really mean nothing to government procurement teams and selection committees.

Christopher Hitchens sums it up beautifully with this quote: “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”. So you’ve got something which is going to benefit Government for a piece of work?  It will hold little to no real value unless you can provide supporting evidence to back your claims.

I always advise SMBs to document any wins that could act as supporting evidence when bidding for future work. You’re a caterer and you just cooked up a feast for 5,000 festival-revellers at Byron Bay and the feedback was exemplary? Put together a small case study documenting how and why everything went so perfectly. You’re a window cleaner and you just made a 10-story building shine in record time saving the Body Corporate thousands?  Ask for some references which are perfect as supporting evidence and third-party validation. You just never know when one of your documented ‘wins’ could mean the difference between winning a lucrative government contract or being left standing at the alter yet again.

Evidence is Gold.  Always be on the lookout and be sure to record your successes while they’re fresh.