Currently, I am part of a bid that contains five Joint Venture partners and over twenty subcontractors. The project combines teams from across South Africa and China and over fifty people to engage with. The aspect of cultural impact when working in a bid team is, therefore, top of mind.
Success depends on navigating the South African and Chinese cultural differences within the sub-cultures of each organisation. Educating our foreign partners on working in South Africa and understanding our procurement and bid processes is necessary.
Managing a team this size is easier said than done. I have had to consider:
- Technology access restrictions in each country
- Language and cultural barriers
- Additional time required for translation services (meetings and content)
- Time zone restrictions for meetings and deadlines
- Political happenings, influences and impact
- Regulatory, legal and procurement considerations
- Impact of Covid-19 on travel as well as work/life balance
Using a documented and structured bid process is non-negotiable but needs to allow room for flexibility. It helps to have a core team including an intermediary who understands both cultures and sets up smaller group sessions for updates.
A central data room and breaking the project into financial, technical, and commercial segments also make the process easier.
Making sure the team is on the same page is essential. Communication beyond virtual meetings and putting crucial aspects in writing is critical.
Getting all the content in English and making it into a cohesive story for the customer is vital. To achieve this, we prepare a strategy template with a content plan. Guiding the team to use one template makes it easier to consolidate into ‘one voice’.
No matter how diverse the bid team is, winning is possible when you work towards a common goal.
We might have our differences, but we are one people with a common destiny in our rich variety of culture, race and tradition.”
– Nelson Mandela