Executive compass celebrates 10th anniversary

January 2, 2019

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of Newcastle-based Executive Compass. The business consultancy provides professional bid and tender writing services, helping clients across the UK to secure more contracts. Here, members of the senior management team reflect on how far the business has come, and plans for 2019

Managing director Neil Capstick founded Executive Compass in 2009 after a 15-year career in the rail and civil engineering industry. In the early days, the business focused primarily on PQQ (pre- qualification questionnaires) and tender submissions for smaller SMEs and was run solely by Neil and one other bid writer.

Over the past ten years, the company has expanded and relocated to larger office space three times, settling in Hoults Yard with a team of 14 staff. At the start of 2018, it also launched a Glasgow office and has a strong presence in London for its client base bidding in the south of England. The core services have grown to PQQ and tender documents, bid management, training and consultancy services for companies across the UK and internationally.

The majority of the core team has been with the business for over three years. Sales and marketing director Amy Forshaw reflects: “It is brilliant to see the business grow from strength to strength and I am excited to see what our tenth year in business will bring.”

Bid writing

On average, Executive Compass provides support with approximately 500 bids every year. Some stand-out projects in recent years have included
a bid for a Canadian online gaming platform, supporting one of the top law firms in the North East, a Sellafield nuclear bid, and national Crown Commercial Services contracts. Day-to-day contracts for the team of writers are bids for local authorities, NHS, housing associations and central government, for all industry sectors.

The company has evolved with the public-sector procurement environment over the years, as it has seen the introduction of standardised – and often highly complex – processes, such as the standardised SQ, PAS91 and the ESPD. There has also been a general movement towards the one- stage process and numerous changes to regulations and legislation. While the traditional price-quality relationship (most economically advantageous tender or ‘MEAT’) is still the preferred method of evaluation in the procurement process, buyers are also increasingly focused on wider themes, not least social value.

Accelerated by the Public Services (Social Value) Act coming into force in 2012, social value moves the focus away from traditional ideas of pre-determined objectives against which contractors must deliver, and enables a wider view at the true contribution of projects, contracts and delivery models within communities.

This change in perspective has led to bidders being evaluated accordingly, with buyers looking for a real commitment from their suppliers. Executive Compass continues to learn from the leading authorities on social value across the North East, the UK and globally, and the company is increasingly focusing its attentions on working with clients to reflect on the real value that they add through their operations, and leverage that to their advantage.

Executive Compass provides procurement advice and ideas on how companies can ensure they have the correct ‘bid collateral’ to increase success rates and secure more contracts. It
is a specialised skill to understand the buyer specification and create a high-quality tender response, and one which the team has perfected in its ten years of business.

Company success

Executive Compass is now one of the largest bid writing firms in the UK, with all writers directly employed by the Newcastle-based company.

Neil says: “The company’s success has stemmed from a focus on quality and ensuring that Executive Compass provides a professional, high- quality service for every single bid we are involved in.”

The company experiences 75 per cent repeat business and has built up a large client base over the past ten years – this ranges from large construction and law firms, to national charities and smaller owner-managed businesses. The same focus on quality is at the heart of every project, whether that’s a bid for £2000 funding from the Greggs Foundation or a £6 billion tender for nuclear decommissioning works.

Executive Compass is one of the only bid writing firms to be certified to the UKAS ISO 9001:2015 quality management standard, and this drives the company’s quality assurance process.

Amy explains: “This year, we hired a technical editor, Peter, to manage the quality of all our
bids, which is an extremely important part in our process and we are dedicated to providing the best final product to our clients.”

Corporate social responsibility

While Executive Compass’s focus is on building its business by helping others build theirs, they remain committed to supporting charities, and the team often finds meaningful local causes to which they can contribute their skills and knowledge in the writing field. This year, the team has supported local charity organisations with funding applications for projects such as community radio and leisure programmes. The team also took part in the CEO Sleepout at Newcastle United’s St James’s Park and supported Prostate Cancer UK with a cycle ride from the UK to Prague.

Plans for the ten-year anniversary

The team has some exciting plans in place for its ten-year anniversary, including events, new company videos and charity programmes. It is a great success to be celebrating ten years of business in the North East, and the company works closely with many high-profile clients in the North of England. The team remains excited and proud to support businesses to grow in the region, and nationally, through securing more contracts.

Executive Compass