Writing effective case studies – Our top three tips

Writing effective case studies

Case studies are one of the most important elements of a tender. It’s your main opportunity to boast about your strengths and capabilities and previous success. Given its importance it is worth taking your time and ensuring that you draft one which is good quality and evidenced-based.

A good case study should demonstrate why you are the ideal company to win the tender.

It should include the following key sections:

1. Client Requirements – What was the main reason the client was looking for your services? ie what problem did they need to solve?

2. Your solution to the client’s requirements – What solution did you propose to the client in order to satisfy their requirement?

3. Contract Management / Staff resources – Once accepted, who managed the contract and what other staff / resources were used to deliver the contract?

4. Outcome – What was the outcome? Was the contract delivered on time and to specification? Were there any additional benefits to the client? Did anything not go to plan and how did you overcome this?

5. Client comments – Try and get a comment from your client on how happy they were with your service delivery – ideally in the form of a testimonial.

Our top three tips

1. Keep it relevant Public sector bodies are very risk-averse so you need to show them that you are capable of delivering a contract that meets their tender requirements. Hence, relevance is key when writing case studies. Consider your previous experience and focus on the job/jobs that best match/matches the scope of the tender you are applying for. If you don’t have a like-for-like match then pick the next closest one. You can always play on the similarities. For matching purposes you want to look for:

  • The same service delivery ie the scope of works is very close to what you have delivered elsewhere.
  • The same sector type eg university and university is an ideal match, university and school is a good match whereas university and council is not such a good match.
  • The same value band. Ideally you would be looking to evidence a previous example of work that was for roughly the same value. This shows the authority that you are capable and have successfully delivered a contract of the same value.

2. Boast about your success and any hurdles you overcame A case study is the ideal place to sell your success, strengths and capabilities but it also gives you an ideal opportunity to describe any hurdles you came across and what you did to overcome them.

Most contracts don’t go through glitch free so it’s ok to say that occasionally things didn’t go to plan as long as you demonstrate how you dealt with the issue.

  • Did you have processes in place in case of a problem?
  • How did you rectify things?
  • Was the desired outcome affected? Hopefully not.
  • What have you learnt from this hurdle and have you put any new processes in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

When it comes to your strengths you’d imagine it would be easy to sell yourself, but often this is the hardest part. You know you are good at what you do but why are you good at it?

  • Did you deliver the contract on time or preferably ahead of schedule?
  • Did you deliver the contract within budget or preferably under budget?
  • Did you add any extra value to the contract / include any additional services free of charge?
  • Do your staff excel at what they do? (No sickness / absenteeism).
  • Were your clients’ expectations met / exceeded?
  • Do you foresee and put plans in place to prevent any potential problems?
  • Did you have regular meetings with the authority to discuss the service offering to make sure they were happy or if there was any room for improvement? If so, did you implement any improvements?
  • Have you learnt anything that will make you a better supplier going forward

3. Quality control This should be embedded into your day-to-day business processes so why should drafting a tender be any different?

Once your case study is drafted get several people to check it. Ideally a couple of people should check for spelling, grammar and quality of writing. These people do not need to have been involved in the particular job referred to, as they are just looking for general writing errors. Get a third person to check for accuracy. This person must know the contract in hand as it’s their job to check that all the information you have inputted is completely accurate, as an authority can always check that facts are facts and not fiction.