Bid or no Bid..?

bidnobidDeciding to respond to a tender is an investment, a costly “investment” when the tender is lost to a competitor. Bid or no-bid decisions are therefore often subject to a more or less well established strategy.

I was reading through an interesting linkedin discussion this week about the making of a bid / no bid decisions where most contributors to the discussion were, in the rational behind their decision making, focussing on internal considerations e.g. a lot of “do we?” and “can we?” to respond to a “should we?”.

Having always had a slight different tack to bid / no bid decisions, I decided to read on and browse the Net. I was rather puzzled to see that a simple Google search pointed me to MSOffice templates for bid / no bid decision making. I could live with the, somehow qualitative once-in-a-bid-time qualification driven by experience and expertise of seasoned business developers, but checklists and point scoring from Microsoft?.. Ok, the templates aren’t strictly speaking from Microsoft but from a Programme Management consultancy. Still…

Searching further afield I came across a number of decision flows i.e. “yes”/”no” answers to a few questions to guide you through to the “right” decision. Unsettling.

We all know that companies will have from “shotguns” to “no-blind-bid” “strategic” bidding approaches; and for those on either extremes of that spectrum the bid / no-bid decision is rather straight forward. How about the “inbetweeners” though?

My take on bid / no-bid has always been twofold:

  1. Get, as often as it is possible, the prospect to confirm we should be bidding – Continuous engagement is key. Qualification must be repeated through the process and with the prospect’s inputs. It is not a one-time task.
  2. Manage a bid through a half-systematic process, and that isn’t an oxymoron – Qualification must be systematic and scientific however never will follow the exact same steps. I see it as “snakes & ladders”: you don’t know where the next throw will get you, but must know where you are at after each throw in the process, how you are placed, and where you can get next.

Bid or no bid is not a simple “Qualify”. It is a “Qualify, then qualify, and qualify again”. Do use checklists, do have workflows, do use historical data, refer to seasoned professionals, engage with the prospect and never forget, there are many ways to get to “58”, as there are to get to “61”.

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