This month we consider how to decide whether or not to bid on a specific RFP. A poor process wastes time and creates division. A shared, transparent process improves internal alignment and gives you information to optimize your win rate over time.
In addition to assessing the prospect, project and competitive factors, do you have the team and resources needed to win the competition and take on the project? Answer these questions by asking:
How qualified is your proposed team? How does your team rank on a scale from highly capable to barely qualified? Do you have a leader with experience on similar projects? Could another team member complete the project if the proposed leader became unavailable?
Are other needed resources available? If you win, how far will the project stretch your infrastructure? Do you have the necessary IT and admin resources? Can you find and on-board additional resources post-award?
How will this project impact other clients? Might an existing client see a conflict of interest if you take this on? Will the effort needed to complete this project compromise your ability to serve other clients?
Does the project have strategic significance? Does the project have potential to improve your competitive position? Is it your chance to crack a new account or get a toehold in a new industry? Could it fund development of a new technology or new capabilities?
Is it too big to handle? Growing companies need to constantly balance their appetite for ever larger and more complex projects with the need to be prudent about risk. Many industries include onetime high-flyers brought down by “whales”—projects they took on, and then couldn’t handle.
Is this the right project at the right time?
Most RFPs may fit well with your capabilities and resources, making these questions easy to answer. But stretch opportunities, when they appear, need to be recognized and considered for their strategic implications.
Using a decision framework will help you establish a shared language and format for talking about RFP opportunities—and to surface strategic issues in a way that enables you to take the risks needed to grow, while protecting your business.
Next week: A decision-making format you can adapt and use in your business.