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Bid/no-bid summaries

 October 3, 2017
by Paul Heron

In past posts we’ve stressed the value of structured and transparent bid/no-bid decisions. A consistent process that considers both RFP-specific and strategic issues enables your team to make faster and better decisions.

Speed and quality are both important. Faster decisions save precious time if you decide to bid, and let you move quickly to other priorities if you decide to pass. Better decisions enable you to commit resources to projects with the best chances of success.

Obstacles to good decisions

As powerful as a collaborative and transparent bid decision process can be, in practice it faces two critical risks:

  • Lack of preparation: Typical RFPs run to dozens, if not hundreds, of pages. Participants might skim the document, but may not be familiar enough to contribute fully.
  • Incomplete information: Even if all participants do a good job of reading and thinking about the RFP, a high-quality decision might require more information.

If either or both of these situations occur regularly, bid/no-bid meetings will become frustrating and seen as a waste of time. Bid decisions will be put off, or made without the consideration they deserve. Over time, the process itself may be abandoned.

Decision summaries

Avoid these risks by arming your team with a bid decision summary—especially if the typical RFP is complex and/or the opportunity flow requires multiple bid decision sessions per month.

Assign a bid team member to review the RFP carefully, and then to use our Bid-No-Bid Decision Tool as a guide in creating the summary.  Gather information from internal and external sources (e.g. bid taker info on the issuer’s site), balancing the need for completeness with your understanding of what the decision team will already know.

Consider including at least the following:

Prospect information—from internal records

  • Recent bids submitted to this prospect and results, including price sensitivity if known
  • If the prospect is a current client, any performance, payment or other issues of which the decision team may not be aware

Project information—from the RFP

  • Statement of strategic intent and/or key selection factors
  • Statement of work
  • Compliance highlights, including submission date, page limits, and any unusual requirements
  • Scoring process and framework
  • Response outline if provided
  • RFP page references for above and any other important items

Competitive information—as available

  • Name of incumbent
  • Other bid takers
  • Recent awards to likely bidders
  • Competitor relationships with prospect of which the team may not be aware

Internal factors

  • Current commitments involving the same key individuals and/or subcontractors
  • Potential conflicts

After developing a few summaries, streamline the summary process by developing a template with headings that fit your requirements. Fine tune the level of detail based on observed discussions at bid/no-bid decision meetings.

Provide context, without trying to shape the decision 

Focus on facts when developing summaries. Bid teams often develop strong opinions about the wisdom of bidding on certain types of projects or to certain prospects. Expressing these will diminish the summary’s credibility.

Instead, present all the relevant facts fairly, so the decision team has all the information needed to see the opportunity clearly.


Helping decision makers be efficient will improve their perceptions of the bid/no-bid decision process and willingness to participate—improving bid win rates over time. 

Next week: Win/loss reviews—another tool to improve win rates  



Need help improving bid response processes?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 





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