Following a process that includes a structured bid/no-bid decision and strategy making before kickoff ensures:
- Your decision to bid is made only after careful evaluation of the prospect and project, and competitive and internal factors, and
- You kick off the proposal only after building a win strategy that’s responsive to the prospect’s issues and includes value propositions for all buyer types
Despite all this effort, you may still not have a winning strategy.
The downside to momentum
Bid decisions are typically based on reasonable assumptions and on knowledge available at the time. Subsequent strategy making includes testing those assumptions and gathering more facts. In the process, you may discover (among other things) that:
- Your ideal strategic partner has signed on with a competing bid team
- An internal resource you counted on was assigned to another project
- The cost structure for your ideal solution is higher than initial estimates
In each case strategy makers typically select the next best option and press on. Any one of these second choices might not be fatal—but cumulatively they could doom the proposal.
A challenge for any team is staying realistic about their probability of success. Even in these early days, a proposal effort can develop momentum that’s hard to deflect or stop.
Enter the Blue Team review
A Blue Team should include people familiar with the client, project and competition—but who are not part of the proposal team*. Their job is to review the built-out strategy for completeness and to test it against the prospect’s needs and issues and competitors’ relative strengths and weaknesses.
*NOTE: Staffing independent review teams is a significant challenge in smaller organizations where everyone who understands the prospect and project is part of the strategy process. We’ll look at workarounds to address this in a future post.
Any serious issues raised by the Blue Team should be addressed before proposal writing kicks off. If one or more critical shortcomings cannot be corrected, the organization may still decide to proceed for strategic reasons.
Revisiting the bid/no-bid decision
After receiving the Blue Team’s comments, senior management may reverse the decision to bid, abandoning the opportunity. This usually happens for one of two reasons:
- The bid/no-bid process was flawed or poorly executed, or
- Changing conditions or fact discovered during strategy making significantly reduced the prospect of a win
If the bid decision process was flawed, the bidder has learned a valuable lesson—It needs to correct the flaw for future opportunities.
If a once-credible chance of winning has disappeared, deciding not to bid conserves precious resources. At this point, the pursuit has consumed relatively little effort, compared to proceeding to the Red Team review and beyond.
Pulling the plug is frustrating—but if needed, sooner is better.
In any of the above situations, the Blue Team has fulfilled its purpose—and demonstrated its value.
Next week: Black Hat reviews.
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