Prioritizing bid/no-bid decisions
No matter what size organization I'm working with, they all seem to have a common problem. Too many opportunities, and too few resources to pursue them all. How do you choose?
A smart bid decision - and a smart process for reaching good bid decisions - is essential to make sure that your limited resources are going in the right direction to maximize results. While these decisions are often led by an organization's leadership, every member of a business development team has the ability to contribute to smart and strategic bid decisions.
Why create a system for bid decisions?
First off, without a system in place, you risk bidding on low win-opportunities, wasting money on poor bid decisions that could cause a risk your organization. Bidding on a waste of time is demoralizing to staff and can tarnish your organization's reputation with a particular donor.
Second, making decisions subjectively chips away at the credibility of leadership. A clear system can prevent the perception of certain bids being pet projects.Prioritizing strategically and based on objective criteria will make it clear why one bid moves forward while another doesn't make it past a decision gate.
What decision gates do you need to consider?
There are a handful of decision gates identified by the proposal experts at Shipley Associates. They always start with a market campaign decision as the first gate, but in most organizations I work with, the general sectors and topic areas they work in are relatively stagnant and defined by mission statements and overarching strategies. Once you get beyond those market campaign decisions, there are a lot more key decision points that require consideration. Some of these include: 1) investing in capture planning, 2) investing in proposal development planning, 3) investing in proposal and cost preparation, and 4) submitting a bid.
Revisiting a decision to bid shouldn't be perceived as a bad thing. Things can change.
Those decision gates are among even more - the most important point is that your organization isn't investing resource (either money or staff time) in a bid that doesn't make sense for your organization. Applying decision gates before investing significant resources without considering the strategic value of a bid is best practice.
What could a system look like?
At a minimum, you should have identified the key decision makers. Those may be a certain set of individuals for each decision gate, but having those individuals designated with that authority established at the outset makes responsibility clear.
Second, define a set of questions to guide decision making. For each decision gate, identify the core questions you would want answers to in order to make a decision. For example, does the organization have the staff capacity to pursue this opportunity? Document those questions so the decision makers can return to those for each opportunity they discuss.
Having a system in place to ensure your organization is strategically pursuing the right bid decisions will improve every aspect of your business development process.