• Whitney

You can't afford to avoid bid/no-bid decisions


No organization has unlimited resources. There are always too few people and is always too little money to go after every possible funding opportunity that wanders across your lap.

Too often though, I see organizations trying to do just this.

Instead of doing the hard work to consider options, weigh priorities, and center in on what is strategically valuable, business development teams try to do it all. They end up hurting themselves two ways.

First, their teams suffer. Overworked and over-stressed is no way to maintain a happy business development team. Sure, all business development is relatively high stress and time pressured, but when a team understands that they are pursuing a great opportunity (and they have appropriate resources supporting them), it makes it all a little easier.

Second, they end up wasting time and money. Instead of focusing their hard earned resources where they can have the greatest potential for impact, they end up spending willy-nilly on random bids, while strategic opportunities don't receive the dedicated attention they warrant.

No organization should try to do it all. If you do - you'll end up doing it all poorly.

It's not easy to make the hard decisions. But if you avoid making a decision - either because you're too far down the path, you've got staff emotionally invested, or you really think it could be cool - you're just making a bad decision without taking ownership.

Senior leadership needs to step up and own the bid/no-bid decision making process.

Without direction from the top, rule by committee leads to everyone and no one being responsible. Without anyone officially responsible for strategic bid/no-bid decisions, personal and departmental priorities can easily take over. The whole of organization view point is essential to ensure that organizational resources are being directed in the most efficient way.

My advice? Build these key questions into how you make a bid/no-bid decision:

  1. Do we have the people to staff a full capture and proposal team?

  2. Do we have the resources to support a competitive bid (e.g. assessments, field teams, consultants)?

  3. Does this opportunity clearly (not tangentially) align to our priorities?

  4. Do we have strong intelligence on who we will be competing against?

  5. Will pursuing this opportunity take away from our ability to pursue another strategic opportunity?

If you can answer those strategic questions, the answers will lead you down a very clear path.

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