Best-in-class bid capability cannot be achieved without excellent processes. Sadly, I see numerous organisations who lack any process whatsoever, or have the process neatly hidden away in long-forgotten book shelves or servers. I have also seen many organisations who mistake process (intended to bring structure) with internal governance, which often results in corporate ‘treacle’ that focus too much on the internal at the expense of the all-important customer.
The best-in-class bidding organisations that I have experienced (often through APMP friendships) have an end-to-end bid process that is current, fit-for-purpose, and easy to understand and apply. It has clearly defined stages, steps and gates, and is used consistently and effectively across the organisation. Most importantly, it balances the need for internal governance with the need for a strong customer focus.
The longer the bid timescales, the more likely things are to change, and this is often overlooked in the hurry to produce a (hopefully) compliant proposal. The best processes include strong gating, whereby progress through the stages is governed by Stop / Go / Review metrics that ensure that progress is reviewed, the current status is understood, and moving to the next stage is appropriate.
One glowing oversight in many existing bid processes is continuous improvement. Every process (bid or otherwise) should not be treated as having a beginning and end, but more as a ‘virtuous circle’, held together by a stage that reflects on what has gone before (why you won, why you lost) and applies any lessons learned to the process, and to future bids.
I was once shown a bid process that cost a company $1m to have externally developed, and my first observation was that it ended with the award of the business, with no recognition of the need to review, learn and adapt from the pursuit. This would never happen in professional sport, so why does it happen in the corporate world?
Does any of this sound familiar, either in your current organisation, or in a previous life?