To bid, or not to bid: that is the question 

A clever twist on the Bard’s famous line from Hamlet, but a quick internet search revealed that I wasn’t the first to think of it – not by a long shot.

The question remains extremely relevant for businesses large and small. Does your organisation have trouble deciding when, and when not to, respond to the many requests for tenders, expressions of interest and other approaches to market?

Many organisations find it difficult to pass up on any opportunity for business, responding to any and all invitations to submit a quote or tender, without understanding that this approach may actually be more detrimental than beneficial to their success.

Responding to any approach to market has a cost, mostly in staff time to pull the required information together. As the buyer’s requirements become more complex, however, so the cost of preparing a response increases. More staff are required to provide input, a bid manager may be required to coordinate input from different parts of the organisation, or a bid development team may need to be formed.

Doing things right (investing time in bid development), doesn’t mean you are doing the right things (bidding on requests you have a poor chance of winning). For your organisation to take a more strategic approach to bid decisions, one of the key requirements is the application of the right set of questions when looking at each new bid opportunity to ensure time is spent on realistic opportunities rather than wasted on long shots.

It’s also vital to have a good understanding of the competition for that opportunity which can be quite complex in some markets. This includes:

  • Knowing what level of competition has been sought (direct, limited tender, open tender)
  • Potential competitors
  • Where you sit in the budget to premium continuum and how that compares to your understanding of the customer’s buying habits (but exploring that topic is a whole article in itself).

Most people will agree you’re better off putting more resources into preparing better bids for the right fit approaches to market, while not wasting resources on those they have a poor chance of winning. However, time and again we see the opposite occurring in practice – and this is often in large, mature organisations.

Developing a robust bid/no bid process is an integral step in developing, or upgrading, a disciplined bid optimisation process. While there may be a lot of free advice available on how to develop a framework for making bid/no-bid decisions, some of it useful but most incomplete, many organisations struggle with the implementation into a real work environment.

Organisations need to optimise their bid management processes, to specifically suit their own organisation’s operating model. But never be afraid to ask for help.

Find out more about GWI’s procurement and business advisory services

Louis Hof

Senior Consultant