The typical company spends on average 10% of their revenue target on Bids and Proposals (B&P). Risks that increase the B&P budget include poor bid decisions, an immature solution, insufficient training and tools, large review teams producing comments that are not actionable, and lack of executive support. With constrained budgets and increased competition for smaller work share, contractors cannot afford to waste B&P dollars. APMP-NCA Platinum Sponsor Lohfeld Consulting Group’s Principal Consultants Brenda Crist, CPF APMP, and Lisa Pafe, CPP APMP, presented an interactive webinar on November 20 to 157 participants to highlight how to increase productivity and win rates.
Live audience polling showed that 37% of webinar participants always establish and enforce B&P budgets, 32% sometimes do, and 31% never do. With these statistics in mind, it is especially important to understand how estimate the budget and how to manage it for maximum productivity, defined as greater number of B&P activities that are of high quality to result in more wins.
Brenda and Lisa recommended borrowing from best practices such as ISO, ITIL, CMMI, PMI PMBOK and Agile which all have in common the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle. Establishing SOPs based on best practices provides a foundation in an environment of rapid change. Best practices serve as a springboard to tailor your solution to customer needs and hone your discriminators. Interestingly, audience live polling showed that 26% of companies always apply best practices to increase productivity, 68% sometimes do, and 6% never do. Brenda and Lisa provided tips for pre-RFP, post-RFP, and post submission productivity enhancements.
1. Pipeline Development – Make informed decisions at the earliest phase to have the biggest impact on cost savings.
2. Capture Management – Avoid incomplete capture; poor capture pushes costs into the proposal phase resulting in much higher B&P costs.
3. Teaming Partner Identification – Pre-qualify reliable partners – costs rise when teaming partners are in flux.
4. Competitive Intelligence – Focus competitive intelligence on Research, Analysis, and Action.
5. Database Development (Resumes/Past Performance) – Leverage existing boilerplate, resumes, company factoids, and past performance as one of the easiest ways to reduce proposal costs.
6. Training & Tools – Make a business case for training and tools to increase productivity (and try to use G&A not B&P budget).
1. Proposal Management – Use Agile, iterative cycles to provide continuous feedback and communication. Manage pricing development and review just as rigorously as the technical approach.
2. Data Calls – Create a comprehensive data call template and progress tracking sheet easily tailored to each solicitation.
3. Writing & Editing – Define the solution fully before writing; provide a detailed outline, writing template, conventions and style guide.
4. Proposal Reviews – Right size the team; issue clear instructions; score from the government evaluator perspective.
5. Production – Implement reusable templates easily tailored; enforce scheduled time for production, QA and white glove to avoid last minute errors.
6. Teaming Partner Management – Set proposal participation expectations in teaming agreement and enforce them.
1. Customer Debrief – Win or lose, make it part of the lessons learned and Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) cycle.
2. Lessons Learned – Create a feedback loop that includes root cause analysis to avoid repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.
3. Continual Process Improvement – Share more, not less; change before you have to!
The final interactive poll asked the audience which factors have the biggest impact on B&P costs and must therefore be managed to increase productivity. 24% of participants selected improved opportunity reviews, 52% better capture planning, 4% streamlined proposal planning, 10% better proposal execution, and 9% CPI.
The Lohfeld Consulting Team concluded with some final thoughts. The first reaction to tough times by many companies is to make cuts. We have all seen the downsizing at various companies, often starting with business development, capture and proposals. While understandable to bottom-line focused management, this approach will not help retain market share. Contractors must focus on increasing productivity. As webinar polling showed, opportunity qualification and better capture have the biggest impact on cost savings; poor bid decisions and incomplete capture have the potential to inflate B&P costs many times over through multiple re-writes. Best practices increase productivity, reduce errors and non-compliance, and improve competitiveness and win rates.