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Strategise to Win: Transitioning to a Proactive Bidding Mindset

May 10, 2024

Tendering and bidding

Tendering and bidding for a projects and programs are essential activities that can make or break an organisation’s chances of being successful, and which can define the future trajectory of its growth in a competitive marketplace. These engagements, crucial for revenue growth and operations, also have profound implications on workforce stability and the outcomes for beneficiaries of the initiatives undertaken.

With a plorific number of project and program tenders being issued daily by various tiers of government, spanning a wide spectrum of industries and down to specifics of  the goods, services and works being procured – the compulsion to respond within the tight timeframe often pushes organisations into a reactive state.

Such an indiscriminate rush to respond to each opportunity, often without a strategic filter or proper due diligence, not only drains the enterprise (raising the spectre of bid burnout and the exodus of institutional knowledge), but can also result in overlooking strategic approaches that could better position the organisation for success.

It’s an approach akin to treating the symptom rather than the disease and fails to remedy the underlying inefficiencies of the process.  The solution lies in evolving from reactionary mode to one of sustained proactivity and strategic foresight.

Traditionally, bid management has been characterised by disorderly work environments, off-the-cuff responses, and a race against the clock. In this reactive flux, opportunities to extract learnings from past bids or to lay the groundwork for upcoming opportunities often go unheeded.

Conversely, consider a unified operational centre — complete with historical data, market intelligence and strategy-focused planning. Such a system is designed not just to keep up with the ebb and flow of tenders, but it becomes a strategic navigator to guide your organisation in understanding and seizing potential opportunities methodically.

The Reactive Reality of Tendering and Bidding

Ask yourself, how many times have you found yourself at the mercy of a last-minute bid? Reactive bid management is characterised by acting upon a tender only during the advertised window, leaving little time for considered research, refinement or reflection. It is marked by scrambling for resources and collating information in a race against time—an unsustainable model that often leads to mediocre proposals and hit and miss alignment.

The inception of a project or program bid inherently calls for a foresight and meticulous preparation, as the nature of such bids is complex and the stakes are high. Reactivity here can have dire consequences – projects might be poorly planned, unsustainable, or misaligned with stakeholders’ needs, leading to diminished impact, wasted resources, and sometimes project failure (the triple D threat – delay, dispute and debt).

In contrast, organisations with mature business development processes take a proactive approach to bidding.  They start by casting the net wide and deep to understand the factors affecting the industry. They know the competitive landscape, and they align organisational capabilities with market needs, and identify potential opportunities well before they surface on official channels.

How can you shift from being reactive to proactive?

  1. Build a holistic view of the bid pipeline, equipped with timely alerts and strategic insights that ensure you are always several steps ahead.
  2. Develop a robust content library, fine-tuned by sector/industry specific insights aligned to procurement requirements, and bolstered by a collated knowledge base of past proposals and responses.
  3. Strategically allocate resources, ensuring bid teams are not perennially overstretched, but focused and efficient.
  4. Employ actionable analytics that dissect previous tenders, capturing insights from victories and learning from narrow misses.

Strategic Mindshift, Changed Work Winning Behaviours

Establishing a strong foundation fosters a culture where tendering and bidding are not merely reactive responses but rather, engagements with strategic work-winning behaviours embedded within the business’ fabric. In this realm, there’s investment in establishing and maintaining a content library; rigorous scouting of pre-bid intelligence; routine pipeline management; and in-depth consideration and reflection of decisions made, performance outcomes achieved and feedback received. And it’s communicated to everyone centrally, and transparently.

The bottom line, is that we all want systems that remarkably improve the efficiency and success rates of proposals, but it can only really be done by adopting an ethos that permeates the organisation’s very approach to bidding — reflective, strategic, and above all, proactive.



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