A Go / No-Go checklist is an invaluable tool when deciding whether to pursue a tender opportunity.
While it can be tempting to compete for as many as possible, winning tenders requires a brutally selective approach. Bidding isn’t a numbers game and the art of choosing the right tenders to engage in should be one you work strategically to perfect.
The decision-making process can seem simple on the surface, if you qualify you go for it, right? But asking the right questions will give you the clarity to decide whether a tender opportunity is worthwhile. After all, it is better to invest your time in winning one tender than in losing several.
Including a Go / No-Go checklist in the early stages of your tender process will ensure you think through the most important considerations when deciding to bid on a project. In our experience, there are five crucial areas to cover:
- Your expertise and client relationship
- The strategic value of the bid,
- The competitive landscape at the time
- The corporate commitment
- Bid certainty.
To get you started, let’s take a closer look at each of these topics and the types of questions you need to ask before you dive into a bid.
Expertise and Client Relationship
Understanding your client and having the expertise to complete the scope of works is imperative. .
You need to be able to prove that you can do the role and get buy-in from the evaluators. Nothing achieves this like having your tender writer pack your submission with evidence of relevant past successes, a deep understanding of the risks and requirements of the prospective project, and a clear and detailed plan to deliver.
Interestingly though, through the research that went into our Behind Closed Doors report, we also know that almost one-third of our evaluators said that a partnership relationship between the buyer and the bidder was the most important factor in choosing a successful tenderer. The evaluators clarified that this didn’t necessarily mean an existing relationship; it meant the perceived ability of the buyer and bidder to work well together in delivery. This is an often-overlooked factor in the tender process. To cover off the expertise and client relationship aspect of your Go / No-Go checklist, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you know and respect the client?
- Does the client know and respect you?
- Do you have impressive relevant experience?
- Do you have credibility in this field?
- Do you have anything genuinely different to offer?
While answering ‘no’ to any of these questions isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, it will mean that you need to account for any shortfalls in your submission, should you choose to proceed with the tender.
After reviewing your relationship and credibility, you need to assess whether the project aligns with your business goals and strategy. Sometimes an opportunity can seem appealing, but on reflection is not aligned to your company’s direction. In that case, you’ll need to weigh up any short-term sugar rush from the project, versus long-term distraction from where you really want to go. To make sure you are engaging in the most strategically valuable bids for your organisation, start your tender process by asking yourself these questions:
- Is this the right strategic direction for you?
- Would winning this contract further your goals?
- Is this client likely to be a strong partner in future?
- Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
- Do you have the capability to deliver this contract?
If you don’t have a formal strategic plan or goal for your business, this is the time to develop one. Getting clear on where you see your business going is crucial to ensuring success in every aspect of your business, not just bidding.
The world of bidding is extremely competitive. A common misconception is that price is the deciding factor in tendering, and while it does represent part of the complex bid evaluation process, there is far more to it than who comes in the cheapest. To be truly competitive, you must know the landscape of the bid. Not only do you need to consider the other competitors bidding but . You need to understand how the opportunity has come about and who is involved. You need to know where you stand in the running. Importantly, you need to know how you can outbid and outsmart your competition. Understanding the specific competitive landscape around your bid can help you decide whether to proceed and assist in formulating a winning bid strategy too. Ask yourself:
- Is there an incumbent?
- Is the client happy with the incumbent’s performance?
- If the client is unhappy, do you know why?
- Is the scope of requirements slanted toward a competitor?
- If you win, will it unsettle or damage your competitors?
Having a deep understanding of the landscape on which the project has been developed is an essential foundation for moving forward with the tender process. Even when a completely new opportunity presents itself without the baggage of a current or previous incumbent, it is important to consider the market in which you are competing. Understanding your competition helps you develop your value proposition and your competitive edge.
Perhaps the most important element of all is your company’s level of corporate commitment. The biggest danger to a winning bid is the ‘toe in the water’ approach. Winning requires full commitment including all the resources and support you can muster. As one experienced Bid Director once said: “If you have a brilliant and capable team, a smart solution that offers value for money, and you submit a compelling bid, you may win. To try to do all of that with one hand tied behind your back through lack of corporate support is madness.” You need to be sure you have the budget, the resources, and the support from your leadership team to successfully complete the project. To identify any risks that may constitute a dealbreaker situation, consider these questions:
- Do you have full corporate support and approval?
- Do you have the depth of commitment to this tender? (resources, budget)
- Is your organisation comfortable with the contractual requirements?
- Is the project commercially viable?
- Have you already formed the partnerships you need?
This is a crucial part of the Go / No-Go checklist and your tender process because without any one of these requirements, your bid may be over before it has even begun. The plus side is that you can begin to really weed out the tenders that aren’t worth investing in. It is better to find out before you get in too deep and save yourself the time and resources that would be otherwise wasted.
Now that you have properly assessed your ability to fulfil the requirements of the contract, it is equally important to consider the viability of the project and any contingencies that may arise. Any project and indeed any partnership opportunity depends on both parties being properly resourced and fully committed. It is safe to assume you’ll need to make a significant investment on each project you pursue. To ensure that your funds, energy and reputation are in safe hands, consider the following:
- Is this project or acquisition properly funded?
- Is the client serious about making a decision?
- Are there benefits to the client in choosing us?
- Are there political considerations to be aware of?
- Will costs be reimbursed if the project doesn’t proceed?
Having now compiled a comprehensive Go / No-Go checklist, it’s time for your Bid Manager to decide what a pass mark might be for your organisation. We recommend 20 out of 25 as a basic rule of thumb but it also depends on which questions you answer ‘no’ to – if they are in the Corporate Commitment section, even one no may be a major red flag. To that end, you need to decide which questions are dealbreakers. At what point do you decide to pull the plug and focus on other opportunities? What pass mark would highlight a tender you have a strong shot at winning? Your Go / No-Go checklist should make it easy to determine all of this, as well as helping you refine your approach to the bid if you continue.
To ensure you get the most out of this exercise, use it as your go-to review system each time a prospect comes your way and revisit it throughout the tender process. Things can (and do) change over the course of a pursuit, so it is good discipline to revisit the Go / No-Go checklist at key milestones to confirm your decision.
To get help with developing your own Go / No-Go Checklist and getting the competitive edge on your next proposal, contact our team of tender specialists today. We provide obligation free consultations that focus on tailoring a solution to meet your needs and budget.
Behind closed doors
Our 2022 Behind Closed Doors report provides insights into what it takes to get that bid-winning edge. We invited evaluators of rail sector projects from across Australia and New Zealand to share their feedback on recent procurement experience. We are confident that the research findings can be used to improve your next bid.