In new product development, there is a famous saying: “Sooner or later, you have to shoot the engineer and put the product in to production.”
You see, when a new product is being developed, the tendency from the development team is to create a prototype, seek feedback, and then make it better, and better, and better, seeking more and more feedback and adding more and more improvements to the product. The product engineer, who leads the product development team, wants the product to be perfect before launching it.
And what’s wrong with that, you ask? Why would anyone want to shoot that nice man who wants his product to be a good as it can be?
Well, the problem is that in business we need to have products in the market and selling, not stuck in development costing money. The ideal situation is that the products are first to market (ahead of the competition) and developed within budget, and unfortunately, the longer it takes to develop a product, the more the product costs and the more likely that you’ll lose the first mover advantage and your competitors beat you to the punch.
So, in striving to make a product better, and better, and better, you actually work against the product’s success.
This is why we say that at some point, we have to shoot the engineer and put the product in to production, even knowing that the product isn’t perfect. We can launch the product, make some money, continue product development and release a new and improved product a little down the track. (Think Apple on this strategy.)
And the same is true for tendering. Especially when the offer is something being designed and customised for the client, such as in a construction or infrastructure project. There is a tendency to try to make the solution better and better and better, right up until the last minute.
The problem though is that to win a tender you need a good solution, and to be able to sell your good solution in the tender. Having an amazing solution but a crappy submission document isn’t a winning formula.
You need to put together a fantastic solution, and then give the submission team enough time to put together a fantastic submission for the client. If you take too much time working and reworking the solution, you end up crushing the submission team to the point where they can’t do justice to the solution you’ve developed. And then no one wins.
So just like new production development is a partnership between the product development team (developing an awesome product) and the marketing team (commercialising and selling an awesome product), a winning tender is a balanced team effort between the technical team and the submission team.
And in most tenders, it has been my experience that sooner or later you’ve got to shoot the engineer(s) and put the tender into production, allowing enough time to do a winning job on the submission. The most important thing you’ll need is strong leadership to pull the trigger on the design and wrestle the proposal from the engineers so that the submission team has enough time for preparing the submission.
(No engineers were harmed in the writing of this article.)