Bidding for contracts is a complex and competitive process, requiring meticulous planning, strategy, and execution. However, the journey doesn’t end once the bid is submitted. In fact, it is crucial for organizations to embrace a continuous improvement mindset and engage in post-bid analysis, also known as post-mortems or customer debriefs. This practice allows businesses to gain valuable insights that can shape future bids, enhance overall performance, and ultimately maximize success rates. Let’s delve into the significance of post-bid analysis and explore how it fuels growth and success in the long run.
A Continuous Loop of Improvement
Post-bid analysis serves as an essential component of a continuous improvement cycle. By evaluating the outcomes of past bids, organizations can identify areas of strength and weakness, uncovering opportunities for growth and refinement. The analysis helps teams understand what worked well and what could be improved, fostering a culture of learning and adaptation. By embracing these insights, businesses can fine-tune their strategies and approaches to improve performance in future bids.
Let’s consider a practical example of a bid for a construction project. In their debrief, they were given feedback that they demonstrated a thorough understanding of project requirements. This was supported by presenting a detailed and clear project plan, which gave the evaluators confidence in the organisation’s ability to deliver and add value to the project. On the other hand, the cost breakdown was not as detailed or transparent and did not give the client a clear understanding of the financial aspects of the proposal.
By taking these insights into account, the bid team can refine their strategy for future projects.
Uncovering Correlations and Patterns
Post-bid analysis offers the advantage of identifying recurring patterns and themes over time. By analyzing data from multiple bids, organizations can identify customer hot buttons, pain points, and preferences. This knowledge empowers businesses to tailor their future bids to align with customer expectations, increasing the likelihood of success.
Let’s consider another example using a failed bid for a government software implementation project.
In the debrief, the evaluators emphasized the importance of interoperability and seamless integration with existing systems. After reviewing past bid feedback from other government agencies, several evaluators consistently mentioned the importance of compatibility with current infrastructure and the ability to exchange data seamlessly. The correlation suggests that if the business is serious about pursuing government opportunities, prioritising interoperability and emphasising it in future bids would significantly enhance the chances of success.
Understanding Competitor Strategies
Post-bid analysis provides invaluable insights into competitor strategies. By dissecting the outcomes of bids, organizations can gain a deeper understanding of what sets winning bids apart from the rest. Additionally, it sheds light on customer preferences (and potential biases) towards certain suppliers or incumbents. This knowledge allows businesses to adapt and refine their capture strategies.
Let’s use an example of a bid submitted by a global commercial provider, and its nearest competitor was a smaller not-for-profit. Throughout the debrief, the evaluators emphasised the importance of strong local relationships and partnerships. They expressed a desire for selected providers to have established connections with local stakeholders, such as community organisations, businesses, and government entities. The small, not-for-profit’s strong local presence and established networks at the grassroots level played a crucial role in their success compared to the global company’s process-driven systematised approach. The insight suggests that the customer values an integrated, community-centric approach to service delivery.
Identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, and Risks:
Post-bid analysis provides an opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your bidding strategy (price and non-price), including the solution offering, nominated service or project delivery key personnel, your proposed approach to delivery, and the overall maturity of your business processes. By seeking feedback and recognising recurring themes, organisations can address shortcomings and mitigate risks. This self-awareness and continuous self-improvement is crucial for long-term success of not just your bidding efforts, but your organisation’s overall growth strategy.
For instance, in a debrief for a mid-sized professional services firm bidding to a federal government department, technical expertise and project approach were scored highly. However, concerns were raised about the team’s scalability and key person risk. To address these weaknesses, the firm could showcase successful projects that demonstrate scalability by highlighting the breadth and depth of other qualified backup personnel, and emphasise their investment in technology systems and infrastructure as well as strategic partnerships that provide additional resources or expertise when needed.
Post-bid analysis helps organizations identify the unique differentiators that set them apart from competitors. By examining successful bids, businesses can pinpoint the factors that contributed to their win and leverage these differentiators in future bids. This knowledge enables organizations to better understand and qualify those opportunities that they have a higher probability of winning and where they can showcase their strengths and value proposition more effectively.
Let’s look at an example of an engineering project. During the debrief, the evaluators praised the company’s approach to project management and the utilisation of advanced techniques and technologies to improve efficiency and cost savings. In other successful bids, the company received feedback on its ability to communicate effectively with stakeholders. The company can draw upon these attributes to differentiate its offerings around excellence in service delivery. To support this positioning, it could be backed up by evidence through case studies, customer testimonials and key performance indicators that showcase exceptional project delivery and client value.
Post-bid analysis is not just a one-time activity but an integral part of a continuous improvement loop. Win, lose or draw, any feedback – positive and negative – can be used to focus on bidding opportunities that align with your strengths and highlight weaknesses or gaps that need to be addressed or improved upon by the business. Embracing this practice unlocks valuable insights that fuel growth, enhance competitiveness, and increase success rates. By correlating patterns, understanding customer preferences, refining strategies, and leveraging unique differentiators, businesses can stay ahead of the competition and achieve long-term success in the dynamic world of bidding.
About the Author
Nyree McKenzie is the Co-founder and CEO of Bidhive. With more than 25 years experience as a Bid Manager and Management Consultant, Nyree has gained significant international experience leading bid teams through complex, high value contract pursuits as well as leading enterprise process improvement and change initiatives. Having worked in the bid management industry for many years, Nyree was motivated to help companies scale and transform their painful manual bid processes to achieve more through analytics, AI and automation.