The Clock is Ticking on your Bid Decision and Affecting your Likelihood for Success

Whether or not to bid is one of the most important decisions you make during the proposal cycle. Implementing a formalized bid/no-bid process can minimize wasted effort and maximize your chances of getting the most important contracts. Far too many contractors “wing it” when it comes to this crucial choice. By establishing parameters for your bid/no-bid process now, you can quickly and decisively set yourself ahead of the competition. Let’s examine some key aspects of making timely bid/no-bid decisions:cartoon-color

  • Make your initial decision well before the RFP is released. Once an RFP is released, it’s important to hit the ground running with the proposal effort. If your proposal/estimating team is waiting on a bid/no-bid decision, they lose crucial days that could be spent on refining strategy, coordination, writing, submission of RFIs, and other pressing deadlines. Alternatively, if your proposal team proceeds despite the uncertainty, you run the risk of wasting time and money on a partially-complete proposal.
  • You can easily avoid these negative outcomes by making your bid/no-bid decision while the RFP is still in the Pre-Solicitation stage. At that point, you have enough information to make a preliminary assessment of whether the contract will be a good fit for your firm. Likewise, you can determine whether you’ll need to establish a strategic team and set up a solid teaming agreement in time. To put yourself in the best win position, preliminary bid decisions should be made, to include teaming commitments and proposal resource allocation, prior to an RFP release.

In our experience, one of the biggest road blocks in making the bid/no-bid decision and getting a jump-start on the proposal is that the team is not committed at the time the RFP is released. If you are making phone calls to potential team members with whom you have not previously discussed the opportunity, you are behind and decreasing and/or eliminating your chance for success on the opportunity.

  • Once the RFP is released, confirm your bid/no bid decision as quickly as possible. By now, you already decided whether you want the contract/project. Assuming you decided to bid, it’s now time to confirm that you qualify. Sometimes the Government will throw a curve ball, and one of your qualifying project experience examples that seemed like a shoo-in may not help you qualify for the contract/project.

Conduct a gap analysis to ensure that your firm does in fact have the required experience, personnel, and resources to propose on the project. This confirmation should be made the same day the RFP is released. This way, you spend the available time to perfect the proposal and estimate—and maximize your odds of winning.

Is the project worth bidding?

  • How does this contract align with your long-term goals? For example, if your firm is trying to expand its reach or capabilities, pursue contracts that align with this goal. Perform strategic capture planning accordingly to set-up the right team and perform the research to understand what it will take to get competitive.
  • What is the strategic value to your company? Making this assessment can help you determine where to focus your proposal/bidding efforts. Resources are always limited, so it makes sense to concentrate your resources on the most important contracts. Perhaps your bid/no-bid process includes a likelihood for success/strategic value tradeoff analysis. Gauging the importance of a project can also help you decide whether to hire outside help for the proposal effort, or make the appropriate internal assignments according to increasing your chances for success.
  • Can you realistically handle the work? Too many companies focus on winning for winning’s sake. These companies run the risk of “winning” themselves into a situation where they’ve overcommitted. Can you actually perform the job—and perform it well—based on geographic location, company expertise, other concurrent commitments, and so on? If the answer is no, then the best case is that you do inferior work and get negative Past Performance ratings. The worst case is that your contract is terminated—an outcome that can be detrimental to your company’s reputation.
  • Is the Government likely to select you for the job? What differentiators does your company bring? How well positioned is the competition? For instance, if you know that the Government is going to make a single award, and that they’ve made that award to the same company every time for the last 20 years, there’s little reason to suspect that they’ll make a change now.
  • Is the contract worth having? Sometimes, a win is really a loss. For instance, winning an IDIQ at an under-funded installation means you’ll likely be pursuing task orders that don’t always receive funding or are impossible to get price competitive at, thus incurring unnecessary proposal and estimating costs.

Establishing a solid bid/no-bid process is one of the most important steps for your company’s future. Before using resources to pursue opportunities, perform a strategic analysis to put your company in the best position for the win.

It’s okay to say “no” when the opportunity isn’t the right one. And it’s important to hit the ground running on the proposal and estimate when the opportunity is the right one.

For more information on strategies to differentiate your proposals and win government contracts, please contact us at

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