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Measuring the Success of Bid and Proposal Teams

When measuring a bid team’s success, it is necessary to evaluate their outputs.  This allows a company to judge success, value and possibly return on investment if, for example, training or recruitment is being considered.

Many companies use a simple measure of win rates.  These are clear and definitive, they are easy to monitor, so it makes sense to use them.  Right?

Wrong.

Win rates are affected by a number of factors, several of which are out with the control of the bid team.   These include:

  • Bid strategy
  • Quality of the responses
  • Price
  • Position in the market
  • Market dynamics
  • Competitor’s approach

When entering a new or crowded market, a supplier’s win rates are always going to be lower than when demand outstrips supply.  When the company cannot develop a strong win theme or provide a competitive price, the win rate will suffer.

Having recognised that there are many constituent parts to a successful bid process, the next step is to select those over which the bid team have control and can therefore be held accountable.  These will vary according to the structure of your organisation and levels of responsibilities.

Some ideas and options for bid team measures are discussed below.

Win Rates

Win Rates are still a useful metric and can take the form of “win rate by financial value” (rather than by number of bids), “increasing win rates by x% p.a.” or “win rate on must-win opportunities”.  In the latter example, there is an assumption that the strategic process identifies a sensible and realistic number of opportunities.

Efficiency

Time and resources are limiting factors in many bid processes, so targeting the bid team with improving efficiency may be useful.  This can be quantitative measures such as “number of bookable hours”, “amount of overtime needed” or “amount of re-work required”.  The targets can also be on qualitative areas of efficiency such as “effective file organisation” or “library material created”.

Some companies dovetail bid team targets with those of other staff inputting to responses, for example “number of review iterations required”.

Scoring

If your bids and tenders receive scoring, you may be able to track trends for individual questions.  This will allow you to identify areas that require improvement or need to retain their position, so another measure could be “increase average scores in team structure sections by x%”.  You can also set a zero limit for bids which are eliminated during evaluation due to compliance issues.

Company Goals

Bid and tender teams cannot operate in isolation so ensure their targets are linked to departmental or organisational ones.  As an example, if the company is opening a new service line, the bid team’s targets for this specific service can be set differently to other services lines.    If the company is totally dependent on retaining existing customers, ensure the focus of targets is on re-bids as opposed to new bids.

Exclusions

To use targets and KPIs effectively, it is important that some factors are excluded from the assessment.  These will be the areas over which the team have no control such as bids which are withdrawn by the buyer and non-compliant bids which are submitted in an attempt to open a dialogue with the buyer.

Monitoring the Measures

Measures must be realistic and able to flex if circumstances change.  If bid team personnel change and key experience is lost, the outputs will decrease.  On the other hand, if market conditions change, it may be necessary to increase the targets.

The bid team need appropriate resources and management support to ensure workload is not overwhelming.  Unlike some other jobs where deadlines can be slipped or work elements omitted, bidding requires 100% adherence to timescales and requirements.  As a result, when put under excessive pressure, the only area left to give is quality and that will result in KPI targets not being met.

Measurement is an on-going process which needs to be transparent and open to all.  If it is going to result in accurate measures, the process must be fair and the inputs must be visible and agreed.  Quantitative measures are unlikely to be disputed if they have been set up properly.  Qualitative measures can also work well if guidance for completion is given.