The Development Source

How Should You Decide Not to Bid?

As Joyce Loegel of Proposal Prose LLC points out, you should include a solid bid/no bid procedure in your business development process to avoid wasting precious time and resources on government proposals with a low probability of success.

The bid/no bid analysis should begin early in the business development process, if possible.  However, I have been on proposal efforts where we started developing the proposal and then were told to abort the effort by senior managers.  This approach should be avoided, if possible.

According to Loegel, companies should consider the following kinds of questions when making a bid/no bid decision:

  • Does it fit our company’s business plan?
  • Are we the incumbent?
  • If not, what evidence do we have that we can unseat the incumbent?
  • Do we have a good relationship with the client?
  • Do we understand the client’s goals and issues?
  • Is the Request for Proposal (RFP) consistent with our expectations?
  • Do we have the qualifications to successfully bid?
  • Do we have support from senior management?
  • Do we have a committed proposal team with the right personnel and resources?
  • How do we compare to the competition?

Once your company decides to bid, there is still an opportunity to abort the proposal development process by asking yourself these questions:

  • Have amendments to the RFP changed the scope and requirements in ways that put us at a disadvantage?
  • Once we have identified a solution to the problem identified in the RFP, is it likely to be highly competitive?
  • Once the preliminary pricing was done, is our price competitive?
  • Have any new and powerful competitors decided to bid?

Depending on the answers to these questions, there may be good reasons to begin a proposal and then drop it.  Sometimes, a decision to not bid or abort a proposal effort makes good sense. 

As Proposal Managers, you are not likely to be answering these questions by yourself.  But it is your obligation to tell senior managers that you think that your company has a low chance of success.  Trust a good proposal process and put the best interests of your company first, and you will be able to provide valuable advice about whether to bid or not.


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