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Business Development & Bidding Issues for Entrepreneurs and Senior Executives

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Aligning Bidding Priorities with Corporate Growth

Aligning Bidding Priorities with Corporate Growth
14-Jul-2014
As a senior executive, you're responsible for setting - and overseeing the attainment of - your organisation's corporate growth goals. 

Here's a question:  How informed are you on the component contracts that comprise the overall total of your organisation's business-under-pursuit? How certain are you that the priorities underpinning the prioritisation of current new-business pursuits are 100 percent aligned with the rationale held by your management team and your directors when you set the growth goals for your company or division?

Often, when developing the strategy for a high-value bid, I'll dig down - and backwards, so to speak - to understand a contract or project in the context of corporate growth goals. Too often, my observation resulting from such discussions is that the piece of business being bid for hardly seems a particularly strategic pursuit at all.

The criteria for selecting the pursuit has been applied by a range of parties and has, at best, been somewhat fuzzy. Reasons given for participating in a bid range from "economies of scale" and "we can't afford to lose this to a (specific) competitor", to "we want into that market", "we want to grow that business" and "we have excess capacity" . . . oh, and, even more simply, "we want it". 

Of course, any or all of these may be perfectly valid in any given instance - but, for the most part, they lack clarity, quantification, and a readily articulated supporting connection with board and senior management's expressed growth goals.

The following suggestions may be helpful.

(Initial) Senior Management Participation

It may be a valuable exercise for senior management to participate (at least initially i.e. upon release and in articulation of their higher-level goals) in drill-down, component-specific plans for on-the-ground implementation of their objectives. 

Please note I'm not, for one moment, mooting that senior executives become micromanagers or demoralise their division heads by telling them "how" to do the job. I'm simply suggesting that some early and initial integration of thought processes would go a long way to ensuring the business-hunters out at the sales coalface are on the same page as senior management, and that so also are all levels of management in between.

Upwards Explanation of Rationale 

It may be useful for board report contributions from sales divisions to include a specific underlying rationale for the pursuit of any contract or project above a specified value. 

These written contributions would:

(a) demonstrate the connection between the prize in question and corporate-level market growth goals;

(b) outline a holistic indication of the cost (both soft and hard) of pursuing the piece of business;

(c)  provide a realistic comparative projection of its ROI, and 

(d)  provide commentary on any sacrificed opportunity cost resulting from other business not pursued or from which focus or resources were withdrawn. 

In summary, clarifying and articulating corporate and business development goals helps ensure priority is placed on identifying and pursuing the opportunities and bids that most directly support those bigger picture objectives.  And periodically (if not regularly) checking in with sales and business development teams (at all levels) to ensure the higher-level imperatives and objectives are reflected in the trenches (and in bidding endeavours) helps ensure the organisation stays aligned from top to bottom.