The Major Bid Management process is wildly analogue today
The bid management process is of critical importance to the financial performance of our customers – especially the ones active in business markets or the government sector. Bid management often resides within sales or as a side function within finance departments and companies have taken some steps to optimise the bid management process over the years.
However increased competitive pressure resulting in ever shorter RfQ timelines and higher regulatory as well as data protection requirements have torn these efforts into pieces. Where – from a bottom-line perspective – less important business processes have lined up on top of CIOs and CDOs digital transformation agendas.
Sales reps hand in RfP and RfQ documents in an unstructured, unprioritized way by Email, Fax or printed via inhouse mail. Critical deadlines are communicated randomly and recurrent milestones rarely managed in a coherent manner. Established personal relationships and the ability to shortcut business governance often promise a much higher likelihood to get things done and feedback within the required timelines, than sticking to the process with the risk of getting delayed feedback due to missing transparency.
As a result involved departments like technology or finance drown in an information overload and are rushed to provide feedback on short notice. Bid management functions find it hard to get the required buy-in and orchestrate bids through the broader business context. And top management last but certainly not least are left blind-folded when required to prioritize financial bid opportunities and risks with all other company priorities.
Untapped opportunities when truly digitalizing Major Bid Management
From numerous customer projects we have executed over the last couple of years, we have come to the firm believe that the potential of digitalizing the major bid management process is immense and payback periods of potentially involved investments are possible within month if not weeks! A couple of learnings we would like to share and pitfalls we would like to highlight:
- Shit in / Shit out: If you digitalize a bad process you end up with a bad digital process. Successful customers have taken the quest of digitalizing their major bid process as a starting point to re-evaluate the existing mostly analogue process. By putting a conceptual process phase at the beginning of the project they where able to decommission redundant layers in the process, streamline decision making and reissuing a much leaner corporate governance on bid management.
- Single source of data: By choosing Uffective our customers enabled their employees to shift from Fax, Email and print documents to a state-of-the art cloud based decision making toolset. They created a single point of truth where all information regarding bid management came together in one transparent place. Furthermore became the history of bids executed in the past available all involved employees, which has not been the case before. We saw increases in employee satisfaction when asked about “being supported by their employer in the way of working”.
- Cristal clear transparency: Bids became radically transparent to all involved departments. By establishing digital workflows formerly unconnected departments became aware of upcoming bids with prior notice, making potential resource constrains visible as soon as possible. Roles and deputy functions where implemented with the result that each colleague understood his or her required accountability at any point in the process speeding up bid execution.
- Priorization for Impact: Management function became enabled to speed-up or deprioritize bids regarding their impact on business strategy and commercial impact. But not only that: Some of our customers, who also manage their P&E investment portfolios via the Uffective platform where able to judge and evaluate the importance of a specific bid (potential short term commercial impact) with or against a proposed development project (potential long term commercial impact).
- Get ahead of competition: The Bid/No-Bid decision clearly being the most important one was taken much faster in any instance, freeing up critical resources early in the entire process. Customers report that they where able to speed up their decision making in the bid management process via the various bid management stages by 30% in average and therefore became enabled to participate in more bids.
Even more to come: Major Bid Management hits Machine Learning
We anticipate that Machine Learning (ML) will further boost a companies ability to successfully execute the bid management process and outperform their respective competition. The Uffective platform already today incorporates ML in a broad range of use-cases like the predictability of a projects success early on in the funding process or scenario planning.
In terms of bid management ML will automatically learn from previous bid successes and failures to inform the actual bid decision at hand. By incorporating a broad range of attributes in the bid scenarios proposal and building linkages between them, which have been unconsidered before, bid managers will be informed about how the most ideal bid set-up looks like from a resource as well as from a financial offer perspective to win a deal.
There will never be a 100% certainty to win a major bid. However by taking advantages of power of the digital process transformation in combination with the advance of machine learning capacities supporting modern bid management processes, companies dramatically increase their chances to win.