“If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.” Bill Shankly, Liverpool FC
This quote really resonates with me. Though used in a sporting context it offers, in my opinion, a hard and often brutal truth about working in the bid and proposal profession.
We are absolutely in the business of winning. How you are measured or managed doesn’t really matter unless you are winning – or at least winning enough to justify your cost to the business and shareholders.
Even a solid win rate isn’t always enough. I’ve worked in bid teams who were made redundant without a second thought because shareholders’ EBITDA expectations weren’t met – even though they were contributing millions of pounds to the organisation’s bottom line.
This experience has taught me bid teams should be as closely aligned to sales and business development teams as possible. Bid teams need to understand the overall business plan and take responsibility for their own commitments to the business. If you are not extrapolating how many winning bids are needed to ensure the business delivers its targets, you are not really aligned to where it is heading.
Creating and sustaining high-performance bid teams is an ever present challenge for most CEOs and Managing Directors. Organisations must adopt a balanced scorecard approach that considers a range of metrics to truly assess accomplishments. Quantitative metrics (such as revenue growth and profit margins) are no longer the sole (or accurate) indicators of team performance. Temperament, attitudes and emotional maturity, rather than education and skills, can often lead to sustained success. Qualitative factors (such as employee engagement, wellbeing and mental health, customer satisfaction, proposal debriefs, and learning reviews) are equally crucial.
Bid and proposal teams have some of the highest staff turnover rates of any profession. Have you assessed the impact of this on your organisation’s success? If turnover is not a key metric, perhaps it should be. In our last salary survey, 29% of respondents had changed companies during the last year and 44% had changed within the last two years. 36% stated they expected to change organisations within the next 12 months. For reference, the typical UK annual staff turnover rate across all industries is 15%.
What does success look like for you and your team? If you can’t easily answer this question, the 20 fantastic articles in BQ16 can help. They offer more than 25 different metrics for measuring and assessing performance. Our contributors also share their knowledge and experience of what worked and what didn’t.
In our continuous pursuit of bid excellence, we must accept and understand that success is an ongoing journey, not an end game. Coming second in bidding is painful (and sometimes very costly) – but it is often a necessary step on the journey to coming first.
In this issue
Sarah’s engaging article “Metrics and Me” embarks on a personal journey through metrics.
Mike Reader’s article “Gouda Performance Management Makes Building Great Teams a Brie-ze” is anything but cheesy. It shows how organisational ambition can be metaphorically transformed into a wedge of Swiss cheese.
In “Proof Points”, Nigel Hudson takes a more individual view of measuring bidding success and how proof points will evidence your value.
Graham Ablett’s article “Measuring for Success” describes bid measurement options and the seven key questions he created to predict winnability.
Jon Williams serves up a comparison between a wonderful proposal and a meal of the finest quality. But was it missing a key ingredient?
Kathryn Potter’s discusses measuring success as a contractor/freelancer is described in her article “How Long is a Piece of String (and Which Piece of String Are We Talking About)?”.
Game on! Darrell Woodward’s article “Crafting a Winning Saga: Play the Game of Professional Growth” offers a credible demonstration of how gaming’s progression structure can be applied to individual career growth.
In “Success is About More Than Metrics” Charlotte Rees explains the three components she relies on to measure team success.
“Of course we should measure success! Otherwise what’s the f*****g point!” is the powerful title quote for Lorraine Baird’s article. She declares the importance of targets and explains four different measurement areas.
Javier Escartin has followed his own rule on writing only about what you know in his article “Measuring Bidding as What It Is: Sales”.
In “Managing Performance, Measuring Success”, Kat Wyon acknowledges that win rate is her “magic metric” for measuring bid team success..
Jeremy Brim’s article “Seeing the Bigger Picture” discusses the factors that inhibit standard performance measurement and management and provides an approach to taking a more holistic view.
Michael Brown describes bidding as both captivating and multi-faceted in his article “Unveiling Success in Bidding: Beyond Win Rates and the ROI Dilemma”.
In “The Never-ending Journey to Success”, Pippa Birch focuses on how performance metrics have impacted her approach to both team development and measuring success.
“Not Everything in Wonderland is Healthy” by Holger Garden opens with an exchange about travel to an undefined destination. Where will it take you?
Anna Maysey-Wells suggests a holistic approach to performance management in her article “Winning – but at what cost?” She explains the importance of health, wellbeing and a supportive work environment.
“Agile Graphic Development” by Mike Parkinson supports applying Agile methodologies to proposals, specifically on proposal graphic development.
“Measuring to Win or Just Measuring Your Wins?” by Larissa Cornelius will help ensure you don’t miss out by only measuring win rate.
Chris Whyatt traces a path between the historian Tacitus and John F Kennedy in his article “Success has many fathers…”.
Paul Deighton’s title quote “In God we trust, all others bring data” opens his article about Daniel H. Pink’s three key motivators driving work performance: autonomy, mastery and purpose.