Bidding Go or No Go Decisions – the case for a strategic approach.

For many ambitious organisations, the euphoria of winning work through the tendering process is quickly countered by the issue of how to successfully deliver it. This is a real pain point in our current inflation fuelled and labour/material constrained environment. 

If you agree that work won but poorly performed is worse than work lost, should you be more circumspect in your pursuit of the current tendering spoils on offer? But on the flip side, work not tendered for is an opportunity lost. So do you bid for everything and if not, how do you choose where to invest your valuable bidding time and resources?

These diametrically opposed approaches represent the difference between an ad-hoc and strategic approach to tendering.

Ad-hoc tendering involves chasing every opportunity that presents itself. This wastes effort on bids that were never going to succeed – and compromises effort on those that should. Repeated losses represent pointless effort, and this has increasingly negative impacts on the morale of the work-winning staff involved. Externally, half-hearted, rushed or long-shot submissions create poor impressions with the very people you are trying to impress. Combined, these factors result in a lower tender win rate metric and a lower ROI for your overall tendering activities. Neither of these are good things.

In contrast, companies who take a more strategic approach to tendering make rational, structured and disciplined decisions about which opportunities are worth pursuing. This more considered approach is a sure way to win more often. As well as increasing your win rate, focussing on the right opportunities saves you time, money, and makes the whole tendering process far less stressful.


To help with your next bidding go or no go decision, here’s a simple process based on four key questions*. When asked and answered sequentially (and honestly), you will be much clearer about when (and when not) to bid. Through implementing this simple but effective process, you’ll be applying a more strategic approach to your tendering activities. 

1.    Is it real?

Can you satisfy yourself that the opportunity is real? Maybe there’s an incumbent supplier and clear signs that the purchaser is simply undertaking a price benchmarking exercise. Or maybe the opportunity relates to an early-stage initiative that doesn’t yet have the right political or financial support for it to get off the ground. It’s pointless bidding if the opportunity isn’t going to result in a real contract for someone.   

2.    Do you want it?

Does the opportunity truly align with your core business strategy? This can get tricky because many people will find many reasons why a particular bidding opportunity is ‘a perfect fit’. However, the decision about whether to bid or not should align tightly with your company’s strategy. If the opportunity doesn’t, don’t bid. Instead, focus your energy and critical tendering resources on opportunities that are relevant to your core business.

3.    Can you win it?

How well-positioned are you to win? One way to assess this is by understanding your relationship with the client – well before the request for tender document is issued to market. Is there a well-performing incumbent, because it’s a fact that good incumbents win more recompetes than they lose. Do you have a compelling competitive advantage based on strengths that your client will consider true discriminators? And do you have a clear and accurate understanding of your client’s goals, issues and biases – from their perspective? Your submission needs to deliver a clear solution based on the preferences, risks, hopes and fears of your client. This can only be done if you understand what their real needs are.

And don’t underestimate the internal capacity required to win.  Do you have the necessary corporate commitment and bidding resources? Putting together a half-baked submission at the last minute is not a recipe for sustained success. Companies who plan their bidding efforts win more often. They regard bidding as a calculated investment with a tangible return.

4.    Can you do it?

Assuming you win the contract, will you realistically be able to deliver on your promises? If you have serious doubts but proceed anyway, customer relationships can sour very quickly. At best, you may get away with it the first time. At worst, you’ll damage your brand, harm your reputation and effectively take yourselves out of the running for next time.


So you’ve made your bidding go/no go decision. What then? If bidding it is, then start planning – straight away. The reality is that bidding is becoming increasingly competitive and experienced bidding organisations start the process well before the request documents are released to market. So don’t procrastinate.

But if you decide not to bid, that’s not a sign of failure. It’s the result of a structured process that indicates the opportunity is not right for you at this time. So why chase it just because it’s there? Follow the process, accept the outcome and take the opportunity to craft a well-written no-bid letter. This will help build your company’s profile, position you better for future opportunities and help the vital incremental process of building buyer trust.   

This article was originally written by BidWrite for publication on the Total Facilities website.

*Source: Strategic Proposals,


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