How often do you team with a partner organisation (or multiple partners) to deliver a bid submission? Your organisation might only team on a complex, strategic bid, or you may partner on any bid where you feel you need a little extra oomph or sparkle.
One of the key questions at the early bid pursuit decisions is whether you can deliver all the client’s requirements on your own. You should answer the need to partner question honestly for every opportunity, and in comparison to your known (and unknown) competitors. Can you deliver all the requirements as a sole bidder, or are there gaps in expertise or experience for which you need a partner firm(s)? And if the latter, should you lead or contribute in that relationship? What are the relative strengths and weaknesses in both approaches? Which gives you the best win probability against the client’s requirements? The APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK) provides a template to help you carry out this exercise.
Fast forward a few days and you’ve conducted your appraisal, know who you need to partner with, and have agreed to team up. How do you actually decide who leads the bid? Who will be responsible for leading the bid production, submission and relationship for this opportunity?
According to the BOK: “There is a complicated, delicate balance of strategy and tactics required to assemble a winning team. While an effective teaming strategy can significantly improve a bidder’s win probability, a poorly executed strategy can create serious performance, reputation, legal, and financial problems.”
With this in mind, your bid lead should be the partner with strongest relationship with the client, the most relevant demonstrable experience, or the organisation who will be responsible for the majority of deliverables/requirements. For each teaming decision, you should assess the opportunity in detail and choose a bid lead for the right reasons. You should not pick a lead party simply because it’s one or the other’s ‘turn’, or the opportunity came into them (either directly, or through their registration on a client portal).
Imagine your client is procuring for a new software solution, with a requirement for underlying MI analysis. You can deliver all the requirements in the ITT, but partnering with a specialist MI firm will give you an edge. Who would lead? If you’ve worked with the MI firm before, and last time you led the bid, it might be tempting to let them lead to ‘even it out’. However, to the client, this is likely to be the wrong decision. Put yourself in the position of evaluator. Would you not wonder why the firm who would deliver the majority of the work is not leading on the bid?
While you may not need to do this on all bids, there are numerous formal structures you could set up, such as the traditional prime/sub, joint ventures (where a new legal entity is established), or a partnership/alliance where each party contracts with the client. Whether you go formal or more informal, you should negotiate a teaming agreement as early as possible (if you don’t already have one in place with the partner firm(s)), setting out the legal, operational and financial aspects of the relationship.
There should always be a clear rationale on who leads the bid. Which lead organisation offers the maximum competitive advantage and highest win probability? Which makes the most sense to the client’s specific opportunity? Don’t just hand off the lead because you led last time. You could more damage putting forward the wrong team than not partnering at all.