I spend a lot of time working as a bid coach to help large infrastructure contractors, constructors, designers and other service providers win bids.   There are many critical ingredients to success which I have outlined over the course of other articles in this blog but one of the major ones is the choosing the right partners in the first place.

Partners are partners right?  They all have the same capability, skills, expertise don’t they?  Wrong.  They are very different not so much in the What but the Why and the How.  Why are they are wanting to work with you and how they approach collaboration on the project with you and the client?

Choose the wrong partners that misalign with your why and how will lead to pain and heartache at some stage of the bid or project.   Misaligned on the commercials, not being open and honest with each other or worse is damaging your reputation with the client or other stakeholders due to non-delivery or conflict.

Choosing the right partners is all about understanding and aligning on expectations.    Here are some of the key questions and areas to explore to ensure you pick the right partner to design and deliver a winning bid and project:

  • What are their expectations of you working together?
  • What is important to then not only for the bid but also the project?
  • How do they like to communicate?  How often?  Where and when?
  • What do they commit to?  What resources, capability, expertise?
  • What outcomes are they looking to achieve?
  • Who are the key leaders that will drive the successful outcomes you are looking to achieve together?
  • How will we deal with challenges and areas of conflict?
  • Can they work as one team?  Is a best for project approach to resolve challenges something they can commit to?
  • Where have they demonstrated one team behaviours and working collaboratively with clients and other partners on other projects?

You can’t ask a horse to climb a tree.  Nor can you ask a partner to change their spots, approach and their motivation for working with you during a bid or a project.

Ask the right questions up front.  Do your homework on how they work, what motivates them and what is important.  You will save a lot of pain and heartache for all through this small amount of work upfront and you will make sure your relationship with key partners lasts longer than most marriages.   Divorce on projects is an expensive exercise but so is staying together because you feel you have to!