BRS has had the pleasure of working with our clients over many years on the bidding and winning of large infrastructure projects. Our clients invest a lot of time, money and energy into winning these bids with their clients. It is a tough game as the one prize is winning the bid which means significant time and effort finishing second can really only provide lessons learnt and feedback to improve the next bid. The cost of discipline in taking the right approach to winning the bid is less than the regret of looking back and thinking we did not put out total effort in winning the bid.
Given this, winning bids require a total team commitment notwithstanding the other priorities all infrastructure leaders and team members inevitably juggle when committing to a bid. It is particularly time and cost intensive with various challenges encountered along the way in bringing together joint ventures and partners to build a high performing bid team. It is often about the journey, not just the destination as collaborative contracts require the development of not just the proposal to the client, but the evaluation of your team’s potential and ability to work with the client. Building a high performing team requires a total commitment to the prize of winning the bid but also taking the client along for the journey through an interactive procurement process. The evaluation process requires a fine balance between the development of people and delivering outcomes which the bid team need to be mindful of right from the start.
In parallel to the work BRS does, I have had the pleasure of being part of a coaching programme as a business owner which has helped me learn new skills to help grow BRS. It has been through a company called Strategic Coach with Dan Sullivan which can be found at www.strategiccoach.com. It has been a terrific programme which I have learnt a great deal, that we then apply to helping grow BRS and I would highly recommend it to other entrepreneurial business owners.
One of Dan’s models which has really resonated with me has been the 4C model. It applies to any situation and is particularly relevant around winning bids. The 4C’s stand for commitment, courage, capability and confidence. I will use this model with thanks to Strategic Coach to talk through its application to winning large infrastructure bids particularly when joint ventures and partnerships are needed to give confidence to clients that you can successfully deliver their project outcomes.
The 4C’s model as it relates to winning large infrastructure bids from my perspective is as follows:
- You need to choose the right partners in your joint venture or consortium and be 100% committed to them. The right partners make or break the bid team both from a culture and capability perspective;
- 100% commitment from every joint venture partner or consortium members is critical. You cannot be 80 or 90% committed. Totally committed teams win large infrastructure bids. It is a critical ingredient to success and often a significant reason as to why we did not win a bid;
- The right resources for the right roles is a critical part of commitment. Each joint venture or consortium members needs to put their best resources to the table particularly on significant bids and ensure they are committed from a time and energy perspective. This includes ensuring they have sufficient to win the bid and not be half committed due to having to do a full time job in their home organisation. Free up your best people to focus on winning the bid;
- They ensure they allocate the right people at all levels of the organisation to govern and lead the bid. Constant realignment of the team, challenge and innovation and the appropriate governance at the right times is needed by senior leaders. This is commitment through actions rather than words which builds trust in ensuring we say what we are going to do; and
- There is also a need to commit to learning and growth. Not all bids will be won. There are other great competitor teams and organisations equally committed to winning the bid. We need to play the long game in ensuring that we learn from each bid and get better. Constant improvement and reinvention is critical to sustainably win more than our share of large infrastructure bids over the long game. Learn from the feedback from previous bids to make sure we are listening to the client.
- Courage follows commitment. The ability to be courageous in winning a large infrastructure bid is critical and often overlooked;
- This plays out in the team we select, the resources we put on the bid, the ability to have challenging conversations both internally and within your organisation and at a governance level of the bid. It also means a focus on best for bid decisions rather than best for your organisation which is often challenging but sorely needed;
- Courage is also about the constructive environment we create. Are we developing the right behaviours and are we walking the talk? Are we having the courageous conversations when we are not right from the most senior people in the bid team to all the team?
- Courage extends to putting the right leaders in the right roles on the bid. Constructive leadership is critical to successful bid teams. Have the courage to challenge not putting the senior technical people in to leadership roles. Challenge the team’s leadership skills and whether they can create the right environment for the bid to be successful. Technical and bid leadership skills are different and both important roles in successful bid teams. We tend to value the technical skills and the solution finding over the leadership and people development. This is wrong in my opinion and does not lead to winning bids; and
- Courage also plays out in how we write the bid, allocate resources through to how we also challenge the bid teams to drive innovation and challenge. We need great questions, challenging of the status quo and ensuring we work with the client to collaborate rather than narrow down to the solution. Be prepared to be courageous rather than trying to keep people happy. Keeping people happy does not win bids.
- Capability is a critical element of winning a large infrastructure bid. We need to build the team, our proposal and our approach over the course of the procurement process. It requires a focus on learning and growth and the development of the team to show our team potential;
- Capability is also about the resources, people, innovation and challenge we bring. We focus on the customer and make sure our solution and approach is heavily focussed on demonstrating how our capability will solve the client’s problems;
- Capability is also about helping our client become a mature and intelligent infrastructure delivery agency. How can we help build their skills and capabilities in driving value for money outcomes? This transfer of knowledge is part of our value proposition in working collaboratively with our clients; and
- We are also focussed on capability development of our people and our industry. Every person will develop in their roles and each joint venture partner or consortium member will develop through working with other partners. This needs to be front and centre in ensuring we bring this value to our client.
- Confidence does not come before the other 3C’s. It is earnt and developed through the work we put in to developing the bid team over the course of the procurement process. Confidence grows through belief in our winning bid strategies and the team we have brought together to win the bid;
- Confidence is also through planning and preparation to win the bid. We do the small things well, we work as one team and focus on the client and what is best for them. Planning well in advance is critical to the other 3C’s as your bid won’t be a priority unless you make it a priority in people’s calendars in advance;
- Confidence is also about the feedback we get from each stage of the procurement process. We get shortlisted in the EOI stage which builds confidence. We have a fantastic interactive with our client to work through our approach to their problems which builds confidence. We create a great team culture which encourages innovation, ideas and approaches which builds confidence. Confidence is built one interaction at a time which is important to consider. A silver bullet does not build confidence nor does focussing on our past successes or interactions with the client; and
- Confidence is a by-product of doing the right things at the right times with our team and our client through a procurement process. Fundamentals and good habits build the confidence needed to have the belief needed to win the bid. We need a focus on doing the small things well and receiving regular feedback that we are on the right path.
As mentioned at the start of the blog, I believe winning bids is a hard game but a rewarding one if it executed well. The 4C model above helps us all understand what we need to do to win the bid but also focus on the journey needed from all members of our team. The order matters in that total commitment allows us to be courageous in our approach to winning the bid. Through this commitment and courage, we build the team capability to then have the belief and confidence to win the bid. The approach allows us to hone in on where we may be lacking in a key area or leverage an area required at the right time to win a bid.