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Improving the Odds When Playing B&P Poker (05-10-2002)

Most 'winner take all' procurements, be they monolithic contracts or IDIQ contract task orders, draw bids from at least 3 teams. The bottom line is always "if there are 'n' bidders, there will be 'n' - 1 losers." But, on the other hand, if you don't bid, you can't win.
Bid teams share the following attributes:
  • they have each convinced themselves that they have the approach, bid team, solution, customer standing, etc. to win the job; and
  • they have all decided to wager significant corporate resources for the chance to prevail.
Prudent business developers and their managers know that this is rarely enough and, accordingly, they don't leave matters there. Instead they continually strive to find ways of improving the probability of capturing the work, since, "It ain't over 'til it's over."
A tried and true means of improving your odds is to commission an independently-developed reality check study to help the capture team better understand the customer, the opportunity, the competition, and put your company's strengths and weaknesses into perspective. This type of independent analysis can also embrace pricing the job to win and, more importantly, how to make money after the award. When done correctly, this can help guard against quenching the thirst for new business by drinking one's own bath water.
For major competitive acquisitions, CAI/SISCo fills this role for clients on a strictly opportunity-exclusive basis for a modest fee. We do not seek to lead capture and pricing efforts (although we can put teams in place to do this) but we do expect to improve the odds of becoming the winner that takes all. We work to develop the nonpolitical, outsider's view of the overall competition for use as the proverbial 'other hand against which to clap' information such as capture and pricing team assumptions, constraints, teaming decisions, 'should price' estimates, and so forth.
Whenever an outside perspective on a competition is sought, business development management usually acts as arbiter to ensure that discrepancies between the internal and external 'views' are addressed. One reason is that 'lessons learned' need to be leveraged during the competition, not just after the award. To support this need, CAI/SISCo always provides a vigorous and reasoned defense for our findings. Our purpose, after all, is to confirm, disprove or improve the capture team's knowledge and understanding and, wherever and whenever possible, increase win probabilities for your B&P bets.
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