As the incumbent you are in a unique position that gives you an advantage over your competitors in winning your recompete:
- You know the existing contract and customer ‘inside and out’, so can show why your new solution exactly meets your customer’s needs.
- And you have huge amounts of evidence about your performance on the existing contract to show the customer you are the best option for the next contract.
Of course, your solution, and submission should be focused on the customer’s future needs, and not just repeat your previous solution. But being able to draw on the knowledge and evidence of delivery on the existing contract still gives you real advantages.
Data and information from the existing contract will enable you:
- To design a better new solution, based on detailed information about the contract, the customer and your costs and capabilities
- To provide real evidence in your submission of how well you have delivered in the existing contract
- To give evidence in your submission about how you will deliver a better solution in the next contract
- To show you understand the contract (customer needs, volumes, variations / growth in volumes etc.) better than your competitors could
- To support the specific proposals you are making in your solution
- Particularly, to provide evidence in each your answers to RFP questions that proves you are the best supplier with the best solution for the customer.
Wasting your advantage
Unfortunately, for many bid teams this information doesn’t become available, either in enough time, or enough detail, to use in the recompete. There are some common reasons for this:
- Preparation for the recompete starts too late, and there isn’t time to collate the information before writing answers and deadlines for submission take over.
- Data has been lost, forgotten, or is held in difficult to collate formats.
- The type of information that would really support the rebid was never gathered. For instance information of customer satisfaction, or the impact of work done on the contract in helping the customer meet their strategic goals.
- There is a lack of understanding by those who hold the data of the urgency and benefits of finding, sharing, collating and analysing the data with the bid team.
- Staff and managers near the front line of the contract, who have useful information, are often not asked and don’t realize what they are delivering is of real interest and use in the recompete. The improvements or initiatives delivered for the customer would be great evidence of innovation to the recompete team. However, the proposal team will not be able to use this information unless the operations team is able to capture, organize, and preserve it.
- Occasionally information is withheld from the bid team as it might be seen as embarrassing for the operational team (for example poor performance, or a previous issue in delivery at some point in the contract), or the view is taken that the customer has forgotten about it, so it is irrelevant and the bid team don’t need to know.
How to make the most of your advantage and win your Recompete
To avoid these problems the bid team should:
- Start engaging early with the operations team and departments that hold information on the contract. ‘Early’ means at least 6 months before the RFP is due to be published. That gives time to get data, analyze and check it.
- Look at the data in different ways to understand its meaning. For example, take monthly data and put it into a timeline across the whole contract period to see the long term trend, perhaps collate two different sets of data together to see links and build a more powerful story.
- Example: A bid team found that delivery for the contract they were recompeting had consistently met the KPI’s set throughout the contract’s 4 year life. So far, so boring. But looking at separate financial records, they realized that the volume of work had more than doubled during the period of the contract. So KPI’s had been consistently met, even though volume of demand had doubled. This was more interesting – it told of flexibility, an ability to deliver change and increased volumes with no impact on performance. Looking at a third set of records, the team realized that charging for the contract, while it had increased, had not doubled in line with the increase in volumes. So, not only had the contract delivered consistent performance against KPI’s while volumes doubled – but the price per unit to the customer had actually been reduced at the same time. That was a stronger story. But one that would not have been ‘discovered’ without the time and inclination to look through a range of data sources with an eye to the recompete.
- Focus on finding and collating information, initially with an open mind – looking at what the data tells, rather than simply looking for a specific answer (and potentially missing something more important).
- Spend time with those in the operation, explaining the benefits of getting qualitative and well as quantitative information for the recompete. You never know what might emerge.
- Be willing to put in place new measures or data collection, even if you only have a few months to harvest information. Customer or end user satisfaction surveys are often an example of this. Too often they haven’t been completed, or haven’t been followed up during the contract delivery stage. Even if the data collected at the ‘last minute’ is less than ideal, it is better than nothing and often can be used in the rebid to some benefit.
- Look at specific aspects of the solution being put forward for the new bid and seek out information and evidence that will support why that solution is best for the customer, fits their needs, and is deliverable.
- When the RFP does come out, revisit the data collected to see what can be used as evidence to support answering specific questions set by the customer.
The Difference Between Winning and Losing Is In Your hands
There is a huge difference between a submission that has clear, detailed and relevant evidence to back up each part of the solution and answers, vs one that has little evidence, or just vague assertions of ability and performance. And the difference in scores achieved by each can be equally large. Often it is the difference between winning and losing.
As we said at the start, as the incumbent you have a huge advantage in terms of the data available to you vs your competitors.
But it is an advantage easily wasted if you don’t take the time and effort to use it.
Note: Nigel Thacker, is a proposal professional living in the United Kingdom and is one of the greatest authorities in the industry on recompetes.