The Proposal Manager’s Four Uses of Competition Analysis

  |  April 1, 2009

Bid / No-Bid Decisions
Teaming Arrangements
Anti-competition Themes in Proposals
Cost / Price Decisions

Bid / No-Bid Decisions
Before the proposal effort even begins, and well before the solicitation comes out, the Marketing Manager should have enough information about the competition to tell our proposal team many things. WHO is likely to bid, and WHAT that competition’s presence means for not only our own chances of winning, but what type of firm the customer believes is best qualified to solve his problem. For example, if you view the solution to the customer’s problem as a TECHNICAL challenge, but the majority of the competitors are known for MANAGEMENT skills, you may not understand what the customer wants to buy! In addition, if there are more than about four primes planning to bid for a single-award competition, that’s an indication that there are too many. I believe that, for most competitions, by the time of the release of the solicitation, no more than about four companies have a realistic chance to win.

Teaming Arrangements
The same information we obtained in support of the bid / no-bid decision can be used to determine our own best teaming strategy. This could be the best set of subcontractors (if we’re the prime), and what team is the best fit for our skills (if we’ve determined NOT to prime, but accept a subcontractor role). Teaming arrangements are beyond the scope of this paper, as there is an art in establishing our own best interests, through teaming.

Anti-competition Themes in Proposals
Anti-competition themes compare our approach (which, in our proposal, we prove as being the best approach) with those who know about the competition. The Proposal Manager must seek every opportunity to include anti-competition themes within the proposal. Anti-competition themes are great, and may cast doubt in the customer’s mind on the correctness of the competition’s approach. However, the Proposal Manager MUST take special care that those points are accurate and relevant. An anti-competition theme that turns out to be inaccurate or misleading can in turn cast doubt on the validity of our own bid!

Cost / Price Decisions
Information about the prices offered on the existing contract (if this is a re-compete), or on similar contracts, by the competition, as available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), gives a estimate of the price to be offered by the competition. Then we can decide how to put together our own bid, positioning correctly our own bid, in relation to that offered by the competition.

Summary
Best practices says that the Proposal Manager should use competition analysis in at least these four ways.
 

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