Win Strategy General Guidelines — Strategy Definition and Planning

  |  October 7, 2009

The purpose of this section is to define content and general format needs for presenting a business opportunity Win Strategy Plan to the Chief Executive and Top Management staff for their decision and authority to proceed.  This plan serves to initiate three actions:  approval, commitment of resources, and communication of directions. Document length should not exceed 25 pages; oral presentation should not exceed 30 minutes exclusive of discussion.

Win Strategy Plan
This plan identifies and documents the analytical material, rationale, specific actions, responsibilities, and milestones that will enable actual performance to be audited against the plan.  It communicates top management’s views and directions regarding solutions for customer needs, and provides management and marketing guidance to the program and proposal preparation team.  Each element in the proposal itself will be developed to fully support the approved Win Strategy Plan. Note that this plan must be dynamic, and must be updated immediately as new information and events occur. The plan comprises three parts: Part A is your presentation of your four analyses. Part B is your proposed strategies. Part C is your proposed approach to continue pursuit of this opportunity and top-management’s approval and commitment of resources.

Part A — Presentation of Analyses
Your presentation of the four analyses should follow something like the following:

This part identifies the opportunity and summarizes the pertinent results of your Win Strategy Analyses.

This is a brief, broad description of the opportunity, financial considerations, sales potential, prime recommendation, and your company’s probability of winning.

Briefly summarize the key elements of your Opportunity Analysis.

Briefly summarize the key elements of your Customer Analysis.

Briefly summarize the key elements of your Competitor Analysis.

Briefly summarize the key elements of your Self Analysis.

This section provides an opportunity to discuss interactions between other categories, or concerns not otherwise covered.

This section should address specific issues that need attention, such as additional information requirements, identification of candidate teaming partners and subcontractors, new hire disciplines, IR&D requirements, Customer Contact Plan, and specific actions needed by your top-management.

Identify the major conclusions reached as result of the strategy analyses. This should re-emphasize your optimistic, pessimistic, and most probably win likelihoods and your recommendation to continue to pursue this opportunity, to merely watch for additional developments, or to terminate your interest in the matter.

If your conclusion is to terminate this pursuit, then you should document this decision, file all information for future reference, and this will be the end of the matter.

Part B  — Presentation of Strategic Approach

If your conclusion from Part A is to pursue the opportunity further, this part identifies your company strategies to be used in order to yield the highest probability of success.  Strategy statements should be clear enough for subsequent tactical planning to meet your company’s objectives.

As the strategy plan matures and is periodically updated, it will develop well defined and approved strategy guidance into a tactical proposal plan or guide, with clear specifications for tasks, milestones, responsible people, and procedures.

Many companies think that their win strategy is focused only upon the technical (and sometimes management) issues. In actual fact, a complete strategic approach should encompass all areas that can influence your winning the contract, which include at least the five areas identified below.

Remember that an effective win strategy must meet three criteria: (1) It must be unique to you—if your customer doesn’t give you the contract, he won’t get this benefit. (2) It must be important to your customer—if it’s not important to him, he won’t care. (3) You must be able to prove, in your proposal, that you will deliver as promised at a reasonable/acceptable price—if not, then your customer won’t believe you, and you will lose.

This strategy has to do with the opportunity’s effect upon your business. If it doesn’t relate to your business niche, then why should you pursue it? Therefore, you should specify and rank your business objectives and expectations in terms of the maximal involvement and benefits you expect to achieve, what you believe would be optimal, and what is the minimum that you would accept. This can include pursuing the opportunity as prime, as teammate, or as a subcontractor. It can also include your financial expectations such as large profits, modest profits, break even, or buy-in to establish your credentials for future business of this type.

In this section you should specify the key elements and approach of your proposed offering or design concept (if known) and why it constitutes the best match with customer needs.  Otherwise specify those system or product characteristics that are the probable key to matching customer needs.  Which two or three of these should be emphasized and exploited?

In this section, describe the political environment and identify key player attitudes. Strategic activities to implement these strategies are normally the purview of your top-management or marketing people. This can involve key DoD personnel, Congressional representatives, Administration officials, ultimate users, and local political jurisdictions. Usually these contacts cannot be established over night, and must be carefully initiated and nurtured over a long period of time to warrant the mutual trust needed. Be aware that you should also carefully consider “what’s in it for them!” I don’t mean bribing, of course—but be alert to legal benefits that you can provide, such as working on re-election campaigns, joint articles in technical and management journals, joint research programs, and so forth.

In this section you should identify any discriminators and any deficiencies to be overcome, and your plan to exploit your discriminators and overcome your deficiencies. Specify what needs to be done to create the climate necessary for your company to win.  This includes establishing your credibility, identifying and ranking factors believed to be influential with the customer for working the political scene, and for assessing and defeating competitors.

Provide price-risk curves with appropriate recommendations for pricing.  Such recommendations should include an ROI analysis.  In addition, it should address side benefits that could consist of long-range benefits of penetrating a new market or offering the precursor of a new product line.  The probable customer price and competitor price should also be considered. What do you think your customer will accept? What is your optimal price, and what is the lowest price that you will accept. Are you confident that the expected price is stable, or is it likely to be reduced because of DoD funding reductions?

This section provides an opportunity for you to address any additional requirements or concerns not covered in the above sections.

Part C — Approval to Proceed and Commitment of Resources

Since strategic planning should begin when a business opportunity is first perceived; lack of acuity and completeness of information is usual this early in the planning stage.  Much of the data will be incomplete.  The initial presentation and planning document should specify at the very least what is to be done to obtain more complete information.  Note that approval of the early plan is not necessarily approval to bid—only approval to proceed to the next milestone.  It may be approval to study the opportunity in more depth, report findings, and formulate recommendations at some clearly defined milestone.
Information should be presented to the extent necessary to carry out the plan. Additional items should be added as needed. This section documents the decision to commit the company resources essential to success, and is presented in a “form” format.

Approval to Proceed and Commitment of Resources

          Who is in charge?
          Other key assignments: (list if known).
          Your company committed funds:             $   ________
          Other funds:                                         $   ________
          Total:                                                  $   ________
          Source(s) of Your company funds.
          Source(s) of other funds.
          Provide funding vs time graph.
          Total Man-months.
          Man-months by Departments  (List).
          Man-months from other sources: (list by team associate, subcontractor or other).
          Critical skills (List).
          Provide manpower vs time graph.
          Existing company facilities (describe requirements).
          Existing company capital equipment (list major required items).
          New company facilities or capital equipment required (describe, estimate cost and explain need).
          New outside facilities (describe requirement, estimate cost, and explain need).
          Prepare a chart schedule for the planning period and the follow-on effort, including key milestones,
          correlation with customer events, decision points, facility needs, and incremental funding gates if
          applicable. The decision should identify specific metrics and dates/events at which decisions
          should be made to continue pursuit with additional resources or to terminate pursuit.
          This section provides a place to add special requirements as necessary.
          Signature blocks and dates of approval.

This concludes this six-part series on structured strategic planning. Obviously you will adapt these guidelines to the way your company operates. Yes, a structured strategic planning and bid decision process is difficult, but wasting scarce B&P funds on unreachable goals is simply foolish—ask Don Quixote.

At least conduct rudimentary analyses along these guidelines for major programs. I advise my clients to do these, and I assist them in developing their Competition Data Base and Win Strategies.  Selfishly, I hope that you ignore these guidelines completely—if you are bidding against my client.


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