Articles United Kingdom
28 March 2023 4 mins read

Defence bids: get an edge on the competition

When it comes to bidding for defence contracts, it’s a complicated process with very small margins between winning and losing. That’s why it’s essential to find ways to get an edge on the competition.

Here are three impactful techniques that can help you win more contracts in the defence sector.

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Pre-mortems: doing something about the ‘if only…’ before the loss

When we receive the ‘unsuccessful tender’ letter, human nature makes us think, “if only we’d done something different”. But by this point, it’s too late. A pre-mortem gets us to identify those ‘if only’s’ earlier in the process, so we can actively do something about it.

Pre-mortems are used in high-performance industries for a reason: they have a significant impact on results. Pre-mortems are especially impactful in the defence industry:

  1. High-Stakes Environment: Defence contracts are often high-stakes, multi-year projects with significant financial, operational, and reputational risks. The consequences of losing a bid can be especially severe in the defence industry, where the market is highly competitive and the margins between winning and losing can be so slim. A pre-mortem helps to identify and mitigate these risks early on in the process, improving the chances of success.
  2. Complex Requirements: Defence projects often have complex requirements that need to be met, including technical specifications, quality standards, and regulatory compliance. A pre-mortem can help to identify potential issues with these requirements and ensure that the bid team has the necessary expertise and resources to solution to them.
  3. Collaboration and Coordination: Defence projects often require collaboration and coordination between multiple teams, stakeholders, and partners. A pre-mortem can help to ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals, and that potential issues are identified and addressed before they become major problems. This can help to improve communication, reduce duplication of effort, and enhance overall project efficiency and effectiveness.

Conducting a pre-mortem at the start of each major phase of an opportunity can help you re-prioritise threats and increase your chances of success.

Evaluation: maximising the scores

When you’re trying to win a contract, every point counts, so it’s crucial to do everything you can to maximise your score. Most companies perform internal reviews before submitting a proposal, but that’s mostly about making sure the solution is viable and deliverable or the proposal has the right ‘win themes’. Evaluation is a different ballgame. Evaluation serves as a more forensic assessment of compliance with the tender and scoring criteria set by the customer. By providing individual section scores and identifying missing elements, evaluation enables the bidder to prioritise and improve their proposal’s overall score.

There are several reasons why performing independent evaluation is particularly impactful in the defence sector:

  • Objectivity: An independent evaluator can provide an unbiased assessment of proposals, which is especially important in the defence sector where sensitive and complex requirements are often involved. Independent evaluation ensures that proposals are evaluated based on their merits rather than any external factors, such as relationships or previous engagements.
  • Improved quality: Independent evaluation helps to identify areas where proposals can be improved, leading to higher quality submissions. This is particularly important in a highly-competitive sector like defence, where small improvements can make a significant difference in the outcome of a bid.
  • Compliance: The sector is heavily regulated, and proposals must meet strict compliance requirements. Independent evaluation ensures that proposals are compliant with these regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance issues arising later in the process.

PAS 360: Bid and Proposal Management

The PAS 360 is a new standard for bids and proposals that will be especially impactful in the defence sector. It will provide a framework for assessing and improving your performance, helping you to meet the high standards required by defence customers.

Developed by BidCraft in collaboration with the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the global Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP), this standard is the first of its kind to improve bidding maturity. By implementing PAS 360, your company can establish and continually enhance good working practices for bid and proposal management. This will lead to more effective and efficient bidding, with a greater focus on bidding to deliver rather than just bidding to win.

By conforming to PAS 360, you can assure buyers like the Ministry of Defence that your proposals are low-risk and technically, commercially, and financially viable. This is because the right people will be involved in developing the solution, and the appropriate internal governance will be in place before submission. You can demonstrate your commitment to high standards with PAS 360, and improve your chances of winning contracts in the defence sector.

The PAS 360 will be publicly available in 2023.

Get an edge

Winning contracts in the defence sector requires a combination of strategy, preparation, and expertise. By using techniques like pre-mortems, independent evaluation, and a bidding capability based on PAS 360, you can get an edge on the competition.