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What to do when you get a late start

It's about achieving what it will take to win and not how much time is available

The MustWin Process will not break if you start late. In fact, it tells you exactly what you need to do to get caught up.

  • Regardless of how much time is available, you still need to identify, assess, and achieve what it will take to win. Whether you can achieve it depends on how much time is left after you've identified and assessed it.
  • The MustWin Process accelerates these steps by providing the questions you need to answer and what you need to do.
  • The real question is do you have the information you need to win.
  • We recommend starting ahead of RFP release to provide time to gather this information.

What you need to do to catch up

What you need to accomplish does not change because you started late. You still need to do the same things, you just have less time to do them. Because the MustWin process tells you the questions you must answer and things you must do in order to be prepared, all you need to do is answer them quickly. It’s a bit like cramming for an exam, only worse.

You cannot get caught up by skipping steps like the Readiness Reviews or proposal planning. You should not simply start writing based on nothing more than the RFP unless you want to lose. The reason you need to complete the questions for the Readiness Reviews is that they lay the foundation for developing your bid strategies. The only thing worse than bidding at the last minute is bidding without any strategy for winning. The MustWin Process not only helps guide you to develop those strategies, but it helps make sure that you build the proposal document around them.

If you want the writing to implement your plans for winning, you need to make those plans before you start writing. Writing first and then trying to insert statements that help the proposal win in a later draft is a strategy that relies on the competition doing a worse job on their proposal than you are doing on yours. That is no way to ensure a win. The MustWin Process is based on building your proposal around your knowledge of what it will take to win. You can’t do that without thinking it through first. And you cannot do it reliably without validating it. You cannot skip steps if you want to win.

Is it too late to bid?

See also:
Pre-rfp readiness reviews

If you cannot answer the questions, then objectively you are not ready to bid. Your odds of winning if you are not ready are much lower. How much lower depends on how effective you are at answering the questions.

This is a good time to suggest reading the topic on “Bid/No Bid Considerations” and “More Reasons to No Bid.” After you read them, go back and read them again. If after answering the questions, you do not have a competitive advantage, then you question whether bidding is still a good idea.

If you are committed to bidding in spite of a late start, then you better start working some long hours immediately. You should have started developing your win strategies and draft proposal plans before the RFP is released so that you can complete them quickly when the RFP hits the streets. If you are starting late, you still need to do the pre-RFP steps, but you can’t let it take more than a few days. You don’t have time to warm up or gather your resources. To get your proposal back on track you need your proposal plans in place without delay. If you work hard you can achieve that and the proposal will have a fighting chance. If you delay getting your plans together, it will impact the amount of time to write the proposal and quality will suffer.

There is a variation of Murphy’s Law that says that all proposals take the same amount of time. If you start late, you just have to work round the clock to put the same number of hours in as if you had started early. If you do the hard work to get caught up, you will be rewarded by how the process makes the writing easier and by what it does to improve your chances of winning.

The good news is that because the MustWin Process defines what it takes to be ready, you can measure your progress at getting caught up. The bad news is that you will know exactly how far behind you are…


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