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As part of a high-level business transformation initiative aimed at securing strategic jumps in business performance and results I focused on the sales bid cycle for a sizeable technology company.

Analysis indicated that bid costs spent on unsuccessful bids, in the tens of millions of dollars, were too high in comparison with revenues from business won. The nature of the business necessitated high bid costs, so the issue was how to improve qualification into the bidding process, and to improve bid quality so as to increase the win ratio.

Best practice materials were leveraged from other countries, adapted and extended for local use and a new top-level business process was defined - it was one of only a dozen processes defining the entire activities of the company, such was its importance.

The process was documented in flow charts, responsibility matrices, meeting pro forma agendas and generic attendee lists, forms and simple definitions. Some of the most interesting and useful work was in defining who was responsible for what, preventing duplication and turf fighting and greatly increasing the collaboration of stakeholders in the bid cycle.

The development process was consultative but highly driven with a sense of urgency. Stakeholders who had an involvement in the process or an interest in the outcome were presented with suggestions at every step, reactions were noted and discussed and ideas gathered and fed back into the next step. My team listened carefully, but we made the decisions, we did not wait for, or seek, consensus, but argued our decisions by demonstrating with outputs. This enabled very fast project completion as consensus seeking takes a lot of time, advocacy works faster.

Once the outline of the process was clear a process administrator (a senior line manager) was appointed. The success of his role depended on this process working well, so he was the logical manager. Once he knew that he was going to have to manage the process his attention ensured that what was finalized was practical.

Top management sponsorship and involvement in the new process ensured that the process was implemented and followed. It worked well, everyone bought in, we refined details over the first couple of cycles, and then passed the process to the process manager to run and maintain.

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