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The Decision to Bid

Jack Bolton
Written by
Jack Bolton

The decision to bid ideally involves a straightforward consideration of suitability in relation to your business, the opportunity and the buyer. Unfortunately this is not always the case and decisions are often made based on the wrong criteria.

If not properly approached, the decision process can be extremely inefficient, flimsy or needlessly bureaucratic. This can result in:

  • Good opportunities being missed.
  • Time wasted on bids that are not going to win.
  • Little time being left to produce a high-quality submission.

Although there will be elements of the decision that will be specific to your business, the 2 key factors which should be integral to any bid/no bid process are:

  1. Reading all the tender documents.
  2. Adhering to a straightforward decision process

1. Reading all the Documents


Read all the documents issued by the client. This is essential to having as full a picture as possible of what they want and to avoiding “showstoppers” which will immediately prevent you from bidding. Reading all the documents should enable you to:

  • Understand what the client wants, how they want it and when.
  • Identify any pass/fail criteria you must meet in order for your tender to be considered e.g.
    • Accreditations
    • Industry-specific memberships/accreditations/licences
    • Minimum financial thresholds
    • Minimum insurance requirements
  • Identify any issues with:
    • The specification
    • The contract document
    • The pricing schedules

You should now have all the facts about the scope of works and what you need to submit a compliant tender and can use this knowledge in your bid/no bid process.


  • Just look at the value. It can be wrong, exaggerated, erroneous (particularly if it is a framework), or even a typo!
  • Just look at who the client is. While it would be a significant feather in your cap to land a high-profile client, their demands may be as equally high-profile and your cap may very soon be featherless if you have not bothered to read the specification properly and can’t actually deliver what you promised.

2. Adhering to a Straightforward Decision Process

This should only involve 2 stages at the most:

  1. Consideration of the ITT
  2. The Decision

Regardless of the size of the opportunity your decision process should ideally not take longer than a week.

1. Consideration of the ITT

Having read all the documents you should ask the following key questions in order to ensure the opportunity is suitable:

  • Is there anything that automatically triggers a “No Bid” decision?

If yes, immediately discount the opportunity. If no, ask yourself the following key questions:

  • Can you meet all the service / product requirements of the client?
  • Can you meet the pricing requirements?
  • What do you know about the client? Do you have a good relationship with them already? Are they financially sound as far as you can tell?
  • Are the contract terms and conditions acceptable? If there are issues, can they be negotiated?
  • Are there any key risks to the business and the service required?
  • Does the opportunity fit your business’ growth plans, type of client, type of sector?
  • Do you have good previous experience and contract examples in this area?

2. The Decision

Good governance is not about layers of bureaucracy or confining all decisions to the most senior personnel.

If you want to use some form of “Gateway” method with automated forms, make sure the parameters are clearly defined and that those using them fully understand how they work.

Focus decision meetings on the core questions outlines above. Answers to these questions should form the basis of your decision.

The decision should be made by personnel with good experience and knowledge of the services and the client. This should enable you to make a decision quickly and confidently.

BE MINDFUL OF THE DEADLINE. Set time limits for those who make the decision. Make it clear to them that there will be a point past which it may be impossible to create a good submission or, indeed, any submission if they are mindful to say Yes.

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