Survey Says: The Go/No-Go Process

As marketers, we know that creating a winning proposal requires significant time, thought, and resources. We also know that “spinning our wheels” on projects we have no chance of winning, don’t make good business sense, or don’t fit our firm’s strategic goals keeps us from investing in opportunities that are right for our business. Not to mention, these instances lead to lower win rates, poor team morale, and burnout. Losing repeatedly isn’t fun for anyone.

With so much at stake, the go/no-go process is critical, helping the proposal team collectively consider factors that influence the viability and prioritization of a project and use available resources to our best advantage.

In a recent SMPS CO survey, it was encouraging to discover that 100% of respondents indicated that a go/no-go process existed within their firm. However, only 31% followed the process consistently, 37% tried their best to follow the process, and 32% indicated that team members were aware of the process—but didn’t consider it necessary or a priority.

Nearly 70% indicated that their go/no-go process occurred during a meeting/formal discussion. Of these respondents, 49% indicated that a set of established/rating/weighted criteria was used to help determine the go/no-go decision, with 51% indicating that no established set of criteria was used.

Of the remaining 30% of respondents who weren’t conducting go/no-go meetings, 75% used a paper or digital/automated form with established/rating/weighted criteria to determine go/no-go decisions, and 25% used a paper or digital/automated form without established/rating/weighted criteria.

Most respondents indicated that a marketing/BD representative, the project manager, the pursuit manager/champion, and the principal-in-charge were the decision-makers most directly involved in the go/no-go process.

Nearly half of respondents (46%) indicated that there have been instances when their firms moved forward with a pursuit despite reaching a no-go decision. Although 93% indicated this happens infrequently, some reasons given included an executive overriding a team decision to meet revenue goals, having a long-standing relationship and track record with the customer, being directly invited to bid by a customer/prospect, having a strong gut feeling that the firm has an “in” with the client, a promise was made to a client/prospect that the firm would pursue, or an assumption was made that the team’s qualifications fit the RFP requirements.

No matter where your firm may fall on the use and thoroughness of the go/no-go process, it’s important to remember that there is value in its practice. Effective go/no-go processes and decisions are based on objectivity, improve accuracy in decision-making, support team collaboration, and consensus, and help to conserve valuable time and resources for more worthwhile pursuits.

There are many articles, tools, and resources available to help develop or improve your go/no-go process. SMPS and LinkedIn topics are great places to start. Perhaps a 2023 goal is to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. And if you don’t have a process – take time to establish one.
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