Sun Tzu – The Bid Manager

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China. As many people know, Sun Tzu is the author of The Art of War, an influential work of military strategy that has affected Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking.  

Sun Tzu would have made an awesome Bid Manager.  

Master Tzu knew the importance of planning a battle (tender response). He wrote “Now, the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.” and “The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.”  

That’s right, planning is everything.  

Allocating time, resources and budget to the planning phase of the bid process is often overlooked to the detriment of the bid team, the final result and the win rate. Effective, structured bid planning (including pre-tender works and work undertaken by the business development team) is often the difference between a well-run bid process with a win at end, compared to a leaderless, erratic bid process with no plan or strategy and ultimately little chance of success.  

Effective planning incorporates: 

  • The Bid Team – Senior management support, Bid Managers, Writers, Estimators, Graphic Designers and Review Teams 
  • Authorising bid budgets 
  • Allocation of facilities including a ‘war room’ 
  • Implementation of the bid systems and processes 
  • Development of the bid response templates – bid management plan, bid response schedules and terminology sheets 
  • Organising and structuring kick-off meetings, win theme development and progress meetings 
  • Agreement on bid collation, editing and the printing process. 

Bid Manager Sun Tzu also understood the importance of having a well-established bid strategy… “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” … and the need for a robust tender process “strategy without tactics is the slowest route to defeat.” 

And finally, Sun Tzu noted that even well-planned bid strategies must remain flexible to changing requirements when he reminds us that “those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively.” 

How would your bid planning process stack up against Sun Tzu? 

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