Your Questions, Our Answers
Often excitement is created by a technical breakthrough or news about growth in another company’s business, but these alone do not warrant strategic moves. However, sustainable growth platforms are developed with an integrated outside-in (areas of external demand) and inside-out (areas of distinctive company assets and capabilities) analysis. We characterize market opportunity areas based on trends in end-user needs, technology evolution, competitor strength, and supply chain dynamics. We also consider ability of a particular company to access growth areas in terms of organic capabilities, capital requirements, and M&A candidates. Ultimate prioritization is based on the quality of the market opportunity and the ability of the particular company to be successful in that area.
Make effective decisions on what not to do as much as a focusing on what to do. Efficient management of Bid & Proposal (B&P) funds is about having clear investment criteria across the entire portfolio of pursuits and spending smartly on each pursuit.
Assessing strategic value requires a multi-faceted approach including examining recent bidding behavior within similar focused market areas, understanding the increase in expected value of future opportunities that a win will provide the competitor, and monitoring artifacts that illustrate the competitor’s desire to win. Strategic value can be quantitatively estimated using tools such Real Options analysis commonly used in commercial pricing and contracting.
Effective strategies anticipate surprises from customers and competitors. Responding to these surprises requires a strategy that monitors specific signposts and that you can test during the pursuit, and that can evolve.
Competitive and market pressures are changing the economics of historically strong businesses. Our approach is to determine root causes of underperformance by comparing the current business to customer needs and competitors’ behaviors. Insights into misalignment with market demands will lead to options for change—for example, business model transformation, targeted investment in product development, cost reduction initiatives, etc. Conditions for business unit success are then compared to other corporate priorities, and strategic decisions can be made about how to manage the unit—grow market share, maintain low share/low growth, or divest business—based on critical factors driving the decision, e.g. risk, investment/return, acquirer interests.
Getting “on the record” or “off the record” feedback is insufficient in understanding losses. Understanding losses requires understanding alignment against customer needs, assessing competitive insight, and reviewing strategic execution through an unbiased perspective.
Most PP&C disciplines are implemented for compliance providing little to no value to the technical team. For PP&C to enhance productivity, the information provided must be actionable.
Designing an EVMS solely for external reporting and compliance is one of the most common and expensive EVMS implementation mistakes.
The government’s recent emphasis on competition creates an increased threat to company franchises and ability to leverage platform incumbency. An effective way to protect markets is to anticipate competitors’ approaches and then design counter-strategies. We apply our structured choices methodology for win strategy development to evaluate and reverse engineer likely baseline strategies for each competitor, and alternatives. We then compare the findings from this evaluation to observed market moves of each competitor and identify predictive indicators of how competitor strategies may unfold or evolve over time in the market segment. Competitive responses can be designed accordingly to preserve market position while maintaining favorable economics.
A resource loaded IMS integrated with the EVMS and Risk Register are key elements of an effective PP&C system that provides early warning to issues and insights into the drivers of the cost/schedule/technical trends.
Effective programmatics align project performance feedback cycles to the product development tempo and approach. Implementing projects with agile tools and methods provides early warning to program challenges.
Program Planning & Control (PP&C) is a program management discipline. However, the key to achieving a successful PP&C implementation is ensuring cost/schedule is a single integrated discipline within the PP&C team.
There are a number of dimensions to successful enter into adjacent markets. From a demand/supply perspective, these include a good understanding of opportunity areas and having the ability to create and sell the right products for the adjacent markets. To be successful in adjacent markets a new business model is usually required, which is often the most challenging part for companies narrowly focused on products and services.
You know your system is working when the project team and management use the information to make both day-to-day, and milestone decisions, not just keep score. Successful program planning and controls integrates cost and schedule principles with technical and other product components. Getting the level of detail right is one of the biggest challenge to effectively implementing IMS/EVMS for decision support.
The technology-push approach of finding new applications for existing products and capabilities is extraordinarily difficult. Consider a market-pull perspective by conducting research and working with marketplace incumbents to characterize particular segments and the outstanding unmet needs. This allows you work backwards to identify relevant capabilities to address market needs.
Tailoring internal processes to match the pursuit is essential in increasing bid capacity, but insufficient to compete effectively. Firms must also have a clear understanding of the balance between maximizing the probability of win on individual bids and total value of programs pursed to achieve the target return on investment (ROI) for your business.
There is value beyond the terms of the deal reflected in the price. A useful way to think about value is a framework of innovation that includes program infrastructure, product or service offering and customer experience. There can be opportunities within each to create a robust system of value for a customer by linking value creation across these innovation types.
Contractors that do not have a validated EVMS present more risk to the buying agency. If you are bidding to win $50M+ programs, implementation of an EVMS should be integral to your win strategy.
Understanding the relationship and integration of sprints, story maps, the IMS, and EVMS is key to implementing EVMS in an Agile environment.
It is too late once a protest has been filed. Helping your customer defend an award decision is best done before the final RFP is ever released—by helping your customer define clear requirements and evaluation criteria. Proposals should be prepared with the evidence needed for a defensible award decision.
Unfavorable RFP changes are most troubling because they indicate a disconnect with the customer. If there are RFP changes, it is important to conduct a fast cycle assessment of possible competitive strategies. Develop new alternatives and assess impact of customer changes and anticipated competitor responses to determine the strongest strategy based on evolving conditions. Tactical moves are then determined based on observed challenges of the selected strategy but must also include stepped-up efforts to increase customer intimacy.
Partnering with trusted providers can help minimize fixed costs, retain critical organic capabilities, and meet surge and specialized needs. It is vital that the decisions on which roles to outsource are aligned with your company’s culture and intended market strategy.
Dynamics around budgets, conflicts/threats, and competitors make long-term strategy development more challenging than ever. Segmentation offers a useful way to think about the distinct parts of a business—not necessarily based on products or customers, but on attributes such as nature of responsibility, frequency of competition, and technology domain. Long-term strategies appropriate for each of the segments that the division participates in have the greatest potential to be robust to the natural market dynamics.
Implementing a PP&C discipline that produces actionable information and early warning to negative trends assists the program team to deliver on time and on cost with quality.
Regulation and process have made the government customer historically unattractive to commercial companies. Partnerships with traditional government contractors is one way to navigate the system, and new government efforts to reach out to innovative commercial firms might further facilitate adoption of commercial offerings. There are also occasional opportunities when the government may prefer a commercial offering because it offers better value.
Third party reviews minimize the impact on your customer, reduce the cost of rework, and minimize the impact on the technical team (CAMs and PMs).
Environments that implement cost and schedule as separate functions in the organization create stovepipes resulting in rework, extended hours for staff, and late CDRLs. In these environments, more time is spent reconciling data rather than analyzing information. Program Planning & Control (PP&C) organizations with integrated cost/schedule capabilities can operate as much as 30% more efficiently.
The stress and cost of preparing for milestone reviews persists to this day in spite of numerous improvements in processes and execution discipline. Modern techniques have fundamentally changed design and development methods. These techniques can result in artifacts needed for customer milestone reviews as contemporaneous products of the design process.
Analytical methods can be used to better understand, decompose, and measure uncertainties applicable to pricing strategy. Different types of procurements, ranging from commodities bought by the item to major systems development, are driven by different types of uncertainties. Understanding these and having the tools to analyze them are critical to developing a robust pricing strategy.
Most companies fall into a trap of perceiving their customers from a single lens, and discounting contrary evidence or opinions. A rigorous analytical, fact-based approach can be applied to gaining unique insights and testing those insights during a competition.
Though typical practice in industry, lessons learned conducted on major competitive losses have largely failed to result in enduring systemic learning. Findings are often limited to unique external or internal conditions that make it difficult to transcend from experiential to pedagogic knowledge needed for organizational learning. A capability-centric perspective to learning overcomes the limitations of these traditional approaches.
Recent customer buying behaviors are a strong indicator of what they value most when making competitive awards. These behaviors often reflect deep-seated beliefs that are difficult to observe directly. Proposals that resonate with a customer’s narrative can be very powerful.