In today’s post, Ken Y., Training & Development Manager, shares his perspective on bid tracking and why everyone should do it. Read below for a simple approach to make sure you’re asking the right questions and getting valuable answers.
Over the years and across multiple companies, it was always important for me to understand what was driving our successes—and our failures. Since estimating and bidding projects were among the biggest investments we made as a company, it was critical that we got it right. This meant understanding not only what we were doing, but even more importantly, what we should be doing. That’s why I introduced a bid tracking process.
This may sound intimidating if you don’t have a program, like Primavera, that has this capability. But let me tell you—we didn’t have any programs that gave me this functionality, and quite frankly, we didn’t need anything that complex. Our average projects were in the $25,000 to $50,000 range and simple spreadsheets were enough for me.
The first thing I always did was write down a few simple things that I wanted to track. I started by making a list of the variables that could affect our process and the questions I wanted answers to. Here are some questions that helped me determine what I needed to measure:
- Bidding volume and estimate amounts—How much were we bidding, losing, and winning? Were our production numbers in line with the estimates?
- Contributions of the estimators and salespeople—What percentage was each person winning? How successful were we on their projects?
- Project Location—Could we profitably ship longer distances? Were we more successful if we had existing relationships in the market?
- Production Timeframes—How much attention did we need to pay to project start times and did we need to consider delivery dates before projects were won? Would overtime be a factor in meeting delivery deadlines?
- Our Relationships—Who were we bidding to and who were we winning work from? Who was shopping our numbers? Where were we wasting time and money? How quickly did they pay?
I’m certain that every company has somewhat different priorities and concerns—just ask yourself what the key questions are that you need answers to and use that as your starting point.
As we started tracking these data points, we learned a lot about how we operated. We learned about the percentage of work we were winning in geographic areas, the importance of privately- and publicly-funded work, which relationships made us successful, and most importantly, how we were winning work. I also had a clear understanding of the quantity and quality of work being done by each individual on the team.
Based on the things you learn, sometimes it’s hard to be brutally honest and admit what your company’s strengths are and what you can’t or shouldn’t be doing, but you’ll be a better, more profitable company in the end.