I had a discussion with one of our consulting partners about an upcoming implementation of the MustWin Process at a large company with multiple divisions and well over 10,000 employees. It’s a non-trivial roll out.
The biggest problem you face in a process roll out like this is user acceptance. It’s even worse when there are multiple divisions involved that over time have developed their own ways of doing things. You’re not just asking them to do something new (new process), but to give something up (their own way of doing things).
And since it’s directly linked to the growth and success of their division, it can be really difficult to convince them to adopt a new process. Even if it’s a better way of doing things, you face user acceptance challenges, and if they're serious enough, they can lead to process implementation failure. Distribution of materials and training help reduce the barriers, but are usually not enough to win them over heart and soul.
That’s when I had an idea that will make a huge difference: metrics. We tend to treat metrics as a beneficial side effect of implementing our MustWin process, kind of like a special bonus that comes with the process. But in this case, metrics are going to be the glue that makes everything work. Metrics will be vital because they are going to become part of the reporting system used in the company.
The way our pre-RFP Readiness Reviews are set up makes it easy to quantify the review results at the individual question level as well as at the review level. We did that on purpose to make progress towards being ready for RFP release measurable. The numbers from the measurements can be formatted as a matrix and tracked using spreadsheets. They can be averaged in total giving you a single number that rates your readiness at each stage, or averaged by category (i.e., customer, opportunity, and competitive intelligence gathering) to show where you have weaknesses.
When senior managers and executives meet to review the status of pursuits, we’re going to modify the format of the reports to include the readiness metrics. Instead of just listing opportunities and subjectively describing their status, they’ll have to report their readiness metrics. In order for people to complete their reports, they'll have to have implemented the process.
This is the secret sauce. You don’t convince them to implement the process, you convince the executives of the importance of reporting metrics and then people come to you to learn the process so they can complete their reports.
In the short term, the reports will show their "readiness" to bid in a quantifiable way. In the long term, the metrics data will become an extremely useful analytical tool for bid/no bid, bid and proposal budgets, pipeline targets, and other key decisions. Only instead of having the metrics be a byproduct of the process, we're making the process a byproduct of getting the metrics they need for reporting.
Instead of scheduling training, begging people to show up, and then hoping they practice what they learn, we expect to have people coming to us to get training in order to complete their reports. And in order to complete the reports, they’ll actually have to do the reviews. In order to show decent numbers on the reviews, they’ll have to be talking to their customers, gathering intelligence, identifying competitive advantages, and positioning their company to win. Life will become so much easier for the proposal managers when people start showing up ready to win their bids. And the best part is, when the win rates go up, they’ll know exactly which efforts drove the increase because of the metrics that they tracked.