An end-to-end process is a systematic series of actions or steps directed toward a specific end. It allows teams of business developers to know where they are, where they are going, and what path to follow to reach their goals. An end-to-end business development (BD) process is necessary in situations like;
- Merged or restructured organizations
- Changes in management
- Failure to meet sales or win-rate goals
- Staffing fluctuations
- Sale of the organization
- Analysts’ concerns affecting stock price
- Maturing markets
- Loss of key customers or contracts
Common features of end-to-end processes include;
Phase : Defined BD selling phases aligned with the customer’s buying cycle. The eight generally accepted BD phases are Market Identification, Account Planning, Opportunity Assessment , Opportunity Planning, Proposal Planning, Proposal Development, Negotiation and Delivery.
Bid decisions : Bid decisions are led by executives and address business and strategic issues. They help teams make decisions regarding allocation or withdrawal of BD resources. Disciplined bid decisions avoid investment in low- probability opportunities and thereby reduce BD costs.
Team reviews : Team reviews help in improving the quality of thinking and documentation of a pursuit. The reviews address tactical and execution issues and provide recommendations for improvement.
Outputs : Outputs are developed in each phase and become inputs to the next phase. The output that does not contribute to advancing the effort should be eliminated.
Additional elements : In illustrating an end-to-end BD process, consider these additional elements:
- The customer’s buying process
- Notional timeframes for phases, decisions, reviews, and outputs
- Defined goals for each phase
- Critical business decisions for each phase
- Listing of activities embedded within each phase
- Indication of accountable roles for all activities
- Listing of tools, templates, and other aids associated with each activity
- Create a documented, unified process
A documented, unified end-to-end BD process has the following benefits :
- Higher win rates and capture ratios
- Lower BD costs
- Higher productivity and morale
- More accurate forecasting
- Increased management visibility, direction, and control
The organizations without a documented end-to-end process operate at the lowest BD CMM maturity level. To achieve the second level of maturity, the Repeatable level, the organization must at least have a repeatable process for response generation. The third level, the Defined level, a defined BD process allows teams of business developers with organizational competencies to focus on developing a winning solution. The maturity of fourth level, Managed level and fifth level, Optimizing level are realized when the BD process is fully integrated with corporate operations.
- Align with the customer’s buying cycle
An end-to-end BD process must be aligned with the customer’s buying cycle. Create phases in the BD process that include activities responsive to the customer at each phase. The process of alignment involves the following phases;
- Operate: During this phase customer needs are latent, unrecognized. Corresponding BD phases will include activities aimed at positioning the seller’s organization for meeting potential customers and gaining a better understanding of future needs.
- Assess Needs: As the customers’ latent needs are identified, the BD objective is to assist the customer in defining requirements and evaluating the benefits of fulfilling those requirements.
- Value Solutions: During this part, customers identify potential solutions and then assess the relative value of those solutions. In aligned BD phases, the customer and seller together quantify the added value of potential solutions to the customer’s organization.
- Resolve Issues: Here, the customer is actively soliciting and evaluating alternatives. In this part, the BD process is aimed at preparing for, and developing, formal responses, proposals. Aligned BD phases include proposal planning, proposal development, and negotiation.
- Implement: In this phase, the customers focus on attaining the expected benefits of their chosen solutions. Business developers reinforce the value delivered, highlight the value of further enhancements, and begin positioning for the next sale.
- Make the process flexible and scalable
Understand if your organization usually bids as a prime contractor or as a subcontractor. Based on this analysis, define a smallest of opportunity categories. The process should be scalable depending upon the size of an opportunity, delivery deadline, and available resources. Instead of skipping on critical elements, conduct them at the appropriate levels of intensity, making it short or brief according to the need of the situation.
- Clearly define roles
After defining the end-to-end process, establish clear roles with associated responsibilities, authority, and accountability. This ensures that no tasks are left behind. Also, identify supporting organisations and define their roles.
- Develop needed staff competencies
Identify necessary competencies and skill gaps and plan training. Rely on the competencies for Proposal Managers and Opportunity Managers identified by APMP as a baseline for establishing a training plan.
- Ensure consistent, disciplined use
Focused management and continuous effort is needed for not only implementing but also sustaining a BD process. Corporate inertia, individual resistance to change, and constantly changing priorities are the things that hinder focus and erode commitment. To succeed, the launch of a new BD process must include a change- management plan. This plan must take into account the following stages ;
- Lack of discipline and accountability
- Lack of support with tools and training
- Corporate inertia and changing priorities
The article briefly details key examinable syllabus area from the APMP Practitioner certification.
Based on APMP Copyrighted Material