An end-to-end process is a systematic series of actions or steps directed toward a
specific end. An end-to-end business development (BD) process is like a roadmap
which allows teams of business developers to know where they are, where they are
going, and what path to follow to reach their goals. Every organization should design
its own end-to-end BD process suited to its organization and customers using proven
principles and best practices.
Common features that will pertain to most end-to-end processes include:
● Defined BD selling phases aligned with the customer’s buying cycle
● A series of structured bid decisions providing executive visibility and control of
targets to be pursued
● Team reviews to provide objective recommendations for improvement
● Defined outputs supporting a winning offer.
The eight generally accepted BD phases are listed here:
1. Marketing Identification
2. Account Planning
3. Opportunity Assessment
4. Opportunity Planning
5. Proposal Planning
6. Proposal Development
Progressing from one phase to the next is determined by bid decisions, sometimes
referred to as gate decisions. Their primary purpose is to help teams make decisions
regarding allocation or withdrawal of BD resources. Disciplined bid decisions reduce
BD costs by avoiding investment in low-probability opportunities.
Team reviews are aimed at improving the quality of thinking and documentation of a
pursuit. Performed by management, staff, or subject matter experts, these reviews
address tactical and execution issues and provide unbiased, constructive
recommendations for improvement in the form of qualitative and quantitative
Outputs are developed in each phase and become inputs to the next phase. If an
output does not contribute to advancing the effort, you should eliminate it. Base
decisions on how much to plan or prepare in advance of the RFP on the level of
confidence regarding what will be requested.
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.
Best practices include creating a well-documented and unified process, aligning end-
to-end BD process with the customer’s buying cycle, making the process flexible and
scalable, establishing well defined roles, developing needed staff competencies and
always ensuring consistent and disciplined use.