Go or No-Go? Effective Submission Decisions in Federal Contracting

Mar 18, 2022

Every day, various federal, state and local departments release opportunities worth millions of dollars. These opportunities offer small businesses a chance to work with these departments, gain experience and make profits. But the question remains – which opportunities should a small business bid for and which not? A Go/No-Go Decision, also known as a Bid/No-Bid Decision, refers to the decision that a business makes on whether to pursue an opportunity or not. This decision is based on an informed analysis where multiple factors are considered and weighed before arriving at the final determination. This decision is critical as bidding for an opportunity entails the cost of bidding for it and the risks and ability to complete the work.

In this blog, we have explained the importance of making the right Go/No-Go decision, the process of doing it, and the factors to consider for making an effective decision.

Importance of Making the Right Go/No-Go Decision

Deciding to bid or not is a significant step in proposal management. Every proposal you pursue requires your time, effort, and money. Moreover, the potential contract that you may be awarded in the future will also require you to commit resources to achieve the goals of the work effort. Responding to every single Request for Proposal (RFP) can result in wasted resources, a low win rate, and a significantly high workload for your proposal teams. Moreover, submitting many non-winning proposals in response to RFPs can damage a contractor’s reputation. Therefore, making the right Go/No-Go decision is a highly significant first step in this long journey.

Proposal professionals feel that their workload and volume of work are their greatest stressors. Making smart bid decisions also becomes crucial when faced with a heavy workload. Making a Go decision just because an opportunity seems exciting and too good to pass up can lead to disaster. Therefore, it is essential to follow a well-thought process. The RFP Go/No-Go process is a way to consider various factors that determine the viability of an opportunity before deciding whether to bid for it or not.

How to Do an RFP Go/No-Go Analysis

The analysis of an RFP for making a Go/No-Go decision can differ according to your company’s type of work and the nature. Still, the following steps can be considered as general best practices for answering the Bid/No-Bid question. By following these practices, a standard can be developed that will be more inclusive of all the stakeholders. This will ensure that you decide by taking inputs from all key decision-makers.

Step 1: Gather Information
In the first step, you need to analyze the solicitation and understand the key parameters that affect your business. The more information you can gather, the more effective your decision will be. You need to understand the costs involved in the project, timeframes, resources required, and the outcomes.

Step 2: Gather Stakeholders
The second step entails gathering the key personnel with the knowledge and the people who stand to gain or lose based on your decision. In other words, you should involve people with technical and financial expertise who will be able to think through potential risks and benefits.

Step 3: Determine the Factors to Be Considered
The third step is to determine the factors to consider for each project. Even though financial risks and benefits are always significant, the intangible benefits from each project must be considered. These intangible factors include relationships with government agencies and teaming partners and new opportunities that could arise by completing this project.

Step 4: Brainstorming
In this step, you can utilize tools such as a mindmap, a decision-making matrix or a decision tree, wherein you can perform an in-depth analysis of the risks and benefits of the project.

Step 5: Analysis
After the brainstorming, you need to analyze the outcome of the brainstorming and understand whether a project is, or is not, the best choice at present.

Step 6: Decision Making
In the last and final step, you need to make a final Go/No-Go decision. Sometimes, there can be a conditional decision, such as: “given certain circumstances, we will go for this opportunity,” which is not a concrete decision at that time but allows stakeholders to leave the table feeling that their ideas have been heard and respected.

Factors to Consider Before a Go/No-Go Decision

After analyzing the opportunity, there are many factors that you must consider before making a Go/No-Go decision; some of these are:

  • Alignment with business goals: Does the opportunity align with your business’s long-term vision, goals, and objectives? The work you do today is the past performance you will have tomorrow. Therefore, it is essential to consider whether or not the project you are looking to bid on fits in with your company’s long-term strategy and goals.
  • Capability to perform:
    • Do you have the experience, subject matter expertise, and technical capability to fulfill the work performance requirements?
    • Do you have a talented proposal team and internal resources to put together a credible bid?
    • Do you need a partner or subcontractor?
  • Viability/Profitability:
    • What is the expected profit margin and return on investment?
    • Does the opportunity meet your profit margin goals for your business?
    • Do you have the finance resources to perform on this opportunity?
    • What are the opportunity costs of deployed assets?
  • Risks Involved: Will pursuing the project pose any risks to your business?
  • Turnaround time: Do you have enough time to respond to the RFP?
  • History:
    • Do you have prior experience working with the agency?
    • How much do you know about the background of the RFP and the customer’s hot buttons?
    • Do you have any existing content from your past proposals in your knowledge library that can be customized for this proposal?
  • Place of Performance: Can you perform at the contract-covered sites? Is the work location a good fit for you?
  • Competition:
    • Do you know who your competitors are for this opportunity, and do you have a big chance of winning against them?
    • Who is the incumbent? What are their chances of winning a re-compete?


Using Go/No-Go Checklist

Contractors can create a Go/No-Go checklist to list the critical factors for taking this decision. Such checklists can be customized based on the priorities of an organization.

Download the checklist here

After you examine whether the factors and criteria are met, the next step is making the decision to bid or not. By taking a qualitative and quantitative data-driven approach in this manner, you will be able to make smart, effective, and informed decisions on what projects to pursue and what to let go of.

Making the right Go/No-Go decision can be overwhelming for small businesses who are still new to the Federal Government marketplace. iQuasar can help you orient your Go/No-Go process to your long-term company goals. Our proposal professionals will guide you through the RFP analysis process and provide you with the counsel you need for deciding whether an opportunity is a right fit for your business or not. Our team of experts can also manage the entire process by helping you assess your eligibility, increase your readiness levels, prepare a proposal development strategy tailored to your firm’s unique requirements, and create a high-quality and compliant proposal response to help you win. Please feel free to reach out to us, and we can set up a call to discuss your company’s specific needs.

Also read: 7 Key Government Contract Vehicles to Pursue in 2022

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