Doing the bidding
Should bid management be part of the PMO?
BY ABID MUSTAFA
IN SOME ORGANIZATIONS, bid management is not a duty of the project management office (PMO). It's not uncommon to find dedicated departments that address the prospect of winning tenders. The typical argument for excluding bid management from the PMO is that the former has more to do with winning business, while the PMO is focused on prioritizing and delivering projects.
At other organizations, bid management is seen as an inseparable part of the PMO's operations. This structure is based on the idea that
winning business inevitably translates into internal projects that have to be undertaken to deliver customer products or services. Hence, early visibility of bids will assist both the management of the project portfolio and the delivery of projects.
Whether bid management is part of the PMO or not is dependent upon a number of factors, including organizational maturity, adoption of project culture, the role of the PMO and the strength of an organization's departments. For example, enterprise sales is one area where it makes perfect sense to integrate bid management with the competencies of the PMO. One of the responsibilities of enterprise sales is to respond to the changing needs of corporate customers through a variety of bids. Typically, this is done via the professional services department, where bid management usually resides in a separate team that works closely with the team managing the delivery of projects.
Yet other departments and organizations may be overlooking the value of integrating bid management into the PMO.
MORE ALIKE THAN NOT
Bid management teams share some interesting traits with PMO teams. Bid management teams are highly cross-functional: They plan delivery of proposals and provide governance mechanisms to ensure timely completion of bids. Moreover, bid management teams share a similar vernacular and skill set, providing status reports on the entire life cycle of bids and conducting lessons-learned sessions whenever proposals fail to win business.
Yes, bid management projects are short, but the overlap in skills, processes and priorities makes a strong case for bid management to be included as part of the PMO. Besides, by integrating bid management into the PMO, organizations will be better able to manage their project portfolios, thanks to the early visibility of potential project work. That structural integration also helps PMO staff validate project deliverables against what has been promised to customers. Tracking customer benefits seamlessly—and from the very beginning of the bidding process—can assist the project team in overcoming challenges during project delivery. In fact, the entire span of processes—from winning bids to completing deliverables—can be integrated to boost timely completion and successful project outcomes.
Another benefit to including bid management in the PMO is that it allows for the rotation of staff across a wider set of roles and responsibilities. This gives practitioners the opportunity to work on projects from bid to delivery, and can keep staff better engaged and committed to project success. PM
Abid Mustafa is a director of corporate programs for du Telecom, a telecom operator and PMI Global Executive Council member in the United Arab Emirates. He is the author of In the Age of Turbulence: How to Make Executive PMOs Successful.
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