Why Good Performance Isn't Enough To Retain An Important Contract

When I work with companies who are looking to re-compete for important contracts that they know will be coming up to RFT in 12 months’ time, one of the things that the bid team most often talks about is their operational performance. Of course operational performance is important. It’s what suppliers are being paid to do. But it isn't always the most important, particularly when customers are deciding whether you're worth keeping around for another contract term.

Have you ever heard of a phenomenon called “digital distraction”? Here are some startling examples that explain why looking at the thing that’s right under your nose isn’t always the best idea:

  • In December last year, a Taiwanese tourist fell off the end of St. Kilda Pier in Melbourne because she was checking Facebook on her phone and not watching where she was going.  She was found by police 65 feet from the end of the pier, floating on her back in an attempt to keep her phone dry and safe — even though she couldn’t swim.
  • Likewise, in August, a man drove off a bridge in Texas after sending this text message: “I need to quit texting because I could die in a car accident.”
  • There have been some very serious cases of digital distraction, including a young child who drowned in the bath because the babysitter was looking at Facebook on her phone.

Of course, it’s not our mobile phones that are to blame — it’s the way we use them. It is very easy to be distracted by something that seems like it needs to be done in the here and now without looking at the bigger picture of what’s going on around us.

Likewise, operational performance is the most obvious and the easiest thing to focus on when delivering a services contract. But good performance is what we're being paid for - it's just a baseline expectation. As the RFT gets closer, the relative impact of operational performance is at its greatest and therefore maintaining performance tends to take up a lot of people’s time. There are, however, three other things that incumbents need to focus on — above and beyond operational performance — in order to retain important contracts.  And this work needs to start well before the RFT is released.

Every contract changes hands at some point. Whether it gets into your new, improved hands — or is snapped up by someone else —is really up to you. If you have an important services contract that is coming up for bid this year, contact me and let’s talk about what you and your team need to start focusing on now, over and above operational performance, to make sure you retain it.