Bill Scheessele


6 signs it's time to re-engineer your BD shop

Knowing when to overhaul your business development organization

Bill Scheessele is chairman and chief executive officer of MBDi, a business development professional services firm.

Doing business with the government has never been easy, but winning now is rising to a whole new level of difficulty. Bidding everything that remotely matches your company’s capabilities, taking recompete opportunities for granted, executing routine updates of capture forms or merely re-engineering the proposal process without evaluating your entire business development system can lead to stagnating or declining revenue. Making the workforce lean and tightening the budget belt will take you only so far. Those steps cannot provide the wins required for continuous revenue growth.

To make matters worse, many organizations discovered there is a critical missing link at the front end of their business development/capture process that was not apparent during times of escalating growth. Companies are finding that opportunity identification and qualification is changing the way they allocate precious resources in developing new business.

So when should you risk re-engineering your business development organization? The need for change is evident when you notice these six conditions.

  • Reactive, dependent business development processes. Most of your organization’s business development processes are short term, dependent and reactive to request for proposals announcements in contrast to being proactive, customer-centric and focused on long-term relationships. As a result, business units lose opportunities they should be positioned to win and lose business as the incumbent on a recompete.
  • Lack of synergy among autonomous business units. There’s a tendency for separate business line teams to focus their efforts only on their units. A representative of one group is seldom able to understand and leverage the capability, expertise or product/service delivery capacity of another unit in the same company. That disparity results in an insular culture, internal constraints within the company, external limitations in serving the customer and lost revenue.
  • Different business development methods, processes, procedures and cultures. The in-house systems and processes built around autonomous business lines give rise to a disproportionate number of business development processes, capture management methods and project management procedures that are indicative of diverse business development cultures. Even with the adoption of a systemwide business development process, only the “what to do and when to do it” steps are spelled out. The “how to do” each step is left for individual interpretation. This unwieldy proliferation of disparate systems causes duplication in effort and eventually takes its toll on revenue growth.
  • Lack of shared business development intelligence. Information gleaned about opportunities and people remains embedded within the independent units. There is no central repository of critical business development information or intelligence data. Pressure for business unit growth is so internally focused that critical intelligence is squirreled away, and there is little willingness to share valuable intell resources across the organization. Thus, opportunities for new and add-on revenue evaporate and strategic growth suffers.
  • Targets in unfamiliar territory. With shrinking domestic defense budgets, business development teams are charged with opening other agency opportunities or tackling international and commercial markets with little experience regarding how to work effectively in those unfamiliar environments. Barriers to entry into different arenas can be daunting, particularly in the commercial or international sectors. Doors were easier to open previously because trust was already established in the mind of the customer. In unfamiliar environments, it’s an entirely different scenario.
  • Frustration with work environment. Employees who face increased revenue targets while dealing with an industry in transformation are frustrated. They’re using outdated business acquisition processes that were appropriate for the previous business climate.

If revenue growth in your firm has slowed or is stagnant, it makes sense to invest in an assessment of the company’s revenue-generation effectiveness before tackling reorganization. Such a review provides a clear and comprehensive understanding of the revenue-generating efficacy, business development knowledge and business development capability of the organization. It focuses on business development plans, personnel, processes, organizational structure and leadership across the entire company.

Companies confronting the end of this continuous revenue expansion life cycle would be served well by investing in this evaluation. The resulting recommendations serve as the road map to an intelligent reorganization, ensuring revenue growth.

About the Author

Bill Scheessele is the CEO of MBDi, a global business development services firm providing expertise in business development best practices in the national security, defense, scientific, energy and engineering industries. The firm offers BD consulting, strategy, planning and personnel services in addition to education workshops to help BD professionals identify hidden strengths, barriers to progress and opportunities for improvement. Learn more about MBDi, their revenue growth resources and their workshops at

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