Go/No Go in Construction: 3 Tips to Save Time & Capital

Go/No Go in Construction: 3 Tips to Save Time & Capital

Having a sound strategy on Go/No Go decisions is what sets general contractors apart

February 23, 2023

7 min read


Caleb Taylor

Caleb Taylor

Founder at Buildr

All projects are not created equal—they don't all deserve the same dedicated investment of time, money, and energy.

In simplest terms, the project has to be a “fit.” Depending on your firm’s goals and expertise, certain clients and projects will have a higher likelihood of success, while others could be moot. It can be tough to identify which projects are worth it when your overall strategy isn't pronounced.

Enter Go/No Go decision-making.

Even the naming convention "Go/No Go" points toward the ideal black-and-white nature of how you and your company should think about pursuing projects. There needn't be any nuance about which projects you take on; millions of dollars and multiple years worth of work are on the line. There's no room for a "Go/No Go/Maybe, It Depends" decision.

Projects with a higher probability of success (winning the bid and completing the project to the owner's specifications) and overall profitability are prioritized. The opportunities that don't align with your company roadmap ("We'd only barely break even") are filtered out in your CRM.

But what is a sound Go/No Go decision-making strategy, and how do you ascertain what's "not a fit?" More importantly, once you determine what is and what isn't a fit, how can you go about implementing the new gameplan?

Read on to gain some context before diving into our tips for a goal-oriented bidding plan, complements of the Go/No Go framework.

What is Go/No Go decision-making in construction?

General contractors don't just blindly build, and the best GCs aren't those that simply "build the best." There's quite a bit of strategy that needs to come first.

Projects cost time and thus money to pursue, and it can be difficult to decide which opportunities are worth the investment without an overarching company vision. This is where the Go/No Go decision-making comes into play.

Many general contractors use a simple rubric called a Go/No Matrix to decide on which projects are worth the pursuit. A Go/No Go Matrix is a point-based checklist that filters out wasted time and investments in projects that don’t fit your bill. And by employing it within the foundation of your business development the right way, you can light the path to spared time and precious capital.

Here’s an example of a simple Go/No Go checklist to use as a base. 

The most relevant questions to ask yourself fall into 3 categories:

  • Shared values between prospective client and your company

  • The quality of the relationship as-is of the prospective client

  • The quality of the opportunity

Depending how what you know about the prospective client, shared values imply a level of collaboration that could be a match made in heaven or nightmare. Having some degree of a built-in relationship goes hand-in-hand with having access to that priceless intel, and like an any industry, "it's who you know" can play a vital role in winning the job in the first place. Lastly, the quality of the opportunity is usually the most complex of the three and will differ depending on your firm. Example questions in this field may include:

  • Do we have the experience relevant to pull this project off without a hitch?

  • Is this project in line with future projects we'd want to build afterward?

  • Who are the competitors in our market that we'll have to compete with on this?

  • How competitively will we be able to price the project in light of our competition?

With a Go/No Go decision-making strategy, you can cut out wasted time and investments in projects that either don’t make sense for your firm, or you have no chance of winning. Rather than sending your business development team on a wild goose chase, you’re giving them targeted, qualified opportunities to go after—which always offers a higher chance of success.

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Go/No Go Tips to Save Time & Capital

Bidding on a project that doesn’t fit your expertise, strategic goals, or that you have no chance of winning is a twist of the knife for general contractors, and risks burnout for your business development team. Phone calls, emails, attending conferences for a couple pre-ordained run-ins, and marketing brochures aren’t cheap.

Wasted opportunities certainly hurt. But with a solid Go/No Go strategy, you can leave hours of chasing the wrong projects in your wake, save your sales team the burnout of calling ill-fit clients, and say goodbye to marketing overages that end up amounting to squat. 

Here are a few tips to guide your Go/No Go strategy:

1. Define your overall growth plan

It’s tough to build a Go/No Go decision-making standard when you lack a broader plan for the firm.

Goals define success, and once you know your firm’s goals for growth, the right projects will be easier to identify. If your goal is "x" million in annual construction volume in "y" years building "z" project types as your bread and butter because your competitor "w" doesn't have the best reputation in your market building "z" (lots of letters, bear with us), you’ll know the types of clients or projects to gun for. But without an annual target and overarching plan for growth, bidding for projects will be an aimless task that will amount to "should'ves." 

Keep your firm’s growth in mind when crafting your Go/No Go matrix, so that the right opportunities are prioritized. Wasted time is wasted capital, after all.

2. Look Offline

The internet may be a powerful research tool, but some information is only available on the grapevine. Being "in the know" is a paramount skill to develop, especially when it comes to hearing about a project before your competitors.

Even if you have loads of data about a project on the horizon, research is best complemented by directly reaching out to people with the inside scoop. Whether it’s outside colleagues, contractors, or suppliers, word-of-mouth can offer powerful insight into a project’s needs and status. Stay informed with a combination of both online research and outreach to your network. 

3. See projects for what they are

Your inner customer service rep will want to treat every project with special treatment, but I urge you to fight the reflex.

Not every project deserves your maximum effort and attention, no matter how badly your inner customer-pleasing self is itching. If you give in, the point of Go/No Go decision-making is lost. No matter how badly you want to please a potential client, trusting the process (ie., saving time and money) is far more important.

Stick to your guns and follow the matrix you’ve built. It’ll attract the right clients and filter out the projects that don’t fit, all while saving you precious time and the money that follows. 

It’s obvious why GCs prefer the Go/No Go framework when deciding which projects to pursue. As long as they’re informed by your firm’s goals and expertise, your prospects will pose a higher likelihood of success, all while ditching the time wasted on unfitting clients or projects.

Save your time, money, and energy on unsuitable pursuits with a Go/No Go plan that boosts your probability of project success. Your firm will thank you later.


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