Wouldn’t it be nice to just look into a crystal ball for the answer of whether to bid or not to bid on your next government contract? The truth is, you’ll need to consider your “probability of win,” or PWIN, before putting the time and energy into completing the proposal or bid. The federal bidding process is resource-intensive. As a result, it’s wise to base your decision on data-driven projections. Industry-wide, there are many ways to calculate PWIN. Do you know if you’re including the right data to prioritize your opportunities? Do you have the best shot at beating out the competition?

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You’d think that every Federal contractor who considers submitting a proposal for a government contract would have a well-defined process to calculate the PWIN. Yet, the PWIN calculation process varies wildly from business to business. Check out the five most recognized methods in use today, as referenced in William Rogers’ article, “Different Approaches to Calculating and Using PWIN”:

  1. Manual: This is the “gut feeling” or “educated guess” approach (the crystal ball). It’s the most subjective calculation. Someone within your business identifies the probability of the win and assigns it a number.
  1. Phase/Stage Based: This calculation originates in your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. It’s based on which phase or stages the opportunity is in currently. This calculation assumes that the farther into the process you are, the more likely you are to win. However, a lot of factors can poke holes in this calculation. For instance, if a new competitor jumps into the ring in the later phases of the process, your PWIN score should decrease. This isn’t accounted for in the Phase/Stage Based calculation.
  1. KPI-Driven Pursuit Assessment: This is a more standardized assessment for PWIN. Once you identify KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and weight them, an algorithm is used to determine PWIN. As a result, these standards are consistent across all instances, they may provide a more accurate outcome.
  1. Question Based Calculator: A set of questions is defined, and each answer is weighted, then put through an algorithm to determine the PWIN.
  1. Combination: This method uses some or all of the strategies above to create a weighted combination to determine PWIN.




You won’t be able to see your future without looking to the past. It’s possible that data from past bids can offer great insight to your PWIN. We recognize that no two bids are identical. Even in re-compete situations, circumstances change over time. Yet, there are some factors that may prove helpful in your PWIN calculation. Here are a few historic questions to consider:

  • Have you ever won a bid in this particular area of concern? Were you the prime or subcontractor?
  • How strong is your past performance with the issuing organization (Federal Agency, State, Municipality, Company/Division)?
  • How well does the issuing organization know your organization? Have you met with them recently? Are there any internal “champions” for your cause?
  • How well do you understand the various implications of effective project implementation? What about if you botch the job?
  • Who has the most significant vested interest in the success of the project? Does this person trust you to deliver?



If you’re focused on your PWIN as a way to prioritize your opportunities, consider present-day factors in your algorithm. You already know that capacity and profitability are key factors when it comes to taking on new work. A larger workforce or more hours in the day won’t magically appear from thin air. Therefore, you’ll benefit by including some of the questions below in your PWIN calculation:


  • Is your proposal development team ready to dive in and write a winning proposal?
  • Is there an opportunity cost of your team focusing on this proposal and giving less attention to the other priorities they’re responsible for?
  • Do you need to outsource proposal-writing support to develop a winning proposal?
  • What is the current backlog of your production staff?
  • Is your team excited about taking on the work associated with this project, should you win?
  • Do you currently have teaming partners?
  • Do you need a partner to be compliant?
  • Have you fully vetted your partners?
  • Do you have experience working with them?


  • Do you have accurate cost information?
  • Can you confidently apply a profit margin that you think will be competitive?
  • Have you identified a price that will be considered competitive by researching the competition?
  • Are there regulatory provisions to consider in determining the actual costs?
  • Does your bid require the Services Contract Act (SCA) minimum compensation floor?
  • Do you have enough wage and benefits details (adjusted for labor category and location) to comply?

Your PWIN calculation is only as valuable as the data points used to calculate it. As a result, by developing an algorithm that measures many variables, you’ll get a more accurate prediction of your chances to win your next government contract. And, by inputting accurate, historic data, your calculations will be most useful in pursuing new contracts.

Hence, when you establish PWIN as an essential, data-driven calculation within your organization, you don’t have to rely on the crystal ball anymore. It will help you prioritize your opportunities and win government contracts time and time again.



To help businesses grow through writing proposals for winning government contracts. We understand the government bidding process like no one else in the industry, and we love to win. We will help you calculate your PWIN and see if you are a good fit for this government contract. To schedule an informational meeting with someone on our development team, contact us today.

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