Highly profitable businesses are agile. They devote time to researching new bids and pruning their pipeline to maximize their win rate. Their bid staff keep a challenging workload, yet they have enough time to focus on each bid.

Does this sound like a wishful thinking? It doesn't have to be. Here are five tips that can help re-energize your businesses pipeline and increase your win rate.

1. Devote time to creating a realistic 3-year pipeline

Create a realistic three-year pipeline as a baseline. Expedite your search for potential bids by investing in commercial databases, go-to-market services and competitive analyses. Weight the pipeline with conservative bids. Allocate a smaller part of the pipeline to more aggressive bids that either need heavy bid and proposal (B&P) investment, minimize your profit potential or focus on new customers or new lines of business.

2. Implement a status dashboard and an IMS

Implement a status dashboard to quickly depict how well you're meeting bid milestones such as win strategy development or customer calls. Implement a resource-loaded integrated master schedule (IMS) to decide whether you over- or under-allocated staff resources or need interim contract staff to fill gaps or surges.

3. Update the pipeline on a routine basis

Once you set up the baseline, update it with new bids routinely to maximize your win rate. Designate full-time or part-time resources to look for new bids and prepare preliminary win rate analyses. The frequency of your pipeline update will depend on your business type, size, business and profit goals.

4. Continually add to and prune the business pipeline

Prune the pipeline through frequent bid/no-bid decisions. Implement an objective and quantitative criterion for your bid/no-bid decisions, such as strategic value, likelihood of a win, operational risk and profitability. Bids that stay in the pipeline even if they are not best placed to win waste a company's time and money.

5. Implement a communications plan

Inform staff involved in supporting bids of a bid's status through an efficient communications workflow. Even a small glitch in communications can cost thousands of dollars in lost work hours. Build a workflow that shows when the bid is scheduled for release, when it is released, when amendments occur, when it is delivered, when it is won or lost — and the date of the win party!