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Achieving checkmate

The winning moves for the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC) In-Service Support (ISS) Contract.

On March 15, 2023, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) hosted its 2nd industry engagement session on the ISS portion of the STTC procurement.

The ISS contract has been carved out in 4 different work packages namely.

· WP1: Aircraft Maintenance Support

· WP2: Material Support

· WP3: Training Support

· WP4: OEM Technical Support

Aligning procurement strategies with stakeholders priorities

PSPC is considering 3 procurement strategies. Frankly, I would be delighted to provide constructive criticism on each. But unfortunately, this analysis has been banned by the Blog Post Censorship board. Instead, I used the a.k.a qualifiers to provide directional assessment.

Strategy #1: One ISS contract with a Prime contractor. a.k.a 'One hand to shake, one throat to choke.'

Strategy #2: One ISS contract with a Thin prime that competes Work Packages on Canada’s behalf. a.k.a 'When in doubt delegate and cover all your bases.'

Strategy #3: Multiple ISS contracts for each work package. a.k.a 'Responsibility divided, accountability diluted, nightmare guaranteed.'

Note: PSPC indicated that Strategy #3 is the preferred one at the moment. Interesting !

If you want the right answers, ask the right questions.

They say that there's no such thing as a dumb question...but let's be real, we've all heard some real head-scratchers before. I can think of a few instances when I won the gold medal of silly questions. So, I figured this would be a good opportunity to redeem myself and hopefully provide a useful framework to guide your business development strategies.

Keep your customer close …

Investigating the procurement strategies and stakeholders’ objectives would be an important 1st step. Here are a few questions I would suggest as a starting point:

1. Why is Strategy #3 the preferred one for PSPC?

2. What goals and objectives are the three different stakeholders trying to achieve? (Economic buyers: Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED), End-users: Royal Canadian Air-Force (RCAF), Gatekeepers: PSPC)

3. How can we guide stakeholders and help them achieve their goals? Keeping in mind that some of the objectives are potentially conflicting and/or incompatible.

4. If we can’t satisfy the 3 economic buyers, which one will ultimately be the decision maker.

… And your competition closer

The second step would be to evaluate the competitive landscape for both the incumbent as well as the challengers. A bidder comparison matrix would be a particularly useful framework to map the high-level competencies/requirements vs the competitors.

Incumbents and the risk of complacency

As an incumbent I would want to

1. Identify key competitors' strengths and weaknesses. It would be tempting for the incumbent to skip this step and fall in complacency mode. It would also be a costly unforced error.

2. Articulate a compelling partnership and/or sub-contracting agreements to make Strategy#1 the only viable procurement option for PSPC.

3. Shape the Value Proposition (VP) framework.

4. Identify which VP pillars are most important for ISED and the ones you can influence most.

The underdog’ dilemma. If you can’t beat them, join them?

If you are a challenger vying for a piece of the action, your job is far more complex and the hill much steeper to climb. There is more homework to do and more variables to consider. Since hope is not a strategy, here are a set of categorized questions that you need to get clarity on before proceeding:

Competitive assessment

1. Determine the strengths and weaknesses of the incumbent's position using the BCM framework.

2. What advantages does the incumbent have that you need to overcome?

3. What is our unique value proposition that sets you apart from the incumbent? Is it sufficient to displace him?

Internal alignment

1. Does this opportunity fit within your strategic plan and aligned with your vision?

2. Do you have past performance on similar contracts (both in scope and complexity) to credibly bid, win and execute the contract profitably?

3. Does winning this bid position you for future opportunities? If so, are you willing to buy yourself into the market? Will you achieve it with competitive pricing? By acquisition?


1. Based on the answers to the above questions, should you bid on this opportunity?

2. If so, which procurement strategy is most advantageous for you?

3. How can you maximize the VP/ITBs under this procurement strategy?

4. Should you team up with another organization or position yourself a sub-contractor to increase your chances of success?

This is by no means a comprehensive list but simply a starting point to stimulate meaningful conversations in your Pursue/ No Pursue process.

If nothing else, it hopefully improved my ranking in the dumb questions competition but more importantly enhanced your competitive position.


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