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Win Big the EXA Way

September 30, 2022
September 29, 2022
A Personal Perspective on Canadian Procurement by Alex McPhail, President

The EXA Way

A Personal Perspective on Canadian Procurement

Alex McPhail, President


When EXA first started providing capture and proposal support in 2004, our clients mainly comprised new entrants in the Canadian market. They were either first-time Canadian contractors, or foreign companies responding to their first Canadian RFP. They needed someone to guide them through the unique intricacies of Canadian procurement.


We still provide support to new entrant clients, but today they represent a small proportion of our market. The foreign clients we do support are bewildered by the complexity of Canadian procurement, and they are stunned by the tonnage of documents they must deliver in response to a typical RFP. Canadian procurement compares to nothing our foreign clients experience in their native markets.


As Canadians we have grown complacent to this gradual, unstoppable increase in RFP size and complexity. Canadian industry has become the proverbial slowly boiled frog. But when we stop and compare our procurement processes to other countries, we see Canada’s RFPs are unnecessarily large and complex. As a Canadian taxpayer, I wish Canada would simplify its procurement process to the point of rendering EXA’s services redundant. Sadly, Canadian RFPs are trending in the opposite direction.


Today, EXA’s clients are mostly well established, highly experienced Canadian contractors. Canadian procurement has grown so complicated, so convoluted, and so massive that most seasoned Canadian companies need specialized support. Canadian procurement has become akin to tax law — few understand its vast, arcane canon of rules, yet everyone must comply with it.


EXA specializes in large, complex RFPs, traditionally valued well above $100M.  We help our clients navigate through the inordinate complexities and intricacies of Canadian RFPs. To my surprise, clients have recently asked for EXA’s help in many smaller RFPs, such as $25M procurements, because the excessive scope and complexity of Canadian procurement insidiously creeps down to these smaller programs. I personally find this trend disheartening.


At EXA, we reduce the enormous volume and complexity of RFPs into a manageable sequence of tasks. We decompose convoluted RFP requirements into straight-forward elements that enable your experts to design the winning solution. We help you maximize your rated score by focusing writers in responding to the requirements completely and convincingly. We map a massive, complex RFP document onto an easy-to-follow checklist, similar to an airplane checklist, that prevents you from overlooking any detail in your 50,000-page proposal submission. We help you evaluate competitors’ approaches and exploit weaknesses in their proposals.  


The work EXA does is not a luxury. It is the cost of winning. And if you don’t win at least a few, you don’t survive.


A few companies succeed in doing everything on their own. As I said above, it is my wish that Canada simplify procurement so that every company can respond to Canadian RFPs without EXA’s help. Until that day arrives, we will be here.

EXA is Canada’s leading firm specializing in Capture and Proposal Leadership.

From small, strategic bids to programs over $100M, EXA leads pursuits of all sizes with 30 years of experience.

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