Is a pipeline a list of opportunities to spend your time pursuing, or is it a portfolio of investments you want to derive value from?
When you ask a question like this, most people choose the latter definition. Of course, you want to derive value from your pipeline. It is the lifeline of your business, but have you ever really considered it a portfolio rather than a set of discrete opportunities? Why would it be important to look at this way? Well, we could just ask an investment counselor - what happens when someone just thinks about the individual items they own, rather than looking at their investments as a whole, and balancing their allocation of capital against market trends and risk factors in order to maximize yield. Yes, it can get complicated, but that is why professional investment counselors exist, and why they generally do better at creating wealth than individuals who go it alone.
So, without going down some deep rabbit hole, what does this mean for your pipeline? It means you need to plan your portfolio of investments with an eye toward leveraging your resources, maximizing your opportunities, and minimizing your risk. That would require, to start, a process for actually planning what your pipeline should look like in its entirety, rather than just looking at how many opportunities are in your list.
This includes a few things:
Balancing your opportunity profile between types of bids.
At the simplest level, this means just deciding how many prime vs. subcontracting opportunities you should have.
Having certain performance metrics you can plan against.
Industry average P-Win factors, average contract size, average contract length, ability to convert opportunities to bids, and some others (our BizPipe Planner uses 10 metrics.).
Using all of this information in a planning model - one that would produce a profile of what you need your pipeline to look like, what performance levels you need to achieve to produce the yield (revenue growth) you are seeking, what resources would be needed to execute the plan, and what the risk factor is in terms of your probability of success.
If you are are a BizPipe client, you have just such a modeling tool as part of your BD-Architect system. If you are not, you need to consider how to construct one. Without it, you are just throwing darts at the wall. Some will hit the mark, and you might be a big winner on occasion, but you will have a difficult time producing reliable growth, year after year - that is our goal for every BizPipe client.