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Helpful Hints for Capture Planning and Proposal Management

Helpful Hints for Capture Planning and Proposal Management

A recent industry event hosted by the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) focused on the development of proposals and featured key proposal managers and consultants from leading government contractors. The government was represented by contracting officers, project managers and program managers.

One of the most interesting sessions was a discussion focusing on "Capture Plan Development and Management." Three panel members each presented a different topic that dealt with the first phase of the government RFP response process. Each panelist is an GovWin member, Patty Nunn (Sr. VP for Strategic Programs @ INDUS), Kristin Dufrene (Sr Proposal Development Manager @ CACI), and Carole Dunn (President and Principal Consultant of Red Team Consulting).

Patty Nunn's topic was "Capture Management – Best Practices and Lessons Learned." Her main point was to focus on gathering information and making decisions. Information gathering included:

  1. Past Performance data

  2. Relevance – size, scope, complexity

  3. Competitive Intelligence

She also presented four tips for success in the Capture Plan process:

  1. Know Your Customer or Don't Bother

  2. Team Early and Only if required

  3. Apply Resources before RFP release (18-24 months)

  4. Sell Before RFP release

Kristin Dufrene's topic was "Handoff from Capture to Proposal Management – Best and Worst Case Scenarios". She used a "Good, Bad & Ugly" theme to highlight recent efforts at CACI where their planning overcame obstacles, both on the government side and internally, to get major wins, including winning a contract from 2 incumbents. All three scenarios resulted in wins for CACI.

The "Good" (must win) scenario was characterized by

  1. Early Planning & Organization

  2. Effective communication between Capture and Proposal Manager

  3. Early involvement of Proposal Manager in all phases of effort

  4. Regularly scheduled meetings

The "Bad" (takeaway – 2 incumbents) scenario was characterized by

  1. Early Planning & Organization

  2. Documented strategy

The "Ugly" (unexpected re-compete) scenario was characterized by

  1. Poor communication between Capture and Proposal Manager

  2. Shortcuts taken in proposal strategy

  3. Lack of effective QA

  4. Result was a win but with new metrics that will be difficult to manage

These scenarios showed the audience what works and what does not work in the Capture and Proposal Management process.

Carol Dunn's topic was "Effective Capture Management – Two Case Studies." The first Case Study was about "Unseating the Incumbent." She highlighted the process of a Navy program that was expiring and instead of issuing a recomplete, the Navy decided to use an upcoming Army RFP as the follow-on contract. The incumbent did not win the follow-on despite having a lower price due to the winning bidder having "excellent focus and understanding of the evaluation criteria." She also highlighted the steps used by the winning vendor in the capture and RFP response process which led to the win.

Her second Case Study was about a small company winning a large contract by defeating the incumbent. The presentation highlighted the steps in the process that helped the smaller company defeat the larger incumbent. These included:

  1. Focus on Past Performance contracts that were similar in size, scope and complexity.

  2. Customer needs were exceeded in the proposal due to the vendor knowing the customer's hot buttons.

All panel members agreed to start the Capture and Proposal Management process early, establish effective lines of communication between the Capture Manager and the Proposal Manager and to keep the lines of communication open.

There were other topics discussed during the event and one of the more energized topics dealt with Executive Summaries and when they should be composed, early or late in the RFP process. All panel members as well as the Government representatives agreed that the Executive Summary should be composed early so that the Proposal Manager can address all points in the summary.

The government representatives also were in a consensus that Traceability Matrices should be part of the vendors Capture Planning and Proposal Management process and should be included in the proposal to the government.

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