4 min read

Beyond Meatballs — How to Build a Better Team with a Capability Matrix

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A meatball chart or capability matrix is often used by a prime contractor to evaluate potential partners and check for capability gaps. The proposed contract’s PWS (performance work statement) becomes a list of 'capabilities’ that is organized into a tabular format.  Each potential teaming partners is sent this capability table or matrix, and asked to identify which capabilities their companies can provide or has provided. This has become the de facto method for teaming partners to communicate their company capabilities and contract experience.  

But does a simple capability check give you enough information to build a winning team? 

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If you use only a meatball chart to determine teaming partners or subcontractors, you may experience a few surprises during the proposal writing process.

What happens when a teammate claims a certain capability, but later you discover that their past performance does not comply with the RFP recency criteria?

What if a teammate decides not to send the Past Performance Questionnaire (PPQ) to a government customer due to performance issues?

Or what if a teammate covers only one or two capabilities per contract, and you can allow them only one citation of past performance, but you need four of their capabilities to complete your PWS coverage? 

Why Teammates Matter

As prime contractor, you need two things from your government subcontractors – subject matter expertise for the technical volume and successful contract execution for the past performance volume. In the technical volume, you need their PWS expertise, demonstrated ability to resolve problems, use of specific hardware or software, and their ability to write about the PWS and develop solutions for the customer.

A teammate’s membership on the team must boost the team’s technical volume score. Since past performance is most often evaluated on a pass/fail basis, the team MUST meet every requirement of the contract. In the past performance volume, your teammate’s contributions must strengthen your team and show 100% coverage of the PWS with contracts that are relevant to the proposed solicitation.  

Make Better Teaming Decisions

Early in the capture process, the capture manager must gather this critical information from potential subcontractors, validate it against the opportunity information available, and make the best teaming decisions. Here are a few questions to ask potential team members about their capabilities: 

  • Does this capability represent company experience – not individual employee experience?

  • Does it meet RFP recency requirements – this could be in the last 3 to 7 years?

  • Does the potential teaming partner have positive CPARS? 

  • Will the potential subcontractor send the CO (or prime contractor) a PPQ and be certain of a positive response?

  • Can the subcontractor provide facts and data to provide details of work they performed?  

  • Will the contract citation meet the RFP requirements of similar size, scope, and complexity?

  • Can the potential teaming partner write about the technical approach, tools, success stories, and provide data on their performance? 

A Better Capability Matrix

One way to avoid last minute proposal surprises is to gather this detailed information with a better capability matrix. The traditional capability matrix has the right idea, but does not have enough detailed information to adequately evaluate teaming partners. An updated Capability and Past Performance Matrix builds the past performance evaluation criteria into the matrix and the decision-making process. This helps capture managers to assemble a team with the right scope of capabilities on relevant, recent contracts. This ensures that the team meets all requirements and increases the likelihood that the team's proposal receives higher marks on technical and past performance criteria.   

 New and Improved Capability Matrix 600


Download our Capture Management Toolkit, which contains a customizable Capability and Past Performance Matrix Template. It also contains an opportunity qualification matrix template, SWOT analysis template, and several other templates to use in your capture plan. These are designed to help you implement better capture processes so you can win more government contracts! 

download capture management toolkit


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