8 min read

Does Your Capability Matrix Actually Help You Build a Winning Team?

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How do you find the right teaming partners for a specific bid? Most prime contractors conduct a gap analysis of their own capabilities and experience and then use that gap analysis to create a capability matrix to assess the experience of potential teaming partners. There are many reasons why most prime contractors have teaming partners for upcoming contracts.

Reasons a prime contractor may select teaming partners include to: 

  • Provide capability that the prime company or team does not possess, so they help the team provide full PWS coverage. 

  • Have experience with a customer that is beneficial to the team. 

  • Contribute a past performance citation that meets recency and relevance requirements and fill a gap in the past performance volume. 

  • Have a unique tool or software that gives the team an advantage. 

  • Fulfill specific socio-economic categories that are required on the bid.

  • Provide writing or technical expertise to complete the technical approach.

  • Remove them as competition - sometimes it is a better option to team with a company, rather than compete against them.


Whatever the reason for adding team partners, the prime contractor still needs to know which teaming partners provide the most benefit to the team. How do you determine who will be the best teaming partner? Perform a quantitative assessment of each potential teaming partner by gathering information on their experience, contracts, and expertise. Then rate each one from the customer’s perspective.  


What is a Capability Matrix?

A capability matrix is a tool that helps identify the skills and strengths of each team member. It helps in creating a visual representation of the team's capabilities, which makes it easier for the Capture Manager to select the teaming partners while considering what this teaming is providing the team - a past performance citation, a socio-economic requirement, or one of the others reasons they would be needed on the team.


Teaming Partners Contribute to a Capability Matrix

Some or all of the teaming partners may need to provide a past performance citation for the Past Performance Volume. This is critical if you intend for subcontractors to provide stellar past performance citations to help your team; especially if they are a major subcontractor as defined by the RFP, or if you need them for complete PWS coverage.

The question is not who makes a good teaming partner, but rather: who the best teaming partner for your team’s specific needs for this bid is. As the prime contractor, you must determine what you need from a teaming partner. The prime should complete a PWS gap analysis so they know immediately if they have gaps in the PWS coverage.  

Historically, prime contractors ask potential teammates to complete a capability (meatball) chart aligning their capabilities with the Performance Work Statement (PWS) or Statement of Work (SOW). This helps the prime contractor ensure 100% coverage of the PWS/SOW and to prevent a weakness in the technical evaluation process.  


When a prime contractor provides a matrix to potential teammates to indicate experience in the PWS elements, potential teammates respond with a checkmark, unless further instructions are given. Those checkmarks can populate an impressive matrix to demonstrate the depth of the combined team capability, but they may not help the team be a strong contender if the capability checkmarks are not representative of strong past performance citations.

A winning team needs more than a simple capability in a technical area – the team needs strong execution on a similar contract, within a customer-determined time period, and exceptional CPARS.  

The Capture Manager needs to get the best data available BEFORE selecting teammates, so they can make the best decisions for the team. Teaming decisions are made to build the best team to increase the chances of winning. A winning team is built – it does not happen by accident.

A Capture Manager needs to evaluate each potential teaming partner’s strengths and weaknesses and create a plan to work together. If your team really wants to win the contract, each subcontractor needs to bring value to the team.  

The Capability Matrix checkmarks must translate into recent, relevant past performance citations to support the prime contractor’s position and increase the PWin. Many times, during the Proposal Development Phase, after the RFP drops, a team member decides they do not have recent, relevant, or similar past performance to cite for a specific PWS/SOW element. They may determine that their experience does not align closely enough with the criteria, or they may decide not ask that CO to complete a form because of a performance or personal issue. 

If this happens, your team may be missing an area of PWS/SOW coverage, which may put your team at a technical disadvantage. To avoid this issue, get accurate information during the Capture Phase. It is critical to know which team members can fill gaps in the PWS/SOW coverage. 

This is not an area where the Capture Manager wants to see surprises surface late in the proposal process. The most successful Capture Managers uncover past performance information during the Capture Phase, while there is time to look at other options, find a better teammate, build a stronger team, and not waste precious proposal time dealing with this issue. 


More Accurate Capability and Past Performance Data 

Do not rely on a traditional Capability Matrix or Gap Analysis to translate to past performance. Instead, use a Past Performance Evaluation Matrix that will also serve as a Gap Analysis.  Here is a list of questions that can be addressed in a Past Performance Evaluation Matrix:

  • Has your company been issued a contract from the government or a subcontract from a prime contractor, to perform the work of this PWS? 

  • Is this work active or completed within the last X years (whatever time period you anticipate in the Final RFP, or is in the Draft RFP, or in previous contract RFP) of the current solicitation date?  

  • If it is close to being out of the recency window, for example within 6 months of being ineligible, select a different contract and possibly a different teammate. RFPs can slip, and the RFP issue date is the date that determines recency.  

  • Is/was your performance such that you have no hesitation requesting a PPQ from your prime contractor or government CO, COTR, or COR? Will they be able to answer questions about your performance, and give you an outstanding reference? 

  • If you were a subcontractor, is your prime contractor on this past performance citation a competitor to your team on this solicitation? Can you be assured of a fair assessment? Are you comfortable calling/emailing them to see if they will complete the PPQ?  


Every PPQ requires a call or email to the CO, COR, or COTR to provide notification that a form is forthcoming. After your potential teammates answer the questions and complete your improved capability/past performance matrix, you now perform your due diligence and research the potential teammates, their performance and their contract citations. 

Make sure the Teaming Agreement spells out the required support you expect from teammates, and that if they fail to provide the support requested, their agreement can be cancelled, or workshare reduced. 

This rigorous selection of teaming partners helps to ensure that you have assembled the best team for the bid. The evaluation criteria determine what the term ‘best’ means. Your team needs to be the best team in the field, because the best team has the best chance of winning. To have the best team you need must have the strongest, most qualified, most respected, and most desired companies on your team! 



This is the 9th in a 11-part series focused on learning about Federal Government contracting and your response to RFPs as a government Contractor. Be sure and download our free graphics resources that you can edit and use in your next RFP response! Check back each week for another installment in the series. Happy Bidding!

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OneTeam is a complete, secure, cloud-native collaboration platform for GovCons to track, qualify, capture, propose and win more contracts with fewer resources by streamlining and automating processes. Our experienced team writes extensively about business development topics and best practices.

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