6 min read

How to Win Government Contracts

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There are thousands of little details that must come together to submit a federal government proposal and even more to actually win government contracts. There are so many interactions that occur while managing team members, software tools, events, documents, meetings, schedules, and tasks.

These interactions can be difficult to balance, especially when combined with a vague RFP, stress, egos, medical concerns, vacations and holidays, long hours, changing requirements, and of course our very favorite – deadlines.

The entire BD process is focused on one HUGE Deadline, everything you do to reach that deadline – digging into the details and negotiating the interactions – revolves around time.



The Deadline


In the federal Government Contracting (GovCon) world, the Proposal Manager, is THE person most focused on the Deadline, which is dictated by the government and determines how and when actions are performed. Think about it – the Proposal Manager eats, sleeps, drinks, and lives the deadline. Both the deadline and the timeline to reach that deadline are always there.

  • How much time until proposal submission?
  • How many days until the next review?
  • How long will it take to format this volume?
  • How many hours do we allow for the Red Team Review?
  • When do we schedule a Pink Team?
  • When is the Past Performance Questionnaire (PPQ) due?
  • Have it to me by COB!
  • This needs attention now!
  • I will get to it soon!
  • ASAP!
  • Before!
  • After!

The list goes on and on. It is almost like we cannot put a coherent sentence together without mentioning an aspect of time. Let’s do a little dissection here about that limited resource.

Are You Ready to Run?

The average government proposal, response time is 30 days, some are 45 or 60, but 30 is average. Note that Task Order proposals usually follow a shorter timeline.

In the BD timeline, there are only two critical dates. The first is –– THE RFP HAS DROPPED!!! –– the most anticipated day in BD. Everyone gets excited about the RFP finally dropping. And when it drops, it sets off a chain reaction, really something like a nuclear chain reaction. So, you had better not get in its way. No one gets a vacation because THE RFP HAS DROPPED! I hope that baby doesn’t come early because THE RFP HAS DROPPED!

That 30-day period is like the beginning of a race. You wait at the starting line anxiously listening for the starting signal and then take off toward the finish line in a sprint! Run fast to cover the most distance! Run hard and stay focused (probably forgetting to keep a check on the competition) because you are pushing toward the goal!

The second critical date is –– THE PROPOSAL IS DUE! –– which is either the most dreaded day or the happiest day in BD, depending on how smoothly the proposal development process has been for you and your team.

24 Hours -2b

After a 30-day sprint, you will be exhausted and may have gone so fast that you missed important details. So, let's both explore how Capture and Proposal Management can work together for the win, and reflect upon how the timeline impacts BD actions.

The goal is to get more accomplished in less time, to make the race less painful, and to stretch the 30-day sprint into a 180-day power walk.


Why Do We Need More Time?

The Business Development Team must accomplish a list of very specific tasks to submit a proposal. The Shipley process for BD is 96 steps and incorporates 7 lifecycle phases, multiple customer milestones, company milestones (including 6 decision gates), 7 Color Team Reviews, and about 52 Outputs of documents, plans, and reports. It is the definitive capture and proposal guide.

  • It is thorough.
  • It is complete.
  • If you follow it, you will not inadvertently overlook important details during the bid process.

The first part of the BD Timeline - Qualification, Marketing, and Capture - may have 18 to over 40 months to get their tasks accomplished. Meanwhile, the proposal phase is compressed into a 30-day window. Notice something odd about this?


It is NOT very balanced!

24 Hours -3

If the team starts on this 30-day proposal process in a sprint after the RFP drops, everyone will be exhausted. It may go so quickly that you miss important details.

We need to change that.

We want to stretch that 30-days into 180 days so that the process is no longer a furious sprint. Rather, it will be an endurance race: a little power walking, some light jogging, and a few short sprints all run by a well-choreographed relay team. We will also prepare for the unavoidable hurdles that are bound to pop up.

While we will never have the same length of time for a proposal as we do for capture planning, we can reach a more balanced timeline.

24 Hours -4


We want to get MORE FROM 24 HOURS, so take a look at these strategies to help the Capture and Proposal management teams complete proposals with less stress, pain, and drama by maintaining a focus on the goal and using strategies save time:

  • Know Your Team

  • Plan Early to Avoid Problems

  • Set the Pace

  • Communicate with Your Team

  • Prepare for the Start Signal

  • Commit to the Team

  • Adjust and Improve

  • Nearing the Finish Line

  • Post-Race Recovery

  • Are you Ready to Win?


This is the 1st in a 12-part series Get More from 24 Hours. This series is based on the eBook Get More From 24 Hours in a Day and Win More Government Contracts, which contains the entire series with additional bonus content and tutorials. The eBook is evolved from a presentation at APMP's International Bid & Proposal Con 2021, given by OneTeam's Product Manager, Donna Hamby. Download your free copy of the eBook.

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OneTeam  is a complete, secure, cloud-based collaboration platform for GovCons to track, qualify, capture, propose and win more contracts with fewer resources by streamlining and automating processes. OneTeam was designed and developed by a federal government contractor to address the lack of resources and time, as well as the pain associated with winning government contracts.


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