In a race, you cannot start running before the start signal. But you can prepare before the signal. You would not wait until the start signal to go to your designated lane or to get in the starting position. Instead, you would do everything that you could to prepare for the start signal. The same is true if you want to win government contracts, you must prepare for the bid.
Prepare for the RFP Release
We can prepare for the RFP release date (also called the 'drop date'), which is often considered the start signal for a proposal. The average 30-day proposal development timeline between ‘The RFP has Dropped!’ and 'The Proposal is Due!’ can be expanded. Since we cannot change the proposal due date, we must move some of the proposal activities back into the Capture Phase to create more free time in the schedule after the RFP drop date. It would be beneficial for most proposals to extend the Proposal Phase to 6 Months or more. Then, when you do get the start signal, it is not a sprint the entire way. You are already ahead of others due to your capture and pre-proposal planning activities.
A winning bid takes more than a good Capture Manager, Proposal Manager, or capture plan. It takes all of these plus the dedication of an entire team to reach the goal successfully. Not every company has designated Capture Managers and Proposal Managers, or divides responsibilities in the same way. But every BD lifecycle includes these overarching phases or stages:
- Identifying Opportunities
- Qualifying Opportunities
- Capture Activities
- Proposal Development
- Post-Submittal Activities
Your company may call these phases something else or have a greater or lesser number of phases. On this particular BD timeline, the Capture Phase is the longest. It may last anywhere from 3 months to 3 years. In comparison, the Proposal Phase, which has the most tasks to get accomplished in a short time period, may last 21 to 90 days, with 30 days being the average.
What is the number one thing you can do to prepare for the RFP to drop and for the initial start?
Develop Win Themes – Capture Manager
Win Themes are very important but not because one great sentence makes your proposal a winner. Win Themes make your proposal stronger because of HOW the Win Themes are created and implemented. Win Themes are the bridge that connects Capture to Proposal.
Win themes are important because:
- The WIN STRATEGY is created, refined, and validated by developing Win Themes.
- The PROCESS that you use to develop the Win Themes (i.e., research, data collection, team brainstorming, management buy-in, and customer validation) is critical to the proposal.
- The PEOPLE who develop the Win Themes – Capture Manager, Technical Experts, Management Team, Subcontractors, and Proposal Manger – are integral to win the bid.
- The TIMING of Win Theme development significantly impacts your proposal development and the maturity of the proposal.
- The CUSTOMER is the focus of the Win Themes, which leads to a better proposal.
- The IMPLEMENTATION of the Win Themes in the proposal determines how many points you score in the evaluation process.
Win Theme development has historically been the Capture Manager’s job. But Capture Managers and Proposal Managers should work together and use their unique skills to develop Win Themes that create a better strategy and result in a stronger proposal. Do not neglect this vital step until after the RFP drops. Get started on it early.
Capture Managers are the interface with the customer. They know the technical and contracting customers, making sure to learn about their personalities and how their personalities impact their evaluation. They are the ones who know the customer’s requirements, needs, concerns, issues, and hot buttons, which are the foundation of Win Themes.
This is the 6th 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.
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.