4 min read

How to Win Government Contracts

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Growing a healthy federal contracting business depends on submitting a consistent stream of quality proposals that meet or exceed all the requirements of the government’s Request for Proposal (RFP) at a competitive price.

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“Capture Management (opportunity management) is a disciplined approach to qualifying business opportunities and developing a win strategy to improve your probability of winning a strategic opportunity.” - Shipley Associates

Personally, I would add “methodical information gathering and customer interaction” to the list of steps to improving PWin. Given that, writing good proposals starts with good opportunity qualification — the process by which you find the right opportunities that fit your past performance, corporate capabilities, and cost profile. Throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks (aka bidding on everything) isn’t business development… it’s guessing.

Targeting Contracts 

While you don’t have to have the exact past performance to match an opportunity that you’re considering going after, you (or your teaming partners) need to be close. The government customer has to feel comfortable that the work you’re citing as past performance shows that you understand THEIR work and THEIR needs well enough that they are at low risk of performance failure. If you’re a software development company and you’re trying to bid on hypersonic work, the government customer will immediately see RISK and score your proposal poorly across the board. If you’re a software development company you can probably bid on software support opportunities, as these two areas are ancillary to each other.

In addition to determining how the target opportunity fits within your past performance and capabilities to bid, you need to understand how it fits against your cost profile. Has this potential customer awarded this type of contract work to the lowest bidder, for the last three contract cycles, and appears poised to do the same this time? Does your cost profile allow for going after this lowest-cost type work? Or does your cost profile lend itself to best-value competitions, where the government is willing to pay a little more, to get more?

Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential opportunities through this qualification process, you develop capture plans and action plans for those that you intend to pursue further.

  • What meetings do you or your team schedule with customer contacts?
  • What are your objectives for each of those meetings?
  • What type of evaluation criteria does the customer plan to use?
  • What contract vehicle?
  • What industry partners are you going to meet with?
  • How does the customer perceive the incumbent?
  • Are there gaps in your capabilities you need to fill with teaming partners?
  • Are there gaps in your customer insights/intimacy you need to fill with teaming partners?

The bottom line is that the process of writing a good proposal starts LONG before your proposal manager even gets involved. The ability to write good proposals depends heavily on really understanding what the customers’ needs are, what their pain points are, what contractor’s they trust (and those they don’t), where they hope to take their organization, socializing your solutions in advance, etc. Writing good proposals depends on good capture management, and good capture management takes time. Good capture work takes even more time now that many contracting officers and program managers are working remotely due to COVID-19. Everything takes longer.

Look 18-24 Months Ahead

All of these factors make it critical that we look 18-24 months into the future for target opportunities to bid. The winning teams will likely be finalized 9-12 months prior to final RFP release, so getting ahead of these opportunities is critical. You will be managing multiple leads, across multiple timeframes, it’s critical to have an effective opportunity management tool to be able to effectively capture government contracts.

OneTeam gives your team one online location, accessible from any device, to effectively record all of your capture management activities. It automatically pulls updates from Deltek GovWin IQ™ and lets your whole team see all the activity related to any opportunity. Say the KO told the GovWin IQ™ analyst that they now expect the draft RFP in the 3rd QTR 2021, you’ll see that in your feed. Or, imagine in preparation for teaming, your Proposal Manager asked five potential teaming partners to complete capabilities matrices in OneTeam. You’ll see them in your feed as they come in… and you can immediately see where any gaps are in your coverage of the PWS, without any cumbersome spreadsheets. You can identify federal contractors and view their government contracts awarded using OneTeam's robust search function that pulls data from SAM and FPDS.

Someone new is assigned to an opportunity? They can immediately open the opportunity and see everything about it… every conversation, every update, every document, all in one place, on their phone, tablet, laptop, desktop—to win, you need a platform that helps you do that. From searching for teaming partners to support your responses on federal RFPs to capture and bid activities from GovWin, the OneTeam platform supports your business development needs in these and many other ways. Discover more about the functionality and solutions for your organization available from OneTeam.

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