Federal Contract Business Opportunities

For businesses of all sizes seeking to formally invest and pursue Federal, state and local government procurement opportunities, the sales and growth discipline of “capture management” is critical. We’re in constant discussion with our customer community and government procurement experts on how best to build and sustain an effective capture management process. And more importantly, how to actively, consistently use it. The Shipley Business Development Process Guide, which includes the discipline of capture management, is a widely-used method to follow with adaptations based on company size, government market, and the maturity of its sales team leadership. An automated, integrated, and data-driven management platform is critical to the success of capture management activities including: harvesting the sales and BD intelligence, building the response team, solidifying customer intimacy and responding to the RFP, RFQ or IDIQ solicitation. But how does such a platform support Capture Managers and the capture management process?

“Capture Management” defined – “is a disciplined approach to qualifying business opportunities and developing a win strategy to improve your probability of winning a strategic opportunity. Leadership that a qualified Capture Manager provides is critical to keeping the pursuit on track.”

– Shipley Associates.

Read also our article concerning a more detailed and simple description of the Capture Management process and tips to perfect it.

In most larger organizations, Sales, Business Development (BD) and Solutioning “Pre-Bid” staff are responsible for generating corporate relationships, evangelizing corporate messaging, and most importantly, finding and building a pipeline of short and longer-term opportunities to bid for or sell to the government. Selling to the government typically requires longer cycles of opportunity development and customer engagement, to position the company and its partners to decide whether to invest money in more formalized pursuit and proposal readiness activities. By “more formalized”, this means Capture Management.

We recently published our “5 Keys to Winning more Government Business” article, which addressed critical elements in the government sales and growth cycle in terms of capture, proposal preparation, and solicitation response. We identified managing and assessing PWin (probability of win), leveraging customer and incumbent intelligence, driving a “price-to-win” (PTW), and building a winning team as the most fundamental aspects of successful Capture Management.

As many customers agree, “Increased sales and growth of our B2G company through more RFP/RFQ wins can be directly attributed to structured, repeatable capture management processes along with an integrated, industry-leading platform to manage the entire pursuit lifecycle”.

Manage, Document the Process.

Across all the activities, schedules, people, procurement data, sales metrics and industry intelligence, the capture manager must keep to a plan – managing the process, managing the data, documenting everything. The C2P platform includes all the government pursuit task and schedule management features necessary to save time and effort throughout this process – freeing the capture manager to focus on critical assessment, decisions and coordinating team pursuit actions.

Decisions and actions the capture manager should initially focus on, once an opportunity has been identified and initially qualified by the sales or BD team, include:

  • Does it make strategic or tactical sense to pursue?
  • Does company do this type of work, as the agency’s mission requires?
  • What past performance is available, or required from teaming partners?
  • Is the potential revenue and profit worth the effort (ROI)?
  • What is the Probability of Win (PWin), as calculated and managed by C2P’s Government PWIN Opportunity Assessment Tool?

These decisions on risk and investment of effort can be aided by thinking of the market using a quadrant with existing and new customers as one axis and existing and new capabilities on the other. Targeting existing services to existing customers is lowest risk, while offering new services to new customers represents the greatest challenge.

Additional capture management steps critical not only to the win, but also to the ability of the company to repeat the process, validate the approach and effectiveness of capture management resources, and ultimately become more efficient and effective at selling more products and services to the government.

  • Get the Operations Manager’s buy-in – i.e. what is sold must be able to be delivered, and the government will apply extra risk to the response if the approach, personnel and deal structure are unreasonable plans in delivery.
  • Perform a gap analysis, against known or expected requirements. Ideally, the company should be able to do most of the work, provider most key personnel and subject matter expertise, with strategic teammates filling the gaps.
  • Determine who the Program Manager (PM) will be, and engage during as much of the capture and proposal process as possible. In most solicitation evaluations, the credentials and relationships of the PM are critical.
  • Re-evaluate PWin. Do this often during the capture management process, particularly as decisions regarding proposal response resources and consultants become necessary.
  • Don’t overlook the early and continuing opportunity for government customer and stakeholder B2G marketing and advertising, aligned with build of win themes, identification of incumbent weaknesses, and inclusion of customer events. Procurement teams, Prime contractors, teaming partners, potential employees – all need to understand and know the company’s value proposition, capabilities statement, opportunities, industry expertise and market presence.
  • Organize Gate reviews to validate company leadership and stakeholder buy-in to proceed along the same bid strategy, understanding and acknowledging all risks, issues, PWin impact. Also organize Solution reviews, as relevant, to ensure all SMEs can validate and verify the technical approach.
  • Constantly evaluate and compare information the government releases, like draft RFPs/SOWs, Industry Day guidance, “reading room” detail information and all other procurement intelligence – so that the capture plan and bid resource investments can be adjusted before the capture effort veers off course.

One final point to consider – maintain a good record of what has been done, by whom. When the sales, BD and capture intelligence grows quickly, it can become cumbersome to hunt down an email, find an opportunity update, or locate where a particular travel report or teammate qualification was stored. Using a unified platform like C2P makes centralizing, categorizing, accessing and reporting data for quick reference very efficient.

Knowing the Customer, and Their Stakeholders

The most important outcome of a successful capture process is validation of customer intimacy. In other words, knowing everything possible about the customer and their needs, and knowing that this customer already understands and validates your offer and approach (as much as can be revealed pre-RFP). This requires the capture manager to build and manage a customer engagement plan – aligned with the sales and BD relationship-building status – that gets the company and its products or services in front of the influencers. Influencers include the procurement team and advisors, interfacing agencies, industry analysts and experts, key government leaders and program personnel, plus key mission customers of the agency itself.

For larger companies, an internal influencer engagement plan is also necessary – i.e. connecting with those who provide decisions, validation, resources, early and often. Internal roles important to engage early and often include:

  • VP of Operations and/or Chief Operating Officer – this individual generally decides if an opportunity fits where they want to take the company, represents a deal structure it can support.
  • Operations Manager responsible for the work – while “selling” the work is different than “delivering” the work, the bid must be supported with a plan and resources from the company.
  • Pricing – as the offer or solution that will be proposed is developed, this includes an overall cost estimate – which must evolve into an actual price to the customer. This can be difficult, time-consuming work with many hands in the pie – and therefore is critical to continually engage.
  • Contracts – this team helps with Teaming Agreements, NDAs, contacts with the customer, past performance, and many other structural elements of the actual offer
  • Proposal Manager – They need to know what’s coming and what will be required to submit a compliant proposal. If it’s new work, this may not yet be known, but can be inferred from previous solicitations, collective sales/BD intelligence, and input from the growing team.

When the initial Gate Review is passed, to proceed with managed capture activities, it’s time to build the team. For most sizable government opportunities, the team will include those with incumbent knowledge, unique vendors and service providers, strategic partnerships for owning the marketplace, as well as commitments for key roles and sourcing providers. Focus on the gaps that need to be filled to ensure your team can cover the scope of work, but don’t overdo it. Customers may think a bid is more risky, with a complex, diverse and essentially hard to manage team – i.e. it may appear that seamless team integration isn’t workable, and that the lines of authority and interface with the government aren’t clear.

How do you know Capture Management is working, is effective – ways to measure

The ultimate outcome of an effective capture management process is ultimately to win the solicitation competition, win the work, engage a new customer with new revenue and profit. As the pursuit works its way through capture into proposal development and submission of the bid, many opportunities exist to monitor and assess positive progress in capture management.

At the heart of effective performance measurement of the capture process, is the integrated, data-driven capture management C2P platform – including a rich inventory of measures, metrics, reports and our industry-unique Pipeline Analytics Dashboard. Through this platform and regular pursuit team status meetings, various measures can and should be tracked to evaluate the capture management process success, including:

  • Regular cadence and communication, involvement of Sales/BD personnel
  • PWin improvement and status
  • Control of capture investment, i.e. “bid and proposal” (B&P) funds
  • Capture of critical, unique team members and their bid preparation commitment
  • Progress, reviews of capture plan
  • Progress, review of technical and management solution (i.e. “color reviews”)
  • Progress, review of proposal development, including narrative, graphics (color reviews)
  • Progress, review of “basis of estimate” (BOE), PTW and ultimate pricing details and narrative for the offer
  • Market and industry analysis, monitoring, positioning, including marketing performance analytics
  • Generation of reusable content, intelligence – to build pipeline, scale and standardize proposal responses
  • Wins!

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