As an opportunity moves through the phases of the opportunity lifecycle, it is supported by different roles or individuals.
The handoff of information and customer intelligence during each phase and between each role/person is vital to the success of the pursuit. When the handoff is fumbled or not executed properly, it reduces the win probability and can also negate the hard work and effort of everyone involved.
The following are a few best practices to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls that occur during the handoff between Capture and Proposals.
The graphic below highlights various handoff points to ensure the success of the opportunity pursuit by thoroughly relaying customer intelligence, win strategy, themes, and strategic messaging to the appropriate team members – Capture Manager, Proposal Manager, and proposal development team.
1. Capture Phase
During the Capture Phase, the Capture Manager and/or capture team are involved in the development of the capture plan and win strategy session. These items are the first tools that Capture can use to transfer their knowledge of the opportunity and customer to the proposal development team.
- Win Strategy Session and Capture Plan Development: The purpose of the win strategy session and development of the capture plan is to document the win strategy for a particular opportunity. The win strategy is unique to each opportunity and the input from the Capture Manager is vital to achieving a customer-centric response. Up to 80% of the capture plan is transferred to the proposal and used as a baseline or starting point for writers.
- Early Proposal Team Involvement: When possible, involve the Proposal Manager and proposal development team during the Capture and strategy discussions. Allowing the Proposal Manager and proposal development team to listen to these strategic conversations helps them understand the strategy for the opportunity and ensures it is translated correctly into the proposal.
2. Pre-RFP Phase
During the pre-RFP phase of the opportunity lifecycle, the Capture Manager and Proposal Manager work together to accomplish the following tasks:
- Proposal Plan Development: The Proposal Manager is responsible for developing a proposal plan, which is a best practice and highly effective tool that ensures your proposal remains compliant, is easy to follow and evaluate, and focuses on the customer.
The Proposal Manager builds the structure/outline of the proposal and with the help of the Capture Manager, aligns the strategic messaging and customer intelligence to the appropriate sections. The proposal plan serves as a valuable point of reference for the writers, ensuring their assigned sections incorporate the appropriate components of the win strategy.
- Win Theme Development: The Capture Manager and Proposal Manager, as well as other appropriate team members, work together to develop the win themes for the opportunity that will resonate with the customer. The information that feeds the win themes can be pulled from the capture plan and win strategy session notes and/or deliverables. Capture’s involvement in the win theme discussions ensures the themes remain customer-focused and relevant to the opportunity.
- Storyboarding/Section Strategy Template Development: During the storyboarding process and development of the section strategy templates, the Capture Manager relays information pertinent to each major section of the proposal. It is a best practice to facilitate storyboarding sessions during the pre-RFP phase of the opportunity lifecycle whenever possible. The Capture Manager helps the Proposal Manager and writers understand the most important points and messaging to include in each section. This guidance is important to help the writers plan and develop sections that are aligned to the customer’s needs, while also avoiding major rewrites later in the proposal development process.
- Blue Team Review: The Blue Team Review occurs during the pre-RFP phase and before sections of the proposal are written. The Blue Team focuses on the major messages, themes, and concepts of each section. The Blue Team also helps reviewers identify gaps and required SME support. The Capture Manager’s input during a Blue Team is vital to ensuring the section is headed in the right direction.
The Blue Team Review can be combined with the storyboarding and section strategy template discussions or conducted as part of an outline review for each section.
3. Final RFP Phase
During the Final RFP phase of the opportunity lifecycle, the Capture Manager and Proposal Manager work together to accomplish the following tasks:
- Kickoff Meeting: The kickoff meeting brings the entire team together to kick off the proposal development effort. It also allows everyone to start from the same common ground and understanding of the opportunity.
- Status Calls: Capture’s involvement in regular status calls ensures writers have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions as they work on developing content for their next review cycle.
- Updates: The Proposal Manager should work with the Capture Manager and appropriate proposal team members to update the following deliverables as needed once the final RFP is released:
- Win Strategy
- Proposal Plan
- Win Themes
- Section Strategy Templates
- Color Team Reviews: During the proposal development phase, the Proposal Manager will facilitate Color Team Reviews to gauge the progress of the proposal, as well as receive feedback from appropriate team members to improve the response.
4. Post-Submission Phase
During the Post-Submission phase of the opportunity lifecycle, the Capture Manager and Proposal Manager work together to accomplish the following tasks:
- Lessons Learned: Lessons learned enable the team to discuss the opportunity, what went right, and what needs to be improved. This feedback is important to making capture and proposal development improvements for the next opportunity.
- Post-Award Debrief: The post-award debrief focuses on the customer’s evaluation of the submission to include:
- Significant weaknesses or deficiencies in the proposal
- Overall cost/price, technical rating, and past performance references and past performance questionnaires (PPQs) (as applicable)
- Ranking of the offerors
- Summary of the rationale for award
The information the customer shares with you during the post-award debrief is additional intel you can use to identify areas for improvement within your capture and proposal development processes and adjust accordingly to mitigate these issues in future proposal responses.
Working together as a team enables a smooth and comprehensive handoff of information between Capture and proposal development. The handoff points highlighted above create a worthwhile opportunity pursuit and position your team for the best results upon submission.
The following handoff responsibility assignment matrix or RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed) chart can be used to help all team members understand the responsibilities and involvement required during each handoff point throughout the opportunity lifecycle. The RACI chart responsibilities and roles can be adjusted according to your organization’s process. By sharing a tool, such as the RACI chart with your team, you are helping all participants to understand their responsibilities and to follow a stable process that yields consistent results.