Octant Insights: Capture and Proposal Artifacts

They are called 'ARTIFACTS' for a reason!

definition: ARTIFACT: 1a : something created by humans usually for a practical purpose; especially: an object remaining from a particular period (Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artifact)

Now, I’m not trying to compare anyone involved in business development, capture, or proposals to cavemen. Wait…maybe….let me think, no, never mind, yes, I was right the first time; I’m really not doing that. Instead, let’s focus on the artifacts.

During the business development lifecycle (capture management, proposal management and task order management), you gather different types of intelligence on your customer, your competition, your teammates, and even yourself. All of it is used to help you develop your capture win strategy and implement it across all the lifecycle phases. For example, competitive analyses results not only are used to determine how you compare in the customer’s eyes, but to give you the data you need to help proposal writers effectively ghost the companies also bidding the opportunity and give cost analysts the framework to competitively price your solution.

Let’s face it, whether or not you made it to submitting a proposal, you have a lot of intelligence that could potentially aid in developing another bid. Whether the other players, such as the customer or your teammates, are the same or not, keeping your artifacts in one easily accessible place is advantageous for your teams. What do you do with all this historical information when everything is over, either because you made a no-bid decision during the process or because the customer awarded the contract? How can these artifacts be useful down the road?

Here are some examples of how these artifacts can be used in other ways:

Customer Intelligence:

  • You already know their hot buttons and pain points. When pursuing another opportunity with this customer or one for another customer with similar issues and needs, you have an understanding of how you approached developing your solution.
  • Over time, you will notice trends in what types of requirements the customer has in the RFP. For example, you may find that they they always put an emphasis on risk management, usually ask for bidders to submit a quality plan with the proposal, are fond of oral presentations, or bless your proposal team with 60-day turnarounds to submission. This type of information will not only tell you what skills you need on your proposal team, such as an orals coach, but also what pre-written content you can reuse, such as the quality plan, or even that you need to plan your schedule over 60 days.
  • If you have reached the point where you had a debrief with the customer, then you know how they viewed your proposed solution and price, especially useful data points to have when developing another response to one of their solicitations.
  • Apply the same information to a different customer with similar needs. Just finished a proposal with a killer solution to a specific problem and you are now faced with responding to a solicitation from a different customer with a similar problem? Why reinvent the wheel when you can tailor the solution you already have to meet the second customer’s requirements? Use the capture and proposal artifacts created when developing the first solution to help you develop the second one.

Competitive Intelligence:

  • You will gain an understanding of which competitors in your industry are the ones you are most likely to bid against
  • You will learn how the customer views you in relation to your various competitors, which will help you plan how to ghost the competition on future bids.
  • The debrief you receive from the customer will show you where in the customer’s ranking the proposed solutions and pricing from you and your competition placed.
  • Your proposal artifacts will include which discriminators and ghosting statements you used in the past against different competitors.
  • Keeping track of how your competitors bid will enable you to reasonably guess which programs they will use as past performance on specific bids.

Teammate Intelligence:

  • Remember that a bidder who is a competitor today can be a teammate tomorrow (and vice versa). In some circumstances, the capture artifacts you have regarding your competition can also apply to teammates.
  • Information you have gathered on teammates includes corporate experience, past performance, pricing data, and other traditional proposal artifacts. All this information is useful when the tables are turned and your teammate is now your competitor.
  • Notations describing whether the experience working with a specific company was positive or negative should be taking into consideration when deciding to team with them again in the future.

So, you see you gather and analyze a treasure trove of information during the business development, capture, and proposal phases. Maintaining it and ensuring everyone can retrieve it easily are important to improving your ability to always put your bid in the best position to be the winner.

– The Octant Best Practices Team

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