It’s a fact of life that government contracting experiences cyclical changes. Hang around in this game long enough, and you’ll start to recognize “patterns.” Over the last 25 plus years, I’ve seen government contracting shops experience cycles of expansion and contraction, staffed by well-trained professionals and maddeningly inexperienced folks.
I’ve seen emphasis on best value turn to low price technically acceptable (LPTA). Contracting groups force fitting every procurement they could into performance-based contracts – many of which had no business even being mentioned in the same breath as “performance-based.” Increases and decreases in the number of bid protests and changes in the government offices charged with adjudicating those protests.
Throughout all of these fluctuations and transformations, one thing remains constant. Business development (BD), capture, and proposal professionals have strong opinions about and desires for changes that would add sanity and structure to the entire procurement process and cut down on the “guess work.”
I recently asked a number of my colleagues, “What changes do you anticipate in the next 5 years for the capture/proposal industry, e.g., technology and tools, types of proposals, customers, training, lead time to prepare responses, pricing, etc.?” Here is the first set of their responses. How do their projections match up with yours?
- In the next 5 years, B&P budgets will be tighter, technology innovations will support productivity gains at modest costs, proposal processes will become more agile, proposals will be shorter in length, and capture/proposal personnel will be less specialized and able to do more with less – resulting in more training to close skill gaps. I also think more pricing tools and libraries will become available. –Brenda Crist, APMP Fellow and Principal Consultant at Lohfeld Consulting Group
- Better use of the “Framework.” I believe there will be a serious review of the truisms that are considered current “Best Practices.” Namely, Black Hats, storyboards, and color reviews have frequently become formulaic milestones, but most often do not encourage evolution of a draft to the final product. Hopefully, our clients, with our encouragement, will begin to apply these tools with more judgment based on the specific parameters of each opportunity. –Maury Sweetin, Capture Manager/Proposal Manager/Red Team Captain/Volume Lead, Lohfeld Consulting Group
- The good news: physical proposal rooms will be phased out as managers become more comfortable with virtual proposal technology. The bad news: as more and more government acquisition staff retire, RFP quality will decrease, making proposal work even more “exciting.” (And hopefully, the pendulum will swing back to best value from the current LPTA mindset – or at least, government COs will follow the FAR and recognize the correct form to use in solicitations). –Randy Richter, President, Richter & Company
- I think the capture/proposal industry will continue to grow. The government is getting more complex by the day, and every day new companies are chasing government work. End result will be crowded space – making the proposal that much more important to stand out. –Hamid Moinamin, President, Inserso
- I believe there will continue to be more and more competition for less work. As the government becomes inundated with bids, they will try to make their life easier with more page constraints, challenging proposal professionals to get the message across more succinctly. I also believe that the current LPTA trend will shift back to best value once the government realizes that nothing substitutes for quality. –Lisa Pafe, Principal Consultant, Lohfeld Consulting Group
- It seems like there will be less money to go around in the future, both in the federal sector as well as in the commercial as the government and businesses tighten their belts. Having a clear, well-written, and well-presented proposal or presentation is going to be even more important in making your company stand out. –Colleen Jolly, Principal, 24 Hour Company
- I expect to see more remote workers with specialized talents, e.g., resume specialists, past performance specialists, and digital artists. I also expect to see more graphics as mankind’s thirst for visuals increases and we as an industry get it that pictures sell. A move back to STOP and GO development (Sequential Thematic Organization of Proposals and Graphics Orientation) that was developed by Hughes Aircraft in the mid-60s. –Ben Rowland, Orals Coach
What changes do you anticipate in the next 5 years for the capture/proposal industry? Send an email to me at BWingate@LohfeldConsulting.com with your thoughts, and I’ll share your insights in upcoming posts!