6 more changes experts would make to the BD, capture, and proposal process

“He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?” –Francis Bacon

In everything we do in business, we constantly work to make our products, processes, and procedures faster, more efficient, easier, cheaper, or more reliable to gain increased market share.

I asked a number of capture and proposal experts to share their responses to the question, “If you could change one thing about the business development, capture, or proposal life cycle or process, what would that be?”

Here are their responses – some achievable today, others worthy goals requiring increased cooperation between contractors and government/customers.

  1. I would change the way RFPs are built. I would ask that the government put the same rigor in their process that we put in on our end. –Brooke Crouter, Principal Consultant, Lohfeld Consulting Group
  2. Twenty years ago, the cost of software development was heavily back-end loaded – that is, most funding went into development and test rather than requirements analysis and design. Over time, developers learned that shifting money forward made the final product better. We need to learn that same lesson in terms of B&P funding. If we provide more funding earlier in the cycle, we can better identify programs we should not bid, more effectively influence programs that we should, build better solutions, and improve pWin. –Randy Richter, President, Richter & Company
  3. Responding to RFPs is an inherently inefficient and frustrating process. For the most part, RFPs are poorly written, filled with inconsistencies, generalities, and ambiguities. To make matters worse, the evaluation criteria is often vague, imprecise, confusing, and not aligned with the instructions. These poorly written RFPs result in a significant number of questions, amendments, delays, and even cancellation of bids altogether. Communication between the end customer and the bidding contractor is generally poor. Instead of passing email messages and documents over an electronic transom, I’d like to see a more open dialogue and meaningful exchange of information between customers and contractors. This approach will have a dramatic effect on the efficiency and effectiveness of both proposal development and proposal evaluation. More importantly, it has the potential to result in solutions that are better aligned with customer needs. Unfortunately, I don’t see this changing in the foreseeable future and would love to hear what others think about how to improve the communication gap between customers and contractors. –Chris Simmons, Principal, Rainmakerz Consulting, LLC
  4. I would like to see even more dialog between the proposal professionals and the government contracting community. I work exclusively in government contracting and too often see only the business developers and contract managers interacting with the customers. Proposal instructions and the government’s intent are often incomprehensible or ambiguous and, as proposal managers, we’re often brought in too late to ask clarifying questions that would enable us to outline and implement a clear, well-organized response. Across the various government acquisition activities, there is still a lot of inconsistency in the quality of solicitations from a proposal manager’s viewpoint. –Pat Cosimano, Owner of Pat Cosimano Wins LLC
  5. The tendency to involve too many people in writing and reviewing. I believe that lean teams are more effective. –Lisa Pafe, Principal Consultant, Lohfeld Consulting Group
  6. It would be nice to see the government standardize more of its solicitations to make it easier for them to convey their intentions and for bidders to understand them. Using more-effective solicitation templates that contain common, unambiguous language would enable government organizations to reduce the number of questions bidders tend to ask over and over. For example, how often do we see the same questions about whether 8 point font can be used for figures, whether a compliance matrix will count against page limits, or a sub-factor appears in the instructions but not the evaluation criteria? Standardized templates that employed more checkboxes, fill-in-the-blanks, and boilerplate text would reduce the amount of time it takes solicitation writers to specify these things, review them, and respond to bidders’ questions. –David C. Hilnbrand, Principal Consultant, DC Proposal Services, LLC

If you could change one thing about the business development, capture, or proposal life cycle or process, what would that be? Send an email to me at BWingate@LohfeldConsulting.com with your thoughts, and I’ll share your insights in upcoming posts!