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

“Nothing endures but change. Change is the only constant.” –Heraclitus of Ephesus

Business transformation, process improvement, continual improvement, business process improvement. Call it what you will. The gist of the matter is that we constantly tinker with the “current state” trying to make it better, faster, more efficient, easier, or more reliable so that we can achieve our desired results.

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 eminently achievable, some wonderful end-state aspirations.

  1. If I were “King,” I would insist that a “yes” bid decision be made only after hard-headed, comprehensive data collection and customer dialog, resulting in a realistic chance to win. There is far too much irrationality in making bid decisions and far too little honest analysis of win probability. To sum up, “Hope is not a legitimate strategy.” –Maury Sweetin, Capture Manager/Proposal Manager/Red Team Captain/Volume Lead, Lohfeld Consulting Group
  2. I would emphasize that no proposal best practice can be substituted for a good working relationship with the customer; a knowledge of the customer’s business requirements, constraints, and budget tolerance; and an outstanding record of past performance. I would change the misconception that long hours result in a good proposal; actually the opposite is true most of the time. –Brenda Crist, APMP Fellow and Principal Consultant at Lohfeld Consulting Group
  3. Just one thing? As general statement, I wish procurement [organizations] would act like a machine and not make so many mistakes with timelines, conflicting instructions, and multi-year evaluation processes. My #1 specific change would be no more canceled procurements – especially after proposal gas been submitted. Big waste of money and time. –Hamid Moinamin, President, Inserso
  4. Make communicative, customer-focused graphics. Most graphics I see are made for the author of the graphics and not the decision maker. Most organizations make graphics that are confusing and submitter-centric. The author and proposal submitter are too familiar with the content to see their error and correct it. I recommend a graphics audit or involving a trained conceptualizer (someone trained to turn words and ideas into clear, compelling, winning proposal graphics). –Mike Parkinson, Principal, 24 Hour Company
  5. End extensions! They hurt 90% of the time and tend to make the process more difficult, redundant, elongated, and just painful to rearrange schedules. I would also place orals before the written proposal as a down-select tool for the government. Meet the people first, then get the written proposal from those they like. Discussions would follow. –Ben Rowland, Orals Coach
  6. The weakness in the proposal process that most concerns me is the development of the solution. Often this step is glossed over or skipped completely in the rush to get to pink team and start writing. Ideally, all proposals should have a solution that is developed collaboratively between the technical team and the proposal team (including the graphics artist). Often as proposal manager, I have to develop the annotated outline/storyboard with minimal access to the technical team (after all, they have day jobs). And, often this access is one-on-one discussions based on a single topic. The result is a compliant outline, but there is no story. This method also leads to inconsistencies as the technical resources who are writing are focused solely on getting their sections done as quickly as possible.What works best is to have a facilitated meeting with all the contributors and the proposal team that walks through the solution and decides on the general approach that best responds to the customer’s requirements. The benefit of spending this time (normally about 8 hours – depending on the scope and complexity of the requirement) is that the solution is fully integrated, redundancies are eliminated or minimized, the whole team has an overview of the whole proposed solution so they can avoid inconsistencies, and the graphics are fully integrated into the solution and are not dependent on the skills of the individual writers.Time and time again, I have found when I can pull the team together early (before pink team) and have them sit in a room together to work through the requirements, the proposal is tighter, more innovative, and easier to write. –Margie Regis, Proposal Manager, Management Resources Group

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!


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Lohfeld Consulting