This Q&A with Bob Lohfeld was originally published in Washington Technology magazine August 7, 2008.
by David Hubler
Q: What is capture management?
Lohfeld: Capture management is everything a company does to raise its win probability between the time it decides to pursue an expected government contract and the time the RFP is released.
Q: How does it work?
Lohfeld: After identifying an opportunity before the RFP is released, the company performs an early stage qualification review to make sure the deal fits the company and that there is a reasonable chance of winning. A capture team is then created from the line operation or from a standing group of capture executives. These are people who know how to orchestrate activities in the marketplace and in the company. They become the champions for the pursuit of the activity, bringing in technical experts, business development experts and consultants as needed. Together they form the capture team and go after the contract requirements.
Q: What do they need to know about the contract they’re going after?
Lohfeld: They need to try to learn the competition’s strategy, challenge its price to win, build a teaming strategy, put that in place and deal with the risk in a proactive way. All of these elements, if they are enacted properly, increase the probability that the company will be selected.
Q: Who are the best people in the company to make up a capture team?
Lohfeld: The responsible corporate executive designates a capture executive to represent him or her on the team. It would also include the business executive involved with the client agency, perhaps an operations or service delivery manager, a program manager who will perform the contract, the person who will write the response to the RFP, and a few subject-matter experts who will join the team from time to time as needed.
Q: How do you become a proficient capture manager?
Lohfeld: It takes great natural ability, it’s in their DNA and they know how to win, and great coaching. It is someone who can help raise your level of competitiveness in the market, not just march through the process.
If you’re going to play, become obsessed about winning. Anything short of that, you’re just a tourist in the market.
Q: What pitfalls do companies need to avoid when forming a capture management team?
Lohfeld: First, the capture executives must be the best and brightest employees in the company. Too often, companies don’t have that caliber of people or too few of them, and the task goes to people who aren’t ready to play at that level. The second pitfall is assuming that capture managers can also perform their regular day jobs. The third one is the one that probably galls me the most.
There are too many people in the market who call themselves capture managers when all they are really doing is populating PowerPoint charts with data they collect, which is inconsequential to increasing the win probability.
Q: How can small contractors use capture management?
Lohfeld: Smaller businesses go after smaller contracts. That can be done with just a couple of people, but the process is the same. It’s just scalable.