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Is it always necessary to create graphics first? Ask the Proposal Doctor

Dear Proposal Doctor, My capture manager is insisting that we complete a big stack of graphics before we write any proposal text. We have a decent amount of time for this proposal, more than we usually get. But, my writers are worried about how long the graphics process will take and the compressed writing schedule that will surely follow. Is it always necessary to create graphics first? Where did this rule come from? How can I make it work with a team that does not really think visually? I understand the capture manager's point of view, but I also see where the writers are coming from. Please help. -Stuck in the Middle Dear Stuck, I am so glad you asked this question because it goes to a tension at the heart of our profession. Everyone wants the universal rule or the “best practice” (not my favorite term) that applies to...

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Why some companies embrace LPTA contracts

Lower barrier to entry means marginally credible firms have shot at winning procurements

Some companies are actively seeking lowest price, technically acceptable (LPTA) professional services bids—but they’re not the companies you’d think. You’d expect companies with deep experience in their fields that have honed their operating costs to the minimum and are operating at maximum efficiency to seek out LPTA bids where they could compete on price—but it is just the opposite. Inexperienced, marginally credible firms are finding LPTA procurements provide a unique opportunity to penetrate government market segments that they would otherwise have been unable to enter. Here’s how it works. LPTA lower the barrier to entry Under LPTA bids, the government awards contracts to offerors with minimally acceptable technical proposals rather than to offers with the best technical proposals as is normally done in best value trade-off procurements. In other words, the LPTA evaluation criteria provide no additional value to the market leader company over the market laggard company. To pass...

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Shaking an incumbent out of its complacent rut

Dear Proposal Doctor, I am working with a team that is about to bid on a contract for which they are the incumbents. They have been doing this work for a while and they get plenty of kudos from the customer. However, re-competes are always difficult. These people cannot generate any ideas about how to do things better or differently in the future. They are convinced that they have the answers and that the way they have been delivering services up until now is actually the best way. What can I do to throw a grenade into this scenario? I know that with this attitude, we will lose. -Scared Dear Scared, You are correct. The complacency of incumbent teams is now a thing of legends, and everyone has at least one story of the incumbent we were sure the customer loved who lost and, in some instances, lost big. The...

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Can you hire an effective capture manager?

Three tips for finding the right person

The CEO of a mid-tier company asked me why many capture managers turn out to be ineffective and, in his case, could he have done something differently in the interview process to predict their effectiveness before hiring them. This is a difficult question because most capture managers will interview well, but some will not live up to expectations once on the job. I thought I would share some insights about this situation in this article. The triple threat Capture managers are part business development (BD) manager, part project manager, and part proposal manager. In this hybrid role, they serve to prepare a company to compete for and win the larger, more-complex bids in the government market and are appointed when a company makes a decision to pursue a particular procurement. You should view capture managers as a triple threat—professionals who are skilled in the three areas of BD, project management,...

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