Capture Management and the "Bah Humbug!" Factor (12-6-11)
Last week I sat in on our new Capture Management seminar Positioning To Win: The 4 Cs of Capture. In attendance were senior Capture Managers from several large contractors whose main remit these days has become training the next generation of their firms' capture managers and helping them win contracts.
A universal theme was the need to develop and adopt less onerous versions of their firms' prevailing "death by PowerPoint" capture decks. Needed is a process flow that can, at once, be usable, meet management needs, and act as a "best practices" roadmap for key elements of the capture process. The seminar utilizes a unique automated capture process that simplifies and meets these requirements.
Another common theme was the need to harness those activities that are missing from most capture processes - namely competitive analysis, Price to Win (PTW), strategic pricing, and information leverage and reuse. These missing pieces are essential for competing in what is fast becoming a "lowest priced, technically acceptable" marketplace that is dominated by GWAC Task Order competitions. Someone catchily suggested that re-emphasizing these critical capture planning elements amounts to what could be aptly described as "Competing In The Post-Shipley World."
As the seminar progressed it became evident to me that capture people naturally focus on the opportunity at hand. They typically go about the task of gathering needed information almost as though their opportunity involves a customer, competitors and personalities that they have never encountered before and, frankly, one they never expect to encounter any aspect of ever again. The negative consequence of this approach is that by ignoring the reusability (aka leverage) potential of the information that each pursuit generates enterprises continue to pay over and over in both elapsed and people time, as well as money, to learn information that has already beencollected. Accordingly, information about customer environments, competitors, personalities, and so forth gathered during earlier or concurrent pursuits should be pre-positioned, leveraged and updated by the present pursuit and the results pre-positioned for the next pursuit.
Another key issue relates to the relevance to capture of information that is time-based. This, and with the holidays looming, led me to use Dickens' A Christmas Carol as a fitting analogy wherein Scrooge is presented with cameos of his past, present and future.
The place in capture for information about the past is beyond question - but is it prolog when it comes to pricing? Past performance and personnel resumes fall into the past information category. The past should, in addition, yield information of a more strategic nature. This would include past customer tendencies in addition to past competitor teaming and pricing behaviors.
Information about the present is used by capture to establish links between opportunity requirements and what your firm and your competitors can presently offer in terms of solution, team, experience and price. Present information that is not so relevant to capture, however, includes prevailing price points for labor categories and ODCs. Why? Because we are bidding and pricing to win an opportunity that will start in the future (not in the present) and continue for 3, 5 or more years beyond that.
For capture success, information about the future is critically important. Needed is information that can help determine and propose how our solution and expected productivity enhancements are planned to improve costs and/or customer satisfaction over time. We should also plan how our team and/or team member participation will evolve over time. Of paramount significance information related to future price and how we expect its main drivers (e.g., labor and ODC costs) are likely to behave over the opportunity's period of performance. All assumptions (e.g., Obamacare becoming a reality) that support future price points and how you expect them to evolve over time, should be thoroughly documented and used to overcome what a government auditor thinks your historically-based future is. After all, we should be bidding a price that can win not one that just treads water.
Good luck and happy hunting!