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An Insurgent's Guide To Unseating Incumbent Contractors (7-18-18)

The annual percentage of government contracting award dollars that represent follow-ons to existing contracts has always been ~80%. The message that insurgent bidders should draw from this is that to grow your government revenues, in what is largely a recompete market, firms need to protect their incumbencies and learn how to become serious, yet selective, insurgent bidders who, at core, have to be disrupters.
Protecting incumbencies has been the subject of several recent articles, APMP talks and is the subject of Nigel Thacker's excellent Amazon-available book entitled The Recompete Guide. What is glaringly missing in both print and discussion is any sort of "How To" that is focused on winning work away from incumbents. A book on this subject could/should be entitled: An Insurgent's Guide To Unseating Incumbent Contractors.
The publication that comes closest to meeting this need is another Amazon-available book Hope Is Not A Winning Strategy... But Price To Win (PTW) Is. Whether or not a competitive assessment study is undertaken by the incumbent or an insurgent, the process is identical. The analysis assesses which of the competitors has the ability, in the aggregate, to earn the most non-cost and cost award points. Study results should show the study sponsor the award points it has to earn to overcome all of its competitors.
A key issue for these sorts of studies is timing. The earlier in the capture process that an insurgent bidder performs its competitive analysis study the better. If study results indicate that the study sponsor cannot reasonably win, options include: modifying their team, solution or both; doubling down on competitive data collection; or, keeping unspent pursuit funds intact by curtailing their campaign. On the other hand, insurgents that perform their analysis study much later in the capture cycle significantly limit their ability to either adapt their offerings or curtail pursuit fund losses.
Insurgent bidders can draw some cheer from the fact that two decades ago incumbents retained recompetes most of the time. Today, well executed insurgent bids, for a variety of reasons, are doing a lot better. Key among the reasons for this has been the elevated importance of price and the pace of disruption.
Of course insurgent bidders always have the "do nothing" option with respect to performing any sort of analysis. Advocates of this timing option should remind themselves that for every single-award, competitive recompete there is always 1 winner and inevitably "n - 1" losers (where "n" is the number of bidders).
Good luck and happy hunting.
If your firm is grappling with when and how to gauge your likely success as an insurgent bidder, please call me at (301) 807 8171. I am always happy to discuss how CAI/SISCo can help improve your firm's approaches to unseating incumbents. We have been doing just this for over 35 years using Competitive Analysis and Price To Win (PTW) studies to predict what it will take for insurgent teams to win (i.e., beat all competitors).
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