Psychics. Tea leaves. The evening stars. There are many options for reading into the future of your capture effort, but we at FedSavvy Strategies suggest that it’s better to stick with an evidence-based evaluation methodology. We live in a data-driven world; we should apply those principles – and not voodoo magic – to measure the strength of a capture effort. This is completely realistic and easy to do.
Consider an experience that I had while working for URS (now AECOM). We had used a moderately-successful-but-unreliable method to estimate success, one that was based more on win-loss statistics and golf games with colleagues than tangible progress. Determined to instill more rigor, one of our executives suggested that we put into place a few simple readiness measures. Using numeric values associated with the strength of the capture, we identified a series of success factors typically associated with successful capture efforts. Over time, we compared winning capture efforts against losing capture efforts and there was no surprise in the data. When the success factors were relatively high…wait for it…we won (most of the time). Conversely, when the scores were low, we almost always lost. This was important for individual pursuits, but it also helped us to understand much better when and why we won or lost as an organization.
This seems stunningly obvious, but so few companies use structured, reliable measurements to evaluate the readiness of their capture pursuits. It is easy enough to do. We examined the strength of the capture along specific factors.
What are these success factors?
- Customer insight
- Requirements insight
- Competition insight
- Teaming & gap analysis
- Key personnel
- Pricing strategy
All of the success factors are scored based on meeting pre-defined conditions of readiness. Scores are given only when a condition is met.
Here are some caveats to consider when using these success factors.
- Scores will be low when you’ve just started the capture effort – If you’re early in the capture process, your strength in most – if not all – scores for success factors will be low. Why? Because you’re just starting! Be realistic. Don’t jettison an opportunity because you have a lot of work left to do. Conversely, if your scores are high as you start a capture effort, then I’d challenge your honesty. Inflating scores in order to cover up weaknesses is not a path to success.
- Scores should be high as the RFP is close to release (or just was released) – If you know that the RFP is imminent, then you should have high readiness scores. If your scores are not high…well, it sounds like you’re not ready. It’s rare that a firm can win an opportunity that they barely understand. We all like to believe we’re smart… but that includes being smart enough to know when you’re likely to fail.
- Scores should climb steadily upward as you work the capture – If you’ve been working a capture for a few months, then you should be making progress toward understanding the technical requirements, customer needs, etc. If you’re not making progress, that should be a warning sign that (1) you are not executing the necessary actions to position for a win, (2) you need help understanding the issues surrounding the opportunity, and (3) maybe you have no business pursuing this contract in the first place. Number three is not intended to be an excuse to scuttle the pursuit, but at a minimum, shouldn’t you begin to question its viability?
Scoring your capture readiness is an important aspect of a holistic and robust business development process. If you want to avoid the palm-reading that’s typical of the industry, consider adding something simple like this basic system. Using It will keep your capture efforts grounded in reality and will allow you to better identify improvements based on your capture wins and losses.
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