Transitioning from Capture to Proposal – What’s the Big Deal?

When the solicitation is released, the proposal manager takes over and the capture manager can move on to the next opportunity, right? Not so fast! If we accept the logic that it’s the capture manager’s job to devise the winning strategy and the proposal manager’s job to implement that strategy in the proposal, then winning new business only really works when the capture manager and the proposal manager forge a partnership. The capture manager provides the insight so the proposal manager can deliver the win.

If you’re following best practice by executing a capture plan before developing a proposal, then there are four keys to making sure the winning strategy makes its way into the evaluated proposal:

  1. Involve the proposal manager in the capture process
  2. Include the capture manager in proposal development
  3. Focus the capture efforts on the likely proposal instructions and evaluation criteria
  4. Implement a concrete approach to transferring capture information to the proposal team
Business development, capture, and proposal resources should communicate early to establish expectations

To ensure that the right information is conveyed at the right time, to the right people, it is important to outline the roles and rules of ownership. Every company is different, so make sure you define everyone’s roles upfront. Here are the basics:

  • Business development owns the customer relationship
  • Capture owns the strategy to win
  • Proposal owns the proposal process and deliverable to the customer
  • Operations/Projects own delivery execution

It’s not uncommon for two of these roles to be combined and led by one person; specifically, sometimes one person executes both the business development and capture roles. Similarly, sometimes one person will serve as both the capture manager and proposal manager. Whether or not roles are combined, the activities must still be performed and the information captured still needs to be conveyed to the proposal team.

💡 Pro Tip: If your company uses a gate/milestone review process during capture, make sure to include the assigned proposal manager during the capture phase gate reviews. While the proposal manager will mostly be in the mode of absorbing the key capture insights that will be critical for proposal content development, they may also contribute to the discussion by keeping the capture information and decision-making focused on the eventual proposal evaluation criteria.

What specific capture information should be shared with the proposal team?

It may be useful to organize the capture phase activities into workstreams. For each workstream there is an associated document, deliverable, or knowledge base. Typical capture workstreams are shown below, along with their descriptions and the associated knowledge bases. If your team is intentional about collecting and documenting the workstream information, you’ve created an easy mechanism through which this information is shared with the proposal development team.

Workstream Description Knowledge Base
Capture Plan A document that describes capture activities and outputs and is actively updated throughout the capture process, including new information as each capture work stream gathers materials to support the capture effort Capture Plan document – can be a PowerPoint slide deck, an Excel Worksheet, or a Word doc
Capabilities Analysis Review the scope of the opportunity, either through previous solicitations, draft SOW, or draft RFP, and an assessment of the company’s capabilities against the likely scope Capabilities Matrix based on the scope of work and indicating any gaps in capabilities
Win Themes Customer hot buttons, features of the approach and solution, how those features will provide benefits to the customer, where this work has been done previously, and where this information should be included in the proposal Win Themes documentation – often a table including descriptions of themes mapped to the likely evaluation criteria
Solution Development Development of all aspects of the “answer” that will be described in the proposal, including technical, management, and staffing solutions. Technical solution may include concept of operations, architecture designs, research activities, tools, technology, and the technical approach Solution review documentation describing how the scope of work will be accomplished and why that solution is the best for the customer on the procurement
Past Performance Solution Determination of the best past performance contracts to cite based on the scope of work and capabilities analysis Matrix that shows how the projects map to the scope of work
Teaming Assessment of possible teaming strategies to address capabilities gaps Matrix showing possible team members and how their capabilities and experience fill gaps and improve the probability of winning. Includes information on whether there is a previous relationship and identification of expected proposal support
Key Personnel Assessment of the likely key personnel requirements and determination of key personnel solutions that meet requirements and deliver benefits to the customer Matrix that shows staff capabilities to do the work – identifying key personnel and how they meet requirements

Here are several steps a Capture Manager can take to facilitate the connection between capture activities and proposal development:

  • Provide regular capture updates to proposal and contracts team
  • Participate in all strategy and contract negotiation discussions
  • Ensure all solutions, win themes, and competitive strategies are translated into the proposal
  • Participate in all gate and proposal review meetings
  • Drive the direct connection between pricing and non-price portions of the proposal
  • Coordinate input and follow through with key team members
Final Thoughts

Smart teams conduct thoughtful, thorough capture activities that drive the team toward a contract win. But too many teams create a false wall between capture and proposal phases—the result is a proposal that does not include all elements of the capture team’s win strategy. Starting at the beginning of the capture phase, build in connections between capture and proposal leaders to ensure that all the bright capture ideas make it into the proposal, and help you win.

Free Resource! Interactive capture to proposal transition checklist.