How to Build a High-Performing GovCon Growth Team & Capture Process
Identify key roles needed on your GovCon team and start capture planning for winning government contracts.
by guest author Frank Sturek
Building your GovCon growth team and executing an efficient capture process to win federal government contracts requires a strategic and comprehensive approach.
The first step - building an effective team - should be centered around the market you are pursuing (DOD or FedCiv), the capabilities (products, services and/or solutions) your company delivers to customers, and the type of culture you desire to establish. Before you start recruiting, consider ways you can lay the groundwork for a high-performing team, such as:
- Establishing clear and achievable goals and metrics.
Set SMART (Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals for the team, including revenue targets, win rates, and proposal success rates. Develop metrics to track progress toward these goals and a plan to regularly review and adjust as needed.
- Developing a strong culture.
Create a culture of collaboration, continuous improvement, and accountability. Foster a positive work environment that rewards teamwork, creativity, and innovation.
- Investing in training and professional development.
Provide ongoing training and professional development opportunities to help team members stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends, technologies, and best practices.
- Leveraging technology.
Utilize technology platforms and tools that streamline the government contracting process, automate repetitive tasks, and enable team members to collaborate.
- Partnering with industry experts.
Forge partnerships with industry experts, including consultants, legal professionals, and other service providers. This will help you expand your network, gain industry insights, and enhance your team's capabilities
Building an Effective Team by Prioritizing Key Roles
Growing your GovCon team takes time and intentionality. From identifying the most important roles to recruiting the best talent, a lot goes into building an effective team. And every firm will have different needs. For example, if you have a well-developed and mature contract/solicitation pipeline, the likely need is a Capture Manager and a Proposal Manager, followed by a Contract Manager. If the pipeline is immature, the need is often a Business Development executive, followed by a Capture Manager. If you have existing contracts and you already have a Contract Manager, your need depends on the maturity of the pipeline.
What are the most important skills and attributes for the key roles on your growth team?
Business Development: Business development professionals should possess strong communication and interpersonal skills to build relationships with potential customers and partners. They should have a deep understanding of the federal contracting landscape, including the procurement process, regulations, and contract vehicles.
A successful business development executive must have relevant experience in government contracting. Knowledge of government procurement regulations, policies, and procedures is essential, including knowledge of FAR and DFAR regulations, as well as experience with various contract types (e.g., IDIQ, FFP, T&M). Familiarity with the different government agencies and their mission areas is also important, as well as an understanding of the types of products and services they procure. Lastly, they must have experience in the specific industry or domain that the organization is pursuing, as this can provide valuable insight into customer needs and preferences, as well as the competitive landscape.
Capture Management: Capture managers should be strategic thinkers who can analyze the market and identify new business opportunities. They should be able to lead cross-functional teams and collaborate with technical experts to develop winning strategies for pursuing government contracts.
A successful capture manager must have relevant experience in government contracting, as well as strong capture management skills. They should have similar government contracting experience as described for the business development executive, experience leading capture efforts from opportunity identification through proposal submission, and the ability to develop win strategies, assess the competition, and build strong teams. Additionally, experience in project management to ensure successful execution of the capture effort, including defining objectives, managing resources, and ensuring adherence to timelines and budgets are critical. Lastly, the capture manager should possess strong communication skills, including the ability to work effectively with customers, partners, and internal stakeholders.
Proposal Management: Proposal managers should be highly organized and detail-oriented, with excellent project management skills. They should have experience leading proposal development efforts, including coordinating with technical and business teams to create high-quality proposals that are compliant with government requirements.
A successful proposal manager must also have relevant experience in government contracting. They should have similar government contracting experience as described for the business development executive and capture manager. Extensive experience leading proposal teams and developing winning proposals is critical, including the ability to write clear and concise proposals that comply with government requirements. Strong writing and editing skills are also essential, including the ability to produce high-quality, compelling proposal content that meets customer requirements. Lastly, the proposal manager must have strong attention to detail, including the ability to ensure compliance with all proposal requirements and formatting guidelines. A certification as a Bid/Proposal Practitioner from The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) should be a desired requirement for hiring a proposal manager. At the very least you should plan to encourage your Proposal Manager to achieve this certification and continue to grow in their profession if you plan to win competitive Federal solicitations.
Contract Management: Contract managers should have strong negotiation skills and be able to manage complex contractual relationships with customers, partners, and subcontractors. They should have a deep understanding of government contracting regulations and be able to ensure compliance throughout the contract lifecycle.
Technical Expertise: Technical experts should possess deep domain knowledge in their respective areas of expertise. They should be able to work closely with capture and proposal managers to develop solutions that meet customer needs and requirements. This resource can be outsourced initially or hired on a contingent-to-win basis.
Recruiting Top Talent Hire experienced professionals with a proven track record of success in the federal government contracting space. Look for individuals who possess the technical expertise, domain knowledge, and relationship-building skills necessary to excel in their respective roles. Some tools that can be useful in this hiring process include Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), such as Greenhouse, Lever, and Workable, which can help you track and manage job postings, applications, and candidates. You can also use assessment tools, such as Predictive Index or DISC, to assess candidates' personality, communication, and working style to ensure a good cultural fit for the organization.
By following the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to building a high-performing growth team that is well-equipped to win federal government contracts and achieve your organization's goals. The next step is creating a successful capture process, which is critical to winning federal government contracts.
Here are some key principles to keep in mind when developing your capture process:
Early Engagement: Engage early with the government customer to understand their needs and objectives, and to build relationships with key stakeholders. This can help you shape your solution and tailor your approach to meet the customer's requirements.
Customer Focus: Put the customer at the center of your capture process. Develop a deep understanding of their needs, challenges, and goals, and tailor your approach to meet their requirements. Be responsive to feedback and be willing to adapt your solution to meet needs.
Strategic Thinking: Develop a strategic approach to pursuing government contracts. Analyze the market, identify new opportunities, and develop a plan for pursuing them. This includes conducting competitive intelligence to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and identify ways to differentiate your solution.
Collaborative Approach: Capture is a team sport. Bring together a cross-functional team of experts from business development, technical, and contract management functions to develop a winning solution. Encourage collaboration and open communication among team members to ensure that all perspectives are considered.
Rigorous Process: Develop a rigorous capture process that is tailored to your organization's strengths and capabilities. Establish clear roles and responsibilities for team members, set clear milestones and deadlines, and develop a plan for tracking progress against key performance indicators.
Continuous Improvement: Capture is an iterative process. Continuously evaluate your approach, learn from your successes and failures, and adjust your strategy accordingly. Regularly review your capture process to identify areas for improvement and implement changes to drive better results.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
When it comes to federal government contracts, each opportunity is unique and requires a tailored approach. However, successful captures often follow a structured and comprehensive process. The Shipley capture process is a proven approach to pursuing federal government contracts developed by Shipley Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in business development and proposal management.
The key principles of the Shipley capture process are:
Customer Focus: The customer is at the center of the capture process. Organizations must understand the customer's needs, preferences, and decision-making process to develop a winning solution.
Competitive Intelligence: Conduct a thorough analysis of the competitive landscape to understand the strengths and weaknesses of competitors and identify ways to differentiate your solution.
Value Proposition: Develop a compelling value proposition that clearly articulates the benefits of your solution and demonstrates how it meets the customer's requirements
Win Strategy: Develop a comprehensive win strategy that outlines the approach for pursuing the opportunity, including the teaming strategy, pricing strategy, and risk management approach.
Solution Development: Develop a solution that meets the customer's needs and aligns with your organization's capabilities and strengths.
Proposal Development: Develop a high-quality proposal that is compliant with government requirements, presents a compelling value proposition, and demonstrates a deep understanding of the customer's needs and preferences.
Continuous Improvement: Continuously evaluate the capture process to identify areas for improvement and implement changes to drive better results.
The Shipley capture process is tailored to the unique needs of the government procurement process and includes several key steps that are critical to success. These steps include identifying potential opportunities that align with your organization's capabilities, qualifying the opportunity to ensure it meets your strategic objectives, developing a deep understanding of the customer’s needs, and conducting a thorough analysis of the competitive landscape to differentiate your solution.
You’ll also develop a comprehensive strategy for pursuing the opportunity, a solution that meets the customers’ needs, and a high-quality, compliant proposal. The final step is evaluating your success by gathering feedback from the customer and stakeholders to adjust your approach for future opportunities.
Positioning Your Firm for Success Through People & Process
The Shipley process emphasizes customer focus, competitive intelligence, and value proposition development, which are key factors in developing winning solutions. Additionally, the process emphasizes continuous improvement, which enables organizations to learn from their successes and failures and adjust their approach accordingly.
By identifying key roles for your capture team, putting in the up-front work before hiring, and following a comprehensive capture process, you’ll be well positioned for success.
To learn more about the Shipley process, visit. www.shipleywins.com.
Frank Sturek is a proven leader and executive who understands how to build high-performing teams to deliver value. He is highly knowledgeable and experienced in Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), Business Development, New Business Capture, and growing Government Contracting (GovCon) businesses.
Frank has had a successful Business Development and Capture career that includes positions with three multi-billion dollar Defense Companies; Northrop Grumman, Engility and Alion Science and Technology, and more recently successfully growing small business GovCons. He is a retired US Army Infantry Officer with two combat tours, one each in Iraq and Afghanistan. Frank currently is the CEO of Compendium Federal Technology , an Engineering Services GovCon small business located in Lexington Park, MD
Ready for more insight from Frank? Check out two of his recent blogs, one about Growing Your GovCon – Key Principles to Set the Conditions for Success and the other about Strategy Before Structure: A Smart Growth Plan for GovCons.