When you don’t have time for capture

I often get this question: “What to do when you have no time for capture?” These situations happen more often than we prefer: our management tells us we have to bid on something, NOW; or we are in a situation like a fast and furious task order environment and the window of communication with the government has long been shut. “Blue bird” opportunities look oh-so-tasty, but we just found out about them and the timeline to submit is oh-so-close.

The answer is simple: do as much as you can in the circumstances you have by running a “mini-capture.” Mini-capture means that some “normal” elements of capture will fall away naturally. Obviously, you are unlikely to have a key element of capture, customer interface, unless you have an existing relationship with the customer and you can “back door” it.

The other part of capture you won’t have time to worry about is competitive analysis. It is a good practice to keep your competitors in mind, but you can’t afford to worry about what they would do for more than a few minutes while you are in a mad scramble.

The most important component of mini-capture is research. You will sink or swim based on your ability to sift through the dirt and find the golden nuggets. The initial research is to find out the important facts about the opportunity. Follow a checklist or a template of what you need to know.

Then, run a mini-win-strategy session. The goal of the session is to come up with the critical requirements for this bid from your customer’s perspective, and then write a win theme for each that has a feature, a benefit, and proof. If you cannot satisfy some requirements or if you don’t have proof (or past performance) for a requirement, it means you need to find a teammate that can and does; or you need to dig deeper within your company. The win strategy session will also focus your continuing research: what other pieces of information are you missing? What more can you find out about customer’s needs and care-abouts?

Your solution development will then take place as part of your proposal process. You will have to brainstorm on a fly, develop your solution in “stove pipes,” and then have one person integrate all the pieces of your approach into a strong narrative.

Just for the record, we don’t recommend mini-capture to replace real capture – but we also relate to the real world challenges. If you need more insights on how to run a short-fuse capture (as well as the way it should be done in the longer timeframes), check out our upcoming class on Capture Management: How To Position to Win Before an RFP Issuance at www.ostglobalsolutions.com/capture-management-training.

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