As a part of our guide to small business contracting, we emphasized that you should not rely on the “throw things at the wall and see what sticks” kind of business development strategy, especially after going through all of the steps necessary to get your business ready for Federal contracting. With that in mind, EZGovOpps analysts have put together a guide on how to develop and a implement a business development pipeline for use in the Federal contracting market.
The minimal business development plan we described above has a number of issues that could easily be solved. First, this kind of development plan doesn’t actually involve a lot of planning. As a whole, this is a reactive business model where you are building proposals in the final stages of the procurement process, having foregone any work or involvement earlier and without a good idea of what you’ll win. So, where and how do you start building a business development pipeline?
At a minimum, successful contractors will break up contract “capture management” into a number of areas for separate team members to tackle. These areas can be broken into categories such as Business Development, Technical and Pricing, Proposal Management, and Program Management. These areas were listed in a very specific order, as this is traditionally the order in which a contracting opportunity should be handled by an interested vendor. The larger the team, the more the tasks can be broken up, but these should still be the main areas of focus for any potential contractor.
Business development is the first stage and as we have already emphasized, should start much earlier than in a final solicitation period. Business development requires the identification of opportunities, developing an understanding of the opportunities and the customer needs, and helping the rest of the team put together a strategy. Human intelligence, which we covered previously as it relates to contracting, is very important in business development. Not only will you build a better relationship with the customer and gain a better understanding of the contracting requirements, you may even have an opportunity to change the contracting requirements through early discussions with the customer and involvement in the entire procurement process. With your leads identified so far ahead of time, you have now begun to build your pipeline and a comprehensive strategy.
With a large list of opportunities, your team can now begin narrowing the pipeline. Your company strategy and capabilities will dictate how big your opportunities list will be in the beginning stages. With the broad understanding of your company strategy, any opportunities that fit your profile can be tasked to your technical and pricing teams for a more detailed look at what would be required. If your services meet the technical qualifications for a contract, then your team can begin drawing up the specific technical and pricing solutions to be passed on to the proposal team. By this time, your pipeline should be narrowed significantly from your original list of opportunities. Between broader company strategy and a more focused look at your capabilities, the number of contracts you are pursuing could be much smaller. The number of contracts you actually win will narrow your pipeline even further, depending on certain variables.
Once you begin building such a pipeline, you will be able to gain a better understanding of your contracting successes, which will impact your pipeline strategies in the future. Starting early in the process, as we recommended, will allow your to prepare for a high number of bids, which will leave you with a relatively high bid rate and in turn a wider pipeline of potential contract wins. As you begin to keep track of your contract awards versus your bid rate, you will start to gain a much better understanding of your real, concrete win rate in the Federal market. Having these numbers, combined with other important business measures like guaranteed income and company health will influence your decision-making for the better.
Of course, a contract win rate could be impacted by your own decisions. If you are careful to bid only on guaranteed wins, you may have a 100% win rate, but perhaps a lower revenue in the end. Building a stable contracting pipeline can require a careful balance, with attention to your company weaknesses and strengths, and the ability to prioritize where your BD, Technical, and Proposal teams focus their efforts.
Powerful tools in EZGovOpps allow you to build a pipeline and maintain a bid process with your team. Personalized profiles allow automatic collection of potential opportunities from the very beginning of the contracting process based on exact criteria set by you. As a complete, cohesive environment for tracking opportunities, the platform offers solo or joint workflow for the assignment of priority levels, custom tags, management of mod alerts and team members, and importing opportunities from other platforms/sources. While building your pipeline, you’ll be receiving custom analyst updates and procurement trends which provide the market intelligence needed to succeed in Federal contracting today. For a closer look at the capabilities, sign up for a free trial today.
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