“Do you guys use PWin?”
This is the question that we often ask a prospective client during a demo for Capture2Proposal. The answer varies. Some tell us that they use the Shipley Capture Management model, some have their own devised formulas and methodology, some say that they just give it an intuitive swag, and still others don’t use PWin at all. None of these answers are necessarily bad answers and I have yet to hear anyone say that using PWin as part of their opportunity assessment is a bad idea. Let’s explore the business case for each of these approaches.
There are various approaches to PWin, starting with an opportunity assessment that doesn’t use PWin at all. This works for companies with a very targeted customer base and an environment that is not extremely competitive. Often, these are niche companies who may have a patented solution that no one else can provide to the customer. They know their customers well, and their customers know them. The company knows what solicitations are coming out from their customers and have a pretty good idea that there is not going to be much competition. However, this is not always the case. We at times meet new prospects that simply have not fit PWin into their capture management process.
Next, are the Business Developers that have an intuitive feel for what their chances are of winning a bid. This can be an effective means of deriving PWin but requires knowing specific and hard-to-uncover details about an opportunity. It requires a good understanding of the customer; not just the end user, but also the mindset of the contracting shop that will issue the solicitation and oversee the evaluation of the bids received. Additionally, it requires knowing how to price out the work based on both customer expectations and what other potential bidders will bid. This methodology is only effective for seasoned capture management experts that really understand their swim lane well.
Here is a fact; the competitive landscape gets tougher and tougher. Many contracting shops are tightening up on how they do business. We have seen a lot of Contracting Officers and Specialists retire and be replaced by individuals with very little experience. On top of that, many companies sift through government business intelligence, looking for new revenue streams, meaning they are bidding opportunities with new customers…and sometimes winning. Another instance of the changing competitive environment is when a small business graduates into large business, and they subsequently become ineligible to bid some of the contracts that have helped them grow. The game is constantly changing for most companies when it comes to capture planning. To maintain and grow revenue, you must identify new opportunities, and you must understand how viable a competitor your company will be. It requires a thorough opportunity assessment and understanding of your PWin, which may need to be more substantial than just a gut instinct.
If the ever-changing competitive landscape is one of your capture management concerns, it may be time to join the third group: those that methodically determine their PWin. This group has discovered the benefits of detailed opportunity assessments early in the capture cycle. And most continue assessing an opportunity’s PWin as the capture management process moves forward. Why?
Three reasons immediately come to mind as to why seasoned capture management experts continually update their PWin scores:
- They want to make sure that they have not overlooked something that could be done to improve their PWin, thus their chances of winning the contract. Would adding another subcontractor help? Could they better position themselves in some way by making a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request? Could they establish a new cost center and become more competitive with pricing? The PWin element of the opportunity assessment is designed to show you areas that can be improved.
- The capture and proposal process costs money. If you can’t find a way to increase your PWin to an acceptable level, it may not be worth spending money to bid the solicitation. However, if an opportunity’s PWin is really high, you might want to invest top dollars for a federal proposal consultant to help with the bid. A methodically derived PWin can help you determine such things.
- The capture and proposal process requires people dedicated to creating proposal artifacts, organizing, writing, creating staffing plans, reviewing, and pricing. It is not uncommon for multiple government RFPs to hit the street at the same time. You may have to prioritize how you focus your resources. Though PWin will not be the only factor in helping you prioritize, it will certainly be an important one. Having carefully assessed PWin will allow you to make the best decisions when you are faced with the need to prioritize.
Capture2Proposal (C2P) provides a PWin calculator that is part of our business development software. It allows the BD or Capture Manager to conduct a thorough opportunity assessment of each item in your company’s BD Pipeline. It also provides informative tips on how to improve each area– something that’s very useful for those that may be new to the art of capture. Even for the seasoned capture management experts, it never hurts to occasionally review the basics. We all get busy and distracted, so a business development tool like this can help anyone improve their game. The PWin dashboard shows each iteration of your PWin assessment and allows you to observe how your strengths and weaknesses for that opportunity mature during its capture management process.
PWin is a valuable element in the bid/no bid decision-making process. As such, it is essential to have it as part of your BD pipeline view. Many companies determine the potential revenue of their opportunities by using PWin to create a weighted value. Since you know that you’re not going to win every opportunity that you bid, this provides you with realistic revenue expectations for your pipeline. In addition, this weighted value, compared with your estimated capture and proposal costs, will quickly let you know whether or not you can expect a good return on investment (ROI) from bidding an opportunity. C2P allows you to easily set up formulas for this weighted value and then display both PWin and weighted value in your BD pipeline reports and then share those reports with your BD team. PWin is an extremely valuable tool in the Capture Manager’s tool chest. However, it remains one of the most underutilized tools.