The Art and Science of Government Contracting

Principles of Government Contracting Pipeline Management

Principles of Government Contracting Pipeline Management
Photo by Mike Benna / Unsplash

Having a well-designed government contracting pipeline gives your team superpowers.  It's a tool that helps your team efficiently and repeatably win opportunities using your collective relationships, capabilities, past performance, and talent.

When a pipeline is working well, the feeling is unmistakably magical – your team's operating cadence has a "lightness" to it. There's minimal friction to getting opportunities through your pipeline and your team has the time and energy to focus on high-impact decisions and activities.

Pipelines can also work against you, silently sapping energy from the team and impacting your win rates. What are the symptoms of a poorly-designed pipeline?

  • Your BD or proposal managers feel burnt out
  • Members of your team all maintain their own separate pipelines
  • Inefficient communication (i.e., too many meetings, duplicated work, misaligned priorities)
  • Your team makes unforced errors (i.e., missing an important update or deadline)
  • You miss high-value opportunities
  • You prioritized the wrong opportunities
  • Your revenue forecasts are inaccurate

To build a pipeline, we need a set of principles. Then, we can evaluate whether each step in your process is right for the size and complexity of your organization.

At NextStage, we've spoken to hundreds of companies about their pipeline. Here's what we learned.

In short:

  • Know the opportunities in your industry inside-out
  • Track opportunities: stay on top of changes to the opportunity, due dates, and decisions
  • Ownership breeds outcomes
  • Prioritize opportunities you can actually win
  • Focus on a few important and actionable metrics

Know the opportunities in your industry inside-out

GovCon teams should have a deep understanding of opportunities in their industry and among their core clients.

In practice, this means teams should have:

  • Efficient, repeatable, and reliable access to search all data sources
  • A regular process to identify and qualify new opportunities

Track opportunities

Have a single place to track all opportunities, competitive intelligence, and decisions.

Opportunity owners should be able to answer these basic questions:

  • Do the requirements match your team's capabilities?
  • What is your relationship with the customer?
  • Why should you pursue this opportunity?
  • What actions maximize our odds of winning (teaming, key contacts, etc.)?
  • When will the RFP get released and when is it due?
  • How much is this opportunity worth to your organization?
  • What is the strategic importance of this opportunity?

Your process should also include regular monitoring of the public data so you can respond directly to changing requirements and due dates.

Ownership breeds outcomes

Make sure that each opportunity has an owner, someone who is responsible for coordinating key capture and proposal activities.

Regularly review action items with their owners to keep opportunities flowing through the pipeline.

Prioritize opportunities you can actually win

Proposal resources are scarce and precious. At any given time, your team should be focused on the highest priority opportunities.

  • Have a realistic and standardized way to evaluate what opportunities matter most to your organization
  • Understand your team's proposal capacity, and make sure you're not exceeding it
  • Understand your proposal calendar and avoid resourcing conflicts
  • Constantly check that your team is focused on the right opportunities

Focus on a few important and actionable metrics

At a minimum, you should be able to answer these two questions:

  • How much revenue could you bring in?

    Gross (weighted) pipeline value: The total value of opportunities that you will submit bids for, weighted by their PWin
  • How successful were you at winning the revenue?

    Win rate: The percentage of opportunities won over a certain period. This is calculated by dividing the number of wins over the opportunities submitted.

Conclusion

With these principles, we can start to evaluate the gaps in your existing process and choose the right tools to build a robust and efficient pipeline. The most common pitfall is overcomplicating a pipeline, making it difficult for teams to adhere to a process.

In future posts, we'll show you how to avoid these costly mistakes so you can build a world-class government contracting pipeline. Here's a look at what's coming:

  • A practical guide to building your government contracting pipeline - Late January 2022
  • Common pitfalls in government contracting pipeline management - Mid February 2022
  • How to use PWin to forecast revenue - Late February 2022

If you've learned something from this post and would like to continue hearing from us, subscribe to the NextStage blog.

Looking to build or improve your pipeline? NextStage is the fastest and most affordable way to build a principled pipeline. Our platform is a one-stop-shop for identifying new opportunities (SAM, GSA, FPDS, CIO-SP3, and more), pipeline management, relationship management, and capture analytics. Get started in 5 minutes.

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Jamie Larson
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