APMP Gets National Media Coverage
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Posted by: APMP
(Washington, DC) — August 18, 2011 — The
Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP®) and several of its
members were the subject of a national media story this week with Bloomberg
media’s Bloomberg Government site.
The article titled Virtual War Rooms Aid Companies in $532 Billion Contract Market featured many
APMP members and is available exclusively to the company’s subscribers at www.bgov.com. You
can read the full story below.
Virtual War Rooms Aid Companies in $532 Billion Contract
By Leah Nylen | August 15, 2011
(Bloomberg) -- After a year and a half’s work, Eric
Gregory’s team at CACI International
Inc. was getting close to submitting their proposal for a federal
government contract when he realized a key document was missing.
Within five minutes, Gregory found it had been misplaced in
another folder, using custom software that can sift quickly through documents
and a proposal that had dozens of components and was several hundred pages in
"I have had experiences where this created major problems on
proposals before,” said Gregory, CACI’s vice president of capture and proposal
development. The software "saved us time, money and rework.”
Federal contractors have adopted elaborate metrics and
data-management processes to determine when and how to bid on work, said Rick
Harris, executive director of the Association
of Proposal Management Professionals. Now some are turning to tools
that help automate some of the myriad aspects of a bid.
Far from replacing the networking skills that have often driven
business success in government contracting, these new computer tools add a new
element to vendors’ competitive efforts. The processes have helped some
companies win as many as 90 percent of the bids they submit, Harris said.
"It’s the people and the process that determine a win or a
loss,” Harris said in an interview. "There are teams that are working in
different states or different parts of the world. You need that collaboration
software so you can update in real time.”
$3 Million Gamble
Vendors often risk 1 percent to 3 percent of the total value of
the contract on proposal efforts before knowing whether they’ll win the bid,
said Robert Lohfeld, chief executive officer of
Lohfeld Consulting Group Inc. and a former division president at Lockheed Martin Corp.
For a $100 million contract, that might amount to a $1 million
to $3 million bet. Many proposal managers still do most of their work by hand,
marking up documents and sending them via e-mail or traveling to another
location to work with a team at its "war room.”
• Lockheed Martin Corp.
• Northrop Grumman Corp.
• CACI International Inc.
• Hewlett-Packard Co.
That face-to-face approach can be expensive, said Michelle
Petty, owner of Propel
Consulting Inc., a proposal consulting firm in Austin, Texas. For one proposal
in 2009, the client paid more than $70,000 to bring 15 people on-site for three
weeks, she said.
"That’s a huge expense,” Petty said. The total cost of software
"is going to be much less expensive than having people continuously travel to
Dozens of automation and collaboration tools are now available
as companies seek ways to create virtual war rooms and make the proposal
process more efficient.
At CACI, proposal teams use Privia, a
product developed by closely held SpringCM, to pull in information from
government web sites on an agency’s needs and pull in market research or
analysis on previous contracts for the same work.
CACI’s capture management team can also upload documents, such
as information on potential competitors or teaming partners, and if it decides
to bid, the software helps manage version control, audit trails and real-time
collaboration on the hundreds or thousands of pages that go into a proposal.
SpringCM’s pricing starts at $16,000 and varies depending on the
number of users and hosting options, Michelle Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the
company, said in an e-mail.
Federal contractors have
adopted elaborate metrics and data-management processes to determine when and
how to bid on work, said Rick Harris. Photo Illustration: Rich
Photo Illustration: Rich Clement/Bloomberg
Federal contractors have
adopted elaborate metrics and
data-management processes to determine when and how to bid on work, said Rick Harris.
Another tool, VisibleThread, scans
documents and suggests wording changes to make the language clearer and remove
legal liability, said chief executive officer Fergal McGovern.
Proposal Software Inc.’s PMAPs 2011 specializes in proposal
assembly, helping vendors manage the process by pulling from a trove of
documents to quickly put together proposals and responses, said John A. Laurino, chief executive officer of the closely
held Westport, Connecticut company.
Nearly nine out of 10 proposal managers said adding automation
tools would improve their "win rates,” a metric that measures how often a
company succeeds in its contract bids, according to a May survey of 102
industry professionals conducted by VisibleThread at the APMP’s annual
Some long-time proposal professionals are less enthusiastic
about the use of automation tools.
Creating a defined and repeatable process is the key to
improving win rates, said Hélène Courard, vice president for corporate capture
management at Salient Federal
Solutions, an affiliate of Chicago-based private equity firm Frontenac Co. LLC. If you don’t understand the concept of
multiplication tables, using a calculator isn’t going to help, she said.
"Automation can certainly help in some areas,” said Courard.
"But I don’t think it’s the panacea.”
Associates Inc., one of the leading proposal and business development
companies, has stayed neutral on the use of automation tools, said Brad
Douglas, the firm’s vice president for business development.
Based in Davis County, Utah, Shipley counts Northrop Grumman Corp., Boeing Co. and Hewlett-Packard Co. among
its clients. The company developed a 96-step process, the Shipley Business Development Lifecycle, which
forms the basis for the proposal process used by many federal vendors.
Some of the major steps include identifying potential
opportunities that fit with a company’s long-term goals, assessing the
opportunity to define likely competitors, and planning the bid strategy and
Shipley recommends using content management software so that a
vendor can reuse content across proposals, said Douglas, who has worked for the
company for 21 years.
Limits to Automation
"If you try to automate much more than that without a
disciplined lifecycle process, it will probably fail,” he said.
Using Privia and other automation tools has helped CACI increase
the number of proposals it works on each year, Gregory said. It also lets him
track the progress of each opportunity or proposal without having to meet with
the team for an update.
"As we become more practiced at using these environments, it
will have a significant effect on our probability of win for any opportunity
and will perhaps increase our win rates,” Gregory said.
"Using these tools will have a positive effect on revenue growth
and profitability over the long haul.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Leah Nylen in Washington
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anne Laurent
vendors are adopting software tools, such as SpringCM's Privia, to increase
efficiency and quality in the proposal process as they bid on a total of $532
billion in government work.
software can cost anywhere from $16,000-$20,000 for a few licenses to several
hundred thousand dollars for a more customized product for a large company.
Vendors often spend between 1 percent to 3 percent of a contract's total value
on the bid process.
automation tools can make the proposal process more efficient, giving companies
the ability to pursue several more contracts each year. Nine out of 10 proposal
managers said adding automation tools would improve their so- called ''win
rates'' a metric that measures how often a company succeeds in its contract
bid, according to a recent survey.
Some large vendors already succeed more
than 90 percent of the time they bid on work. Automation tools could improve on
that ''win rate,'' helping bring more revenue to the company, consultants and
proposal professionals said.