I confess. I have bid work without any previous capture effort and no firsthand knowledge of the customer’s requirements.

I understand that I just violated every proposal industry best practice and I may have to return my Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) certification.

It is clear, bidding without any knowledge of the customer requirements greatly diminishes the chance of winning and increases transition and operational risks.

So why do companies bid work without any capture effort when on paper it makes no sense? The root cause stems from how a company manages its pipeline.

A company with mature pipeline practices allocates sufficient time and resources for all its capture and proposal efforts. A company with an immature pipeline has gaps between bids, has not effectively allocated capture and proposal resources, and has failed to engage with the customer.

So, is it ever OK to submit a proposal on a bid when you have not done any capture work? Yes, there are certain limited circumstances when it is acceptable, such as when:

  • The work is new and in a specialized field where the company has notable subject matter expertise and qualifications.
  • The work comes from agency contract vehicle with a small number of pre-qualified bidders and the offeror’s company is well-known to the customer.
  • The company’s key personnel being bid on the contract are highly favored by the customer and the company has an excellent technical understanding and approach.
  • The company can offer a product that meets and exceeds all customer requirements and offers the customer multiple benefits and minimal risk.

However, before bidding without any capture, do your homework. Gather as much information as possible about the customer’s mission, requirements and contract award history. Identify potential competitors and their strengths and weaknesses.

Build a proposal with numerous benefits, since it is unclear, which benefit the customer will score, and ensure key personnel exceed the customer’s requirements and can add extra value to the contract.

Then, after you meet all those criteria, think twice before you bid without any previous capture or customer engagement.