Teaming strategies & guidelines

Selecting the winning team is one of the most important roles of the capture manager.

It is quite often the difference between winning and losing, especially when your company is not able to be the prime contractor. Some factors to keep in mind:

  • Develop the winning criteria for subcontractor (teammate) or prime contractor selection BEFORE selecting the teammates or prime. These criteria should be based on stated and perceived client needs as a result of reading procurement documentation and client visits (technical capabilities, solutions, company size, socioeconomic requirements, incumbency, etc.)
  • Consider the strategic advantages beyond this competition of teaming with a company. For example, penetration into new targeted markets or a future strategic prime contractor for small disadvantaged, 8(a), veteran, woman owned or HUB zone competitions
  • Evaluate each candidate company against these criteria to determine the best fit
  • Avoid teaming just because it’s someone you already know…team to win
  • Develop effective statements of work for areas to be subcontracted out

Prime contractor selection criteria to consider when your company is a sub-contractor include:

  • Technical role and work percentage being offered. Get it in writing. A teaming agreement that only promises your company a percentage of the work as a “goal” as opposed to a “commitment” is undesirable and should be avoided, if possible. Your objective should be to negotiate a specific minimum work percentage and lead responsibility for specific SOW areas.
  • Financial credibility/stability. Always run a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) report on a small company you are considering as a prime contractor to make sure they are financially viable and able to make payments in a timely manner. Also, ask other contacts in the industry about their experience teaming with this company. In cases where your company is a strongly desired prime but is also a payment risk, discuss with your company’s senior management whether to require an escrow account as part of the teaming arrangement. This will insure you in case the prime contractor’s cash flow proves insufficient to pay your invoices. However, this is often a sticky point to negotiate with small business owners who often take offense.
  • Client relationships and incumbency. Make sure the selected prime contractor has a good reputation with the client (don’t be afraid to ask the client what they think of different companies).
  • Key personnel. Having one or more of the company’s staff as key personnel in the proposal and at the oral presentation is highly desirable.
  • Ability to do a proposal. Ask small company prime contractors for examples of prior proposals. Recognize that most small companies are not capable of preparing a top quality proposal and will require extensive support from your company. Factor this proposal cost into the teaming decision and win probability calculation.
  • Past performance. Make sure the prime contractor has the necessary positive project citations most likely to be required in the RFP.
  • Competitive pricing capability. Have direct discussions about pricing strategy with potential prime contractors to make sure they can be cost competitive and also to avoid the prime contractor “squeezing” your labor rates or product pricing.
  • History of honoring agreements and treating subcontractors fairly.

Subcontractor teammate selection criteria to consider when your company will be the prime contractor include:

  • Client relationships and incumbency
  • Financial stability. Run a D&B report on any small company to make sure they are financially viable
  • Technical insight and capabilities in relation to ours
  • Key personnel
  • Past performance
  • Competitive pricing capability
  • History of helping with the proposal. If there are any doubts about a company’s ability to support the proposal effort, put a requirement that describes the specific support in the teaming agreement.
  • Do not make verbal teaming commitments without a company executive’s approval. Your company and a potential teaming partner may sign a non-disclosure agreement when it is necessary to discuss competition sensitive matters prior to actual teaming. However, the competitive information about your company’s capture strategy that you share with other company representatives should still be carefully guarded. All teaming agreements should be reviewed and approved by contracts prior to execution.

 Here is an example of a teaming assessment table:

Teaming assessment table

 Teaming Decision Matrix Template (Excel spreadsheet)

– Mike Lisagor


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