How to Develop a Good Capture Plan, Part 1

Your company has just identified a future program that it wants to win, and you have been named Capture Manager. Congratulations!


Now what?

Your first step, and one of your most important responsibilities as capture manager, is to develop your capture plan. Typically documented in briefing (PowerPoint) form, a well-thought-out capture plan is a living document that will enable informed decision-making at all levels of the organization, throughout the business development process—and increase your probability of winning. Whether you are pursuing Federal, state/local, commercial, or international business, you need a capture plan for every opportunity.  You can tailor the plan (seek and document more or less information, and spend more or less time) according to the expected contract value, the overall acquisition timeline, and the importance of the program to your company. You will update your capture plan periodically, or whenever you receive or develop important new information related to the program. It will be the basis for every management briefing you give and every decision gate, right up to contract award.

The figure at right shows how the capture plan feeds into downstream activities, decisions, and work products (documents and reviews). Within each phase of the business development process (Capture, Proposal Planning, Proposal Development, and Post-Submittal), there are decisions and work products that depend on the information contained in the capture plan. For example, the capture plan provides the information needed to make the initial bid decision: whether or not you will go forward with the pursuit and commit the resources to plan and prepare to write a winning proposal. Assuming that the decision is “Yes, bid”, the proposal manager will use the capture plan to develop the proposal strategy, proposal management plan, win themes and messages, writers’ packages, and draft executive summary. Those work products depend on information contained in the capture plan, including:

·         win strategy

·         customer needs, requirements, and priorities

·         competitive analysis

·         customer decision-makers and their hot buttons

·         procurement schedule

·         evaluation criteria

·         features and benefits of your solution

The more up-to-date, comprehensive, and complete the capture plan, the better those work products will be. Better work products mean a better proposal. And a better proposal means a better chance to win.

Your capture plan will be supported by information that you and your team collect throughout the business development/pursuit process. This includes information about the customer, opportunity, market, competition, requirements, solution alternatives, your business case, and lessons learned. Intelligence gathering is critical to developing and maintaining a good capture plan. Many businesses underestimate the importance of intelligence gathering and the time and effort involved.

As capture manager, you should immediately establish a secure digital library for storing all capture-related information, and make it available to everyone on your team who has a need to know. Since your capture plan is proprietary and competition sensitive, it must be safeguarded.


So, how do you develop a good capture plan? A good capture plan answers three questions. The answers to these questions should be developed concurrently and updated continually.  In Part 2 of How to Develop a Good Capture Plan, we explain how to use the questions and their answers to develop a capture plan that is complete, useful to the business development/proposal teams, and effective in helping you win.

Kim Haynes, CP APMP, is a senior proposal manager with more than 30 years of experience managing programs and proposals for Federal, state/local, and commercial customers. Leading winning proposal teams makes her happy. Contact her at to share the joy.

Paul “Korky” Korkemaz is a business development specialist—capture manager, bid strategist, and competitive analyst—with nearly 40 years of industry experience in the Federal marketplace. Contact him at

Len Martinez, XPRT co-founder, has more than 40 years of experience in strategy development, business development, and capture; contract negotiations and contract start-up; and financial management, for commercial and Federal government customers. Contact him at

Joe Nash has led more than 200 Federal procurement activities in his 45 years with EPA, DOE, and as a consulting firm executive. Contact him at

Nancy Naumer, APMP, is a conceptual artist, graphic designer, desktop publisher, and oral presentation developer. She creates winning graphics using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and PowerPoint. She is an expert in visual thinking and production management. Contact her at

For a free XPRT consultation to assess what your business needs to bid and win US government and commercial contracts, for help with your capture plan, or for more information, contact XPRT at (844) 332-9778.

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