A Polaris Playbook for “Pause”

capture management gwac idiq polaris proposal management Apr 18, 2022

I’ve heard the phrase “…time, tide, and formation wait for no one” thousands of times. (If you know, you know.)  Time indeed is a commodity that never stops, but every now and then we get a bit more of it, and the wise put even the smallest bit to good use.

In the world of US Government Procurement solicitation delays are commonplace. From RFI releases, to pre RFP release dates, to RFP releases, submission deadlines and award notifications one could count, with the fingers of a peace sign and still have more than one to spare, the few times a solicitation schedule has been executed as if written in stone. If that is the case, and delays are inherent to the solicitation process, the wise team would plan for it.

The careful part is not to “bank” on delays as in counting on them happening, and incorporating them into the schedule as “slack”. That planning approach would fall in the Jeopardy category “Proposal Mistakes & Unforced Errors that End Careers”. However, having a crisp and tidy playbook to execute when proposal delays happen is as critical as having a solid and well rehearsed “two minute drill” in football.

Out of the gates the POLARIS GWAC SB/WOSB release got into a “pause” to address a legal protest. So what should you do while the protest is resolved? What does your playbook say?  

Here are three suggestions for your playbook that assume your Capture team has identified the reason behind the delay, and has confirmed its duration.


1. Respect your resources, and the original schedule. Do a Bid/No-Bid.

It may be counter intuitive, but the last thing you should do is “pause” because the solicitation was put on pause. If you currently do this, I feel sad for your etch-a-sketch™ calendar.

As soon as practical after a pause is declared by the soliciting agency, conduct a Bid/No-bid. It need not be a major production, but should follow rigor. Evaluate the implications of the pause on the pursuit in question and others being handled by the capture and proposal teams as well. 

The impact on the pursuit itself may seem trivial if looked in isolation by its capture manager, but the delay may put at risk other captures of substantially greater impact and value that share SME and proposal resources.

If your team can do an effective Bid/No-Bid evaluating the pursuit in the context of all others, your overall Pwin and effectiveness will soar. Thus, be disciplined and don’t dismiss a 7-day delay as “nothing”. Try to re-schedule a SME you borrowed from production or engineering at the end of a fiscal quarter and let me know how that goes. 


2. Re-run your Qualification Matrix.

Assume that something is going to change after a pause. If you have not heard it, allow me to introduce the “50-50-90-10” axiom of proposal management (and sometimes life). When given a 50% probability for an event, 90% of the time you’ll chose incorrectly. (Which makes the math 45/55 all the time, but that is completely for another blog)

Rarely does the Government solicitation team pause without cause. Understanding the reasons that forced the delay is critical, but even more so is evaluating what could be the implications to your pursuit and team at large.

Take POLARIS for example, where the pause was related to Mentor-Protege/Joint Venture (MP/JV) related issues. If in your initial Qualification Matrix and your POLARIS Points Matrix you only qualify by being in a MP/JV relationship, what are the risks to your pursuit if MP/JVs were suddenly un-allowed? Modified?

Once you know the reason for the pause, press on to confirm that the reason has no material impact on you and your team’s pursuit. If you can’t confirm it (recall 50-50-90-10), then consider developing appropriate contingency plans.

Re-run your Qualification Matrix AND - Go back to recommendation #1.


3. Re-run your Compliance Matrix.

This one is saved for the moment after the resolution to the pause is posted. When that moment comes, and because you and your team re-ran the Qualification Matrix and developed contingency plans, you should be in position to quickly validate your Qualification Matrix and re-run the proposal Compliance Matrix.

You may be tempted to leave the Compliance Matrix for the color reviewers; don’t. Be a hero to your teammates and review the Compliance Matrix to make ensure:

  1. The revision to the solicitation has not added new, or changed the elements of compliance
  2. The revision to the solicitation has added an element that you can’t overcome.

You guessed it - run your Compliance Matrix AND - Go back to recommendation #1.

The key here is that the playbook has to be solid and well rehearsed. You can only get there if you work and train with your team consistently. Only then will these steps will be built into the “muscle memory” of the team.  

Remember, the steps above don’t have to be burdensome. Be practical, be focused and be wise and ready to use time when you get it. Use the current pause in the POLARIS pursuit to your team’s benefit.  

You'll find suggestions on how to pursue POLARIS in our POLARIS Capture and Proposal Management tools page and don’t forget also to download our Proposal Quick Start Guide.

Looking for more? Check out our other blogs here!

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A Polaris Playbook for “Pause”

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