Archive for WinCenter

WinCenter v3.0 Launched at APMP 2014 and Hits on Best Practice Shifts

apmp

Earlier this month, our partner Lohfeld Consulting Group launched WinCenter v3.0 at the APMP 2014 conference in Chicago. It was big news for practitioners of complex business development.  I was there to support Lohfeld.  In this article, I’ll talk about how the product was received and how it reflects the changes in the best practices of practitioners.

WinCenter Background

WinCenter is a software system for integrated capture and proposal management.  It is built using CorasWorks and runs on Microsoft SharePoint.  It is purpose-built for Federal Government Contractors, but, can also be applied to complex commercial business development.  Unlike database systems or document management systems, it is process-centric reflecting the phase-based process used by Federal Contractors or commercial organizations.

Up until now, the activities of capture and proposal development have been served by separate tools – largely, CRM for capture and document management for proposal development.  With WinCenter, these activities become part of one system, driving and reinforcing the well known process of business development.  The benefits in productivity and win effectiveness are dramatic.

APMP Practitioner Experience

The majority of APMP practitioners work with the Federal government.  However, this year there was about 30% of participants that manage complex RFP responses for commercial organizations.  For both groups, WinCenter is the first off-the-shelf product that provides integrated capture and proposal management.  The best practice (on paper) is a phase-based process that integrates the two activities.  So, practitioners were very interested to see how it all comes together in a software system.

The experience differed depending on the role of person that we were demoing.  If the person was a BD exec, they quickly got the value of an integrated tool. They fully know the pain and loss in productivity of having separate teams and tools with little visibility.  If they were a capture person or a proposal person they would initially come from their perspective.  Importantly, they didn’t necessarily know what the other group did or how they impact their work or are impacted.  Through the demo they started to get a feel for the full process, their role within it, and, how they could work better.

An important part of WinCenter’s design is that while it is one process, it is role based.  So, users can see the full picture, but, their work is presented to them in an optimized way.

APMP and Increased Capture Emphasis

Historically, APMP has focused on proposal work which is why APMP stands for Association of Proposal Management Professionals.  Yet, this year there was an increased emphasis on capture.  This is being reflected (or some say driven) by the local APMP Chapters.  This evolution is simply the industry recognition that winning is the real driver and winning requires both capture and proposal activities that are good and coordinated. Clearly, WinCenter addresses this situation.

Phased-Based Process for Commercial

In addition, there are changes in the commercial world.  Much of commercial business is now complex solution selling.  The practitioners in the Federal space have a well defined phase-based process.  Increasingly, this phase-based approach is being adopted by those pursuing commercial business.  A phased-based approach to business development is very different from using a CRM like Salesforce in a classic database, transactional mode.  It is about guiding, driving and automating the work that drives an opportunity through the phases of the process.  WinCenter addresses this also.

Old and Young – Old School and New School

The APMP practitioner crowed has many older people and a whole new crop of young people.  It is good to see the younger people coming into the profession.  And, APMP does an excellent job of promoting mentoring relationships between people and companies.

The “old school” folks still see BD as a people game.  The “new school” sees winning as the results of a defined process that is optimized.  They are looking at software tools to drive efficiency and competitiveness.  BTW, just because some people are older age-wise doesn’t mean they are old school.  Some of the most enthusiastic people driving new school change are older people who have spent years wanting to drive towards a more automated, integrated system and fully know the pain of the old way.  The younger people are very quick to pick up on the next generation of tools like WinCenter, so there is an army to work with.

william

WinCenter Business Case: Embed your business acquisition process within an integrated capture and proposal management system

It’s been a very busy couple of months since the release of WinCenter in January.  With this next generation solution we are addressing a business-critical problem of Federal Government Contractors in their business acquisition process.  This article is written to support those that are re-evaluating their business situation and presenting our solution to their executive management.  At the end, I have a list of questions you can use to validate the strength of your current business case.

Very Good, Industry Standard, Business Acquisition Process (“BAP”)

Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked within a lot of industries dealing with many different business processes.  The Federal Government Contractor community has a very well defined, well understood, and, well supported end-to-end business acquisition process (“BAP”) – at a conceptual level.  Every leading FGC organization I’ve worked with has adopted a “flavor” of the core process and modified it to their needs.

The standard BAP looks like the diagram below. (Click on image to see full size)

lohfeld bap3

The core aspects of a BAP are:

  • a Phase-Gate based process
  • standard set of Federal customer milestones
  • use of a standard set of Decision Gate reviews
  • use of structured Color team reviews as milestones for process activities
  • a standard set of Capture, Proposal, and Supporting Departmental activities that drive the above process

The leading FGC’s know the standard BAP above very well.  Their experience has shown that IF and WHEN they can get their team and organization to understand their flavor of the process and follow it (varying the details to the opportunity) then they are more effective at winning business.

The Problem: Cost of Legacy and Lacking Tools

The business acquisition process is in good shape – conceptually.  The problem is that that the legacy tools available to most organizations are lacking to make this an efficient and effective process.  Below is a schematic of what we typically find in most organizations.  These tools are siloed, disconnected, often old and/or proprietary software, missing key elements, not process-driven, and thus, require a great deal of manual effort and activity to augment them in order to follow the business acquisition process.  The result is that getting people to do what is best to win business is too costly.  So, often what should be done, is not.

Legacytools

The most obvious deficiency is that the existing tools are usually not process-oriented.  They are document oriented, databases, or manual.  But, the industry has a well understood end-to-end process.  Where is it?  What tool is used to drive the success of the process?

In addition, most organizations have a vast separation between the Business Development/Capture people and their tools (usually an opportunity/CRM database) and the Proposal practitioners using document management systems. They live and work in different worlds.  The supporting departmental processes (HR, Finance, Legal, Engineering, Pricing, etc.) are also separate and disconnected.  But, the documented business acquisition process is an integrated end-to-end process where users can benefit greatly by visibility and collaboration with others throughout the process.  The means to make this occur is simply not reflected in the set of tools available to the organization.

WinCenter: Integrated Capture and Proposal Management

The solution?  Rather simply, WinCenter is a process-oriented system where we have embedded an industry standard BAP framework into an integrated capture and proposal management system.  In summary, it brings all of the participants together, to work in an integrated system, that is designed to work in accordance with the organizations’ standardized business acquisition process.

WinCenter was created from the ground up through the partnership of Lohfeld Consulting Group, a leading capture and proposal business consulting firm, and CorasWorks, with our flexible, Work Management System.  So, it reflects the process that is the standard of practitioners.

With WinCenter you get:

  • an integrated capture and proposal management system
  • supporting the industry standard business acquisition process
  • that provides the visibility and collaboration amongst all process participants
  • that automates the users work and provides consistency and efficiency
  • and that runs on the Microsoft SharePoint platform.

This solution addresses the need of the market.

And, it goes a step further.  Because it is designed and built using CorasWorks, it is uniquely flexible. This means that organizations are able to customize, enhance, and extend the solution on their own using our industry leading Work Management platform (in version 11) and our business user friendly Application Configuration Wizards.  This next generation capability drives a completely different result from the two legacy options of a) relying on proprietary, custom coded software vendors for changes or upgrades  and b) relying on costly and risky and untimely internal or external custom development.

Validating your Business Case

Here are some business and technical questions to answer to validate the current strength of your business case for WinCenter:

  • Do you, your team and execs believe that if your organization follows a standard business acquisition process you will win more business at lower cost?
  • Do you have a standard business acquisition process in your organization (on paper, whiteboard, documented)?  If not, do you want to?
  • Does your existing toolset look like the one above? Or even less?  What is the cost of supporting that toolset?
  • Do you see the benefit of embedding your BAP within your software system to drive your process?
  • Do you believe in the benefit of an integrated capture and proposal management system? Do your capture and proposal managers also believe in the benefits of this visibility and collaboration?
  • If you had the system to use to drive your team to follow the process how would it impact your Win rate?
  • How would it reduce your costs by increasing your efficiency and visibility?
  • How would it eliminate your risks of missing key elements of your business acquisition process?
  • Do you use Microsoft SharePoint as a platform within your organization?
  • Will you need to integrate with some legacy systems such as a corporate CRM or custom system?
  • Will you need to change your system, innovate, and do you want control over your pace and requirements for system changes?
  • How much will you reduce direct costs in legacy software maintenance and IT (internal or external) support people by investing in an off-the-shelf but flexible system?  How quickly?

Of course, we welcome the opportunity to work with you to answer the questions above.

william

Lohfeld WinCenter(TM) – integrated Capture and Proposal Management software for Federal Contractors

Bringing the best together.

Yesterday, we announced our partnership with Lohfeld Consulting Group and the new Lohfeld WinCenter(TM) software product.  WinCenter provides Federal Government Contractors (GovCon) with an integrated system to manage opportunities across the capture and proposal life-cycle.  It is integrated in a number of ways.  In this article, I’ll talk about the integration of process and technology and how it came together.  And, I’ll provide you with other resources.

As you all know, CorasWorks provides its own CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management solution as part of its Federal Government Contractor solution set.  Over the last year, we have supported customers that were using CorasWorks on SharePoint and that also had adopted a Lohfeld based capture and proposal methodology (or similar model such as Shipley).  We started embedding their process into our solution during implementations.  It was kind of a “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup moment”.  You take the process methodology, best practices, artifacts, guidance etc. and embed it in the software and automate the work.  The result is a system that works the way C&P professionals think about their work, that automates their work, that literally guides them through the process and the activities, and that provides exceptional visibility across the full life-cycle for all participants.

You’d think that this would already be a no brainer.  But, there is a big chasm between consultants/professionals that have the deep process knowledge and the software vendors providing the tools.  So, normally that great process is in people’s heads, on the wall, in 300 page manuals, and in some documents somewhere and users have to figure out how to use various tools to do different parts of the work. The potential productivity and effectiveness just gets lost.

So, working together, we’ve developed WinCenter.  It combines the standardized best practices of the industry for the Capture & Proposal process with the power of the CorasWorks work management platform on SharePoint.  It is an enhanced version of our Capture and Proposal Management solution.  Its seamless integration of all aspects of the process sets a new bar to drive productivity and win effectiveness.  It is available from Lohfeld and from CorasWorks.  And, it is designed to be very customizable to fit your particular modified C&P process and way of working.

I’ll leave the product details to the following resources and future articles and information.  Here are some resources to get you going:

william