If you know, you know that the first rule of Fight Club is …

We all know that some cleared projects are handled with special care. Meaning, some move faster than mercury beads on slanted glass, and use less paper than a web3 blockchain. But other projects are more “on the record” and require both procedural compliance and patience to deal at times with the procurement process majestic glacial speed.

But regardless of the speed, most cleared projects begin with a formal solicitation. After that, there are ways to be set up for more success. For instance, if your corporation bids on cleared projects, you need to find capture and proposal managers who are cleared and proficient at answering solicitations. Also, if you are a “cleared SME” and you want to help in capture and proposal support, as a W-2 or 1099, your “ticket” is as important to the team as your “proposal management” proficiency.

Most teams run into issues answering a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a cleared project when they don’t identify: the technical solution, the SMEs to engineer the solution or to provide the services (although that is a real challenge), the place to assemble the response, or how to communicate it to the soliciting agency.

3 Tips for Establishing a Proposal Team

But it all comes down to getting the right team in place. It’s challenging to assemble a team both technically and administratively proficient to prevent either paperwork or process from killing an otherwise viable business opportunity. Having a well-trained and proficient cleared SME cadre is essential to your capture plan’s success. To be clear, this special group is not limited to writers and proposal managers. It also includes your technical, production, legal, contracts, finance, and program management SMEs. This fact alone requires a tight relationship and integration of your FSO into your capture and proposal process. So what should you pay attention to when building the team?

1. You need the right people on your team.

Identify your cleared W-2 proposal resources and make sure that they are formally trained in the capture and proposal discipline that best aligns with your company’s security needs, culture and operational pace. It’s not only about being cleared, but also about being efficient, effective and secure in the way your team responds.

In some instances, finding the right and cleared talent onboard as W-2s may be a challenge. In this scenario, having an “elastic” capture and proposal team of 1099s ready to assist your Fight Club efforts may prove invaluable. This, of course, requires planning ahead, such that the clearances can be properly hosted, and could benefit from some consistency and longevity, so that the 1099s clearly understand the internal processes of your corporation.

2. Have a Bigger Proposal Vision

Establish a long-term relationship with a “capture and proposal house” that has SMEs with tickets worth holding. This is tricky because sometimes you may need to hold their clearance on another project in order to keep it current. That is a detail that, if thought through as part of a greater plan, can be handled with little to no complication. Don’t just think about today’s proposal, but also about the others you’ll soon pursue.

3. Involve your FSO from the beginning.

Make your FSO part of your capture and proposal process; not an afterthought or a “hurdle” you need to overcome. The best capture plans and programs to execute are usually those where the FSO and/or delegate from the team was an active member of the capture team every step of the way; not just at Red Team.

There are things you can’t and should not talk about. That said, there are things that you should talk about early and frequently. In the latter category falls establishing a strong capture and proposal capability, organic or acquired, within your company. That way your skunk works will not trip on an administrative technicality, and you will best support those who live on the SCIF next door (which you don’t know about, of course) and those out in the field; perhaps members of another nameless club.


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Trident Proposal Management is a SDVOSB full-service business development, capture, and proposal solution company for U.S. government contractors. Our focus is to help government contractors identify, position for, and win government contracts with a professional staff that provides quality service. Trident Proposal Management’s SMEs provide readers with helpful content on understanding clearance-level projects and how to bid on government contracts. Learn more by visiting our website.