Why Transition Plans Matter

If your team has developed and submitted proposals for more than three service contracts then chances are likely you had to develop a transition plan as part of one or more of these efforts. In the course of our support to companies pursing Government contracts, particularly in the Army, we frequently see transition plans are often treated as if they are not as important as other proposal elements, or they are not well thought out. More simply put, it often appears the proposed transition plan is an afterthought or just a templated ‘check the block.’ As a former DoD Acquisition Professional I can say without equivocation that a poorly written transition plan can/will be the Achilles heel of an otherwise excellent proposal effort, resulting in a loss.

Transition plans are critically important to the organizations for which the contract will provide support. Whenever they are required by a solicitation, the capture and proposal team should know up front a poor transition plan can (and most often does) kill the potential for a win regardless of the price or merit of the rest of the proposal. The reason for this is evaluators for service contracts will undoubtedly come from the customer organization and they will be extremely attuned to the risk transition presents to their operation.

More specifically, as required by DoD source selection procedures the evaluators will assess risk in four areas: the potential for increased cost, delays in schedule, degradation in performance, and increased Government oversight. A poorly written, or generic templated transition plan will, at best, be assessed as a weakness and could even result in an assessment where the risk level is unacceptable and preclude award. The bottom line is evaluators must be able to read, understand and feel the transition plan is complete, cohesive and will help their organization meet its mission demands during the transition.

So what makes a good transition plan? First and foremost, evaluators are looking for a defined process and approach to managing the transition. The approach must be methodical and systematic while at the same time acknowledging that surprises happen and the process allows your team to respond quickly. Once the framework for transition management is described then it’s time to give some detail regarding how it will be accomplished for this specific customer.

Some recommended elements that need to be addressed to help evaluators visualize how the transition will happen and reassure them that the transition will occur in fairly streamlined and seamless manner include:

  • Leadership, Organization – describe the roles and responsibilities of key personnel; will you have a dedicated Transition Manager
  • Knowledge Capture and Transfer – talk about the process for capturing what is being done and how to maintain continuity in specific projects and processes
  • Risk Management – a brief description of your process and include an initial risk register with risk response actions
  • Logistics – describe your plan for handling the logistics of things like facility access, accountability, clearances, email, badging, etc.
  • Staffing strategy – identifying and hiring quality people quickly; must show a proactive approach prior to contract award and address integration of new personnel and incumbent capture if that is part of your plan
  • Schedule – include one with defined milestones for accomplishing your key tasks
  • Quality Management – discuss how will you ensure quality of delivery is maintained during the transition
  • Communications – describe how will you communicate internally, with the incumbent and with the Government customer; identify all stakeholders specifically for the contract in your response

Lastly, if space allows, we highly recommend including a few sentences about where you have managed a similar transition successfully in the past with details about the size and timeline of the transition. The transition plan does not have be complicated, but it does need to be detailed and give the evaluators the sense there is an overarching management process and you as a potential awardee know what it takes to get on board and get started with a minimum of disruption.

Let us know how we can help you succeed in this or any other business effort!

-Michael Devine