Definition of a Capability Statement

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Think of your capability statement as your business's resume. It's used most often when bidding on a government contract. You may also hear it called a statement of capability, a capability brief or a capacity statement when it's used for bids to nongovernment businesses.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

A capability statement should convey in a nutshell the services your company offers, its qualifications and its accomplishments.

Organizing Your Statement of Capability

Government agencies and departments want specific information in your capability statement, but they don't tell you exactly how to structure it. Therefore, you need to make it easy to find that information. Your capability statement can be divided into sections that explain:

  • General company information, including your registered company name and important numbers

  • Description of services you offer and core capabilities

  • Current and past customers, especially government agencies and departments for government bids

  • Partners and leadership staff

  • Qualifications/certifications/clearances

Start With General Company Information

Those in charge of selection will want to be sure you have the necessary numbers and codes to be considered for the contract, so start with this information up front. (Codes aren't needed for civilian jobs.)

  • Your business's registered company name and any other names you use, such as a "doing business as" name. You would know if your business has a DBA. Also include your slogan, motto or tag line if you have one.

  • If you're incorporated, list the type of corporation, such as S corporation, the state where you incorporated and the year.

  • The business's DUNS number — the data universal number assigned to you by the Data Universal Number System. This allows you to register your company as "active" in the System for Award Management database. Use the guides on the SAM website if you need help with this.

  • Your Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) number for security clearance.

  • Primary NAICS code, followed by all other NAICS codes you have. This stands for North American Industry Classification System, which is used in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to identify the industries in which you are qualified to work.

  • Your contractor's license number or other ID numbers for nongovernment jobs.

  • Your contact information, including the name and title of the individual they should contact with questions or requests for more information.

Describe Your Services/Core Capabilities

Briefly describe the services you offer, emphasizing those you'll use for this job. A company that can fulfill many of the skills required for the interior of a structure, for example, should list those capabilities, preferably bulleted to catch the reader's eye.

Example:

XYZ Corporation is skilled and experienced in completing the interior systems of a facility:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical wiring
  • HVAC
  • Drywall
  • Finished carpentry
  • Flooring

Name Current and Past Customers

Begin with customers who hired your business to do work similar to this contract. You could group them according to the skills you used, such as "interior systems" and "finished carpentry". In every category, list government-related customers first and nongovernment jobs if you feel the need to add more.

Example:

Complete Interior Systems:

  • HUD apartment complex

    Bright, Maine

    February 2019

    * Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    August 2018

    * Town of Springfield Water Works

    Springfield, Utah

    July 2018

Highlight Partners, Executives and Staff

Shine a light on the talented people with whom they'll get to work. Give each person's name and title, starting at the top — the CEO and president — and then add the staff who will manage the work. Identify any partners here too. The goal is to show that your employees are capable and hands on.

Example:

People make the difference. The people who will provide services to you aren't just names on a website. You'll see them hard at work on the job too.

  • David Smith, CEO: David started with the company as a systems design engineer, so he understands the scope and intricacies of the job. You'll see him on-site asking questions, checking progress and getting his hands dirty. Look for the neon-green hardhat.

  • Anne O'Connor, VP of Systems: Anne makes sure each system (plumbing, electrical, etc.) is integrated seamlessly with the others so we stay on track and on budget.

If you have partners with whom you'll work on this job, list them or just print their logos. The logos add visuals to the page and help break up the text. For example, you could write, "Proud to partner with Market Street Plumbing Supply and Hart's Flooring" and then show their logos.

List Certifications and Differentiating Points

Certifications can be those that would be expected in your industry and those that are unusual and can make your business stand out. Include federal, state, city and industry certifications. Add anything that might make you stand out from the crowd, such as "Huntington County contractor of the year for three years in a row."

It's also important to say if your business is designated as a minority or woman-owned business, which can be done in a statement or highlighted in a text box or balloon because certain statuses are given special consideration.

Edit, Design and Polish

Even one typo makes your company look sloppy, so have several people read your statement for errors and give suggestions. There are companies that will design your capability statement, or you can find online templates. It doesn't have to be slick, but it needs to be professional.

References

About the Author

Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She has written on business topics for afkinsider.com, smallbusiness.chron.com, Harbor Style Magazine, the Charlotte Sun and more. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards in B2B and B2C marketing.

Photo Credits

  • pen and paper image by Melissa Schalke from Fotolia.com