Proposal Writing

First Steps when Reviewing a Government RFP

The RFP you have been waiting for finally hits the streets and you realize you only have thi30875rty days to respond.  What should you do first?

Well hindsight is easy but I wouldn’t be doing you a favor not to mention some things you should have done BEFORE the RFP hit the streets:

  1. Do a non-biased bid / no-bid on the effort.   The majority of RFPS we review we do not pursue.  You only have so much Bid & Proposal time – use it wisely.
  2. Decide if you need teammates and get teaming agreements signed if you do.
  3. Create a cross matrix of the skills needed and the team members.  Determine if there is a hole in the expertise of your team and fill it if necessary.
  4. Designate your proposal team.  Decide who will be overall proposal lead, technical lead, management lead and costing lead.
  5. Pre-write parts of the proposal that you can.  Many times a draft RFP is released and you can write a good portion of the proposal before it comes out.

An RFP is sometimes hundreds of pages long and you need to get working quickly on it.  You eventually need to read the entire thing from top to bottom but I generally start reading in this order:

  1. Section L — Section L tells you what they want in the proposal.   What Volumes and how many pages for each volume and what should be included in each volume.
  2. Section M — This section lets you know how you will be evaluated.   For example, that cost is twice as important as technical.  Or that the Key Personnel resumes will be heavily weighted.  I use this information to help me assign how many pages will be in each section.  For example, if the management section is worth half as much as the technical approach and we are allowed a total of 75 pages, I will give 25 pages to management and 50 to technical approach.
  3. Section C —  This section lets you know what you will do during the execution of the contract should you win.  This information needs to be addressed one by one in the technical approach.  For example, if they have five services that you need to complete during the contract, make sure your technical approach lets the evaluators know how you will complete each service.  Its a good idea to number your technical section the same way as Section C so the evaluators can easily follow and give you credit for your approach.
  4. SF33 — this gives you information like who to send the proposal to, when its due and if clearances are required.

At this point, you should do a bid / no-bid decision once more to make sure you think you can win the effort.

If it’s a green light for your team, then these general steps should be completed.  I’ll write a bit more in detail in future blogs but this is a quick start on the process.

  1. Create a compliance matrix — a spreadsheet with each item that should be included in the proposal, who is assigned to do it and the status.
  2. Create a proposal template with headers and the pertinent info from the proposal inserted.
  3. Create a calendar with dates for pink team, red team, gold team and any other important milestones.
  4. Assign writers according to your compliance matrix and send them their section of the proposal template.    Make it easy for them to answer the question.  They are the technical experts.  They are not typically good writers.  Ask them questions they can answer in simple bullets that you or your team can craft into a cohesive story.

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