Thursday, February 29, 2024

Responding to an RFP .... Steps1 and 2

Are you a proposal leader tasked with responding to a competitive RFP?
  • An RFP from a private sector customer or from the public sector?
  • And if from the public sector, local, state, or federal?
  • And if from the federals, defense or non-defense?
Every one of those customer groups will have their own style, culture, and constraining rules, regulations, and statutes. But even so, there are two steps, everyone must follow:

Step 1, Read the RFP
Step 1 is to read the entire RFP, but most particularly read the "instructions to offerors", or words to that effect. This seems like such an obvious first step that it does not bear mentioning, but actually it does because the devil is in the detail. 

Follow instructions
If you can't follow instructions as simple as how to submit the proposal, or worse: you are too lazy or arrogant to read and follow the instructions, then you've made an unforced error which could cast a pawl over you whole proposal. 

Take note of Customer dictates
Many submission requirements require "click to sign" certifications (which brings workflow and signature authority into the frame), and they require online submissions of content segmented by "attach here" this or that. Consequently, you may need a tool or submission facility that is not your norm. Action required to get the tools the customer uses!

Avoid disqualification.
Or, worst case, if you don't follow instructions, including "don't be late", you could be disqualified for an unresponsive submission. 

Step 2, Have an Answer for everything
Step 2 is build a tracking matrix (or table, or several tables by category) for every little thing that is in the RFP. Use the tracking matrix (or table) to organize and direct where in your proposal the customer is going to find answers. 

Don't disdain a customer's laundry list which looks like the customer just threw mud at the wall. Everything goes in a tracking matrix. Some of that mud has may have an influential sponsor; you won't really know who's looking for an answer, so answer everything. 

There are two objectives to be satisfied with these tracking tables:
  1. Assure completeness, which is part and parcel to your first demonstration to the customer of your appreciation of quality assurance.
    The customer will notice omissions more readily than inclusions.
    That is simple utility theory which posits asymmetry of value: the missing is more grievous than the satisfaction of inclusions.

  2. Make it easy for the customer to find the answers. A frustrated customer, looking here and there but not finding, or not finding easily, will take it out on your score.
    Making it easy are the easiest evaluation points you can earn. Don't give them away. 

    Remember this: If the customer can't find what they want in your proposal, it's not their fault!  (Corollary: If it's not their fault, then it must be yours!) You can't admonish them for not being able to read and easily digest your responses.

Like this blog? You'll like my books also! Buy them at any online book retailer!