Government Contract Proposals, Part 2: Reviewing the Solicitation and Reaching a “Go/No Go” Decision
APTAC staff article
If you are new to government contracting, lengthy, complex Requests for Proposals (RFPs) with tight deadlines, can be overwhelming. A competitive proposal must demonstrate a thorough understanding the RFP and present a clear, compelling narrative as to how your company can provide the best possible solution to the customer’s (agency’s) needs, rising above mere compliance to provide better value than any competing proposals.
This article discusses how to evaluate a specific RFP to determine if the opportunity is a good fit for your company and worth the investment of time and energy to develop a proposal. By this point, you should already have done your homework with regard to assessing your company’s capabilities, your customers’ needs and your competition. See our previous article, Government Contract Proposals, Part 1: Be Prepared – Pre-Proposal Tasks
Part 2: Reviewing the Solicitation and Reaching a “Go/No Go” Decision
Review of RFP and Contract Documents:
All documents – including clauses and provisions “incorporated by reference” (IBR) – need to be read carefully and thoroughly. To make a large RFP more approachable, consider starting with sections “C – Description/Scope of Work”, “L – Instructions to Offerors”, and “M – Evaluation Factors”. If, based upon these provisions, the requirements match up well with your capabilities and the proposal delivery deadline is realistic, the full RFP should be dissected and analyzed before a go/no-go decision is made.
This is an area in which a PTAC counselor can be an enormous help, as he or she can explain the more complex clauses and IBR provisions and flag those that will affect performance or costs, as well as any that might present barriers, such as restricted drawings (which require Industrial Security Clearance to view). You should be watchful for unusual, restrictive, or onerous requirements which might be clues that the solicitation is “wired”(ie: created with a specific vendor in mind).
Identify items that require clarification and be mindful of bid period communication etiquette to maximize the likelihood of obtaining the needed information.
Attend a pre-proposal conference if one is offered. Doing so will allow you:
- To gain better understanding of the government’s requirements and clear up any uncertainties or gaps in the SOW or other contractual requirements.
- To determine if you should propose and how best to satisfy the requirement given the government’s “primary desirables” and your company’s strength relative to other competitors.
- The opportunity to identify and resolve concerns regarding the acquisition approach, including the proposed contract type, the feasibility of the requirement, and other industry concerns and questions relevant to the acquisition as proposed.
Articulating a WIN Strategy
Make sure you can answer the question, “Why us” – why does your company offer the BEST value solution to the requirement, above and beyond not only basic compliance but that which will be offered by competitors. The strongest proposals will demonstrate an understanding of the agency’s priorities and concerns and clearly articulate how each will be addressed, emphasizing the company’s strengths and neutralizing any weaknesses.
Once the RFP is fully understood and evaluated in light of your company’s capabilities, a decision can be made regarding whether to propose. Some questions to consider include:
- Does winning the contract fit into your strategic marketing plan? Will winning and performing the job enhance past performance with the issuing agency or other agencies?
- Is there enough time to bid or propose on the solicitation? Are there adequate resources to propose in a timely manner (estimating and pricing, tech writers, proposal review, connectivity to agency’s solicitation portal)? Is your management team behind winning the job?
- Can the company be competitive based upon the specification/statement of work?
- Is there adequate financing to meet payroll and suppliers’ demands in the light of the payment schedule?
- Should you propose as a prime contractor or would you have a better chance of winning as a subcontractor or part of a Joint Venture?.
Your PTAC Counselor can elaborate on this topic and provide you with additional advice at no cost. Click here to Find your PTAC today!
Watch this space for the final article of the series: Preparing the Proposal.
More about Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)
Ninety-eight PTACs – with over 300 local offices – form a nationwide network of procurement professionals dedicated procurement professionals working to help local businesses compete successfully in the government marketplace. Funded under the Defense Logistics Agency’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program through cooperative agreements with state and local governments and non-profit organizations, PTACs are the bridge between buyer and supplier, bringing to bear their knowledge of both government contracting and the capabilities of contractors to maximize fast, reliable service to our government with better quality and at lower costs.
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- Identify your target agency(ies)
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- Market your business to agencies
- Researching procurement histories
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