by JP Richard, SJ&A
To develop and present a winning proposal, you must be organized. The best way to organize is to establish a pattern of operations and follow it. Eventually, the pattern becomes a habit – a series of rote actions universally understood in your organization as the way to proceed. Just think of how easy it would then become to prepare one winning proposal after another in this environment.
Organizing is best done on the basis of a set of principles. Let’s frame these principles as the Five C’s of Proposal Preparation. These are: Compliance, Capabilities, Con Ops, Competition and Compelling. In the next few issues of this newsletter, we will explore what each of these C’s mean to you and to the reviewers of your proposal.
Let’s start with Compliance. Compliance must be addressed in three ways. First, your proposal must comply with Section L of the RFP, Proposal Requirements, which sets forth the specific content and format desired by the Government. This section identifies everything from the size and kind of typeface, to the items they are expecting to see addressed. There are no exceptions for non-compliance—any deviation may result in the exclusion of your proposal for consideration.
Next, we must comply with every want and need expressed in that RFP satisfactorily and in the process, convince the readers that our approach is the best solution. It’s not enough to say that we will do “it”, but we must show how and why our approach is the best, and, it must be presented in the order and format requested in the RFP. Evaluators use a checklist to ensure compliance when reviewing proposals—therefore, your response must not only meet the needs, but respond to them where they expect to find them. Do not make them struggle to evaluate your proposal.
That’s why organizing the proposal response to exactly mirror the outline of the RFP is so important. This ensures that your response hits every requirement, and that the reviewers are aware that you have hit all of the requirements because they found them in the right order. The best way to ensure that you have met the first “C,” is to prepare a “Shred” of the RFP – including an Outline and a Compliance Matrix, identifying what is required for every section. Read every word of the RFP, including Appendices—often, there are requirements where you don’t expect to find them.
Compliance also means you give them what they want—even though you might think they need something altogether different. Respond to their requirements, not to your ideal concept of how it should be done. But that is the subject for another article; in our next issue we will talk about Capabilities.
If you would like to discuss ways in which we can support your proposal needs, contact JP by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 703-568-6417.