by JP Richard, SJ&A
In the last two issues, we discussed Compliance and Capabilities, the first two of the Five C’s of Proposal Preparation. To refresh your memory, the other three are ConOps, Competition and Compelling. Let’s now move on to ConOps.
The term ConOps is short for Concept of Operations—typically reflected in the Technical and Management Approach sections of a Government proposal. This is where you tell the evaluator how things will work on the project. Thus far, you have convinced reviewers that you can do the work because you have demonstrated it with your past performance examples and detailed capabilities. It’s not enough to tell them that you’ve done it before, you must show them, detailed in clear language, how you will do “it” for them this time. It must resonate with what they have in mind and in their current environment.
If you can’t explain what you will do effectively, and what the process and end results are, you either don’t understand the problem or your message has not been thought out. They need a team that communicates effectively and brings a clearly defined process, tools, and organization. They want to know what makes your organization/approach work well and most important, how their goals will be accomplished. This includes the goals that were articulated in the RFP and those that are not reflected there but are in the minds of the customer. Do your research! Show you understand them! Be able to describe what the customer wants in the customer’s words. Be sure to use the Government’s terminology in your response. Organizations and companies often use different terms for similar operations. Know theirs; use theirs. Speak their language.
Your ConOps must be presented logically – in steps, phases, or a process with well-defined actions and deliverables. Clearly articulate what the outcome will be and how both you and the customer will measure success. Do not provide a “boilerplate” response. Tailor every word to their organization. If it means that you need to change your organization or your approach to win, make that decision early.
A critical component of demonstrating that you have addressed their needs and their operations is by showing that you have mitigated their operational risks. Consider including a Risk Mitigation Plan. This can be done with a simple table or matrix—one side detailing the technical or management risk or major operational issues that could surface during the course of the contract, the other side detailing your approach that mitigates it. Prove that you have their bases covered. This is not only an excellent opportunity to show your understanding of the client, but to neutralize your competitors through “ghosting.” Identify risks that your competitors might bring (without naming the competitor) and show how your approach is better. We will discuss Competition further, the fourth C, in the next newsletter. A solid ConOps can clearly set you apart from the pack.
If you would like to discuss ways in which we can support your proposal development needs, contact JP by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 703-568-6417.