When government entities use RFP outsourcing to solicit responses from vendors, they often look for indicators that give them caution. Successful proposers will avoid these pitfalls.
The first caution is an offeror whose price is extremely low. When prices fall too far outside of the range provided by competing firms, proposal evaluators send up red flags perceiving that it’s highly likely the vendor does not fully understand the project scope. When services or IT outsourcing are being proposed, expectations are not necessarily fulfilled by low-cost offers, but rather by a high certainty that the results will meet expectations.
The second caveat occurs when proposers offer terms that claim to provide the government agency with some kind of profit-sharing schemes like gainsharing or penalty earn back provisions. The truth is that when budgets have been approved, the cost is no longer the main issue. When agencies use RFP outsourcing, their core issue is achieving a successful outcome. Choosing the vendor that is most likely to meet the contract objective on time and within budget, mitigates the risk of choosing your firm and increases the likelihood that you will be chosen over your competition.
Proposal Sections for Gov’t Solicitations
The proposal writer starts with certain assumptions that include a basic organization of proposal content that is then customized to meet the Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements and evaluation criteria. A government proposal may have all or some of these sections based on the type of contract and intent of the Government’s RFP. Government RFP consultants use basic proposal sections that include:
Understanding the Problem: Often, the RFP requires the prospective government contractor to present an understanding of the agency’s issue. This is not the place to regurgitate the description straight out of the solicitation, but instead to relate the underlying pain or problem for which the contract is intended to solve and provide highlights of the benefits they will receive from your proposed solution as elaborated on in the proposal.
Cover Letter/Letter of Interest/Letter of Transmittal: When no requirement is stipulated, a cover letter is used to introduce the benefits your company will provide the Government if the agency awards you the contract. Your proposal writer should explicitly state why they should choose your company. A Letter of Interest is more appropriate for a Request for Quote or Request for Qualifications while a Letter of Transmittal will include all of the elements stipulated in the RFP.
Executive Summary: When not under extreme page limits, an Executive Summary provides the opportunity to summarize your offer, emphasize all of the benefits to the agency for your solution, and substantiate your claims with proofs of your qualifications and experience to complete the contract, mitigate the risk of selecting you, and setting the tone for the rest of the proposal.
Technical Approach: Your proposal consultant will work with you to outline and define your technical solution based on the RFPs Scope of Work (SOW). While the SOW defines the product or service requirements of the contract, your response will describe how you will fulfill those requirements. Keep in mind that for most federal contracts, your technical proposal often becomes a part of the resulting contract and only modified by mutual agreement, so make sure you can deliver on your promises. When preparing your technical approach, use our proposal writing tips to help write a compelling response.
Corporate Experience: You may be required to submit Past Performance Questionnaires to several former clients or provide examples of previous contracts similar in size and scope that are relevant to the SOW described in the RFP. When available, describe projects you have undertaken where you met similar challenges and how you overcome those challenges.
Management Plan: Several components can be required in a management plan including a staffing plan, qualifications of key personnel, resumes of key personnel, and an organizational chart showing lines of authority and identifying all personnel resources identified to support the resulting contract.
Price Proposal: Understanding your industry is critical to providing a price that is not too high or too low. Pricing is too complicated to go into in this discussion, but most Government RFPs provide the details required. Once you specify the cost, you will be required to uphold that price throughout the term of the contract, so be sure that with multi-year contracts you can live with the pricing presented.
RFP proposal writing services and RFP solutions will include all or some of these proposal components depending on your specific solicitation.
Format of Business Proposal
A response to a government RFP requires a combination of adhering to the solicitation instructions for the format of the business proposal and a persuasive argument that your business can both perform the required services, and complete the contract on time and on budget. When providing proposal writing services, the first of these, i.e., the format of your business proposal, requires RFP solutions that follow an outline or, at a minimum, include the specific information identified within the RFP. Often, you will find conflicting statements that specify additional information that should be included. The format of a business proposal can become confusing as different sections of the RFP emphasize different content. These sections often include the proposal instructions, evaluation criteria, statement of work, and even the terms and conditions. The key to an effective format is to never use a template for RFP responses, but instead, include every item in a manner that is logical and persuasive, thereby providing a compelling business proposal that is clear, concise, and, at the same time, mitigates the risk to the agency of choosing you over the competition.