If you’re serious about winning more government contracts, you must start your bid preparation before the final Request for Proposal (RFP) is released to consistently win competitive contracts. For large Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contracts, the government often releases a draft RFP months in advance of the final RFP, seeking and incorporating industry feedback on the proposal requirements along the way. From the government’s point of view, that gives bidders plenty of time to prepare their proposals, so they often set an aggressive deadline once the final RFP is released.

It is virtually impossible to develop a solution and write a winning proposal in the 30 days or less you get for most proposals. Even if the work falls within your core expertise or you are an incumbent, you risk making mistakes or losing to more aggressive bidders when you don’t prepare in advance.

What can you do ahead of time to set yourself up for a smooth proposal process and the best finished product possible?

Perfect Your Solution

Sometimes you don’t realize your content is weak until you start writing it for evaluator eyes. Use flowcharts, notes, graphics, and bullet points to describe every aspect of your solution, proposal section by proposal section. Then, start writing about the solution. Although the technical elements of a work statement might change before a final RFP is issued, putting your solution on the page will show you right away where the holes are and give you more time to fill them. Ideally, this preparation will enable you to go straight to drafting your proposal (with some brainstorming to refine the approach) once the RFP is issued. You will be able to develop more drafts of the same sections, so that they evolve into more mature and polished writing. Remember, it’s often the editing and polishing that gets cut at the end of the proposal process because time ran out.

Templates and Organization

Set up your templates and design an attractive cover that reflects your customer’s color scheme (usually “borrowed” from their logo colors) and the proposal theme. You will also want to prepare your executive summary draft, cost proposal draft, and any plans you expect to include with the final proposal, such as quality assurance plans or subcontracting plans.

Before the rush to the finish, it’s also prudent to set up whatever collaborative space you plan to work in and make sure your teammates can all access it. Collect information you know you will need and organize it in a place where it can be easily found and shared.

Key Personnel and Teammates

If you already know who your key personnel will be, obtain their resumes and format them in a consistent template that follows your customer’s exact requirements. Select which references you and your teammates will use for past performance and put all of them in a consistent format as well.

Issue data calls requesting information from your subcontractors in advance, giving everyone ample time to prepare thoughtful responses and provide the necessary information you already know will go into your proposal. You can also take care of mechanics such as getting all your teammates’ logos in the right format.

Game Plan

Finally, develop a proposal plan. Define who will participate on the proposal (including assigning reviewers) and what their roles will be. Create a provisional proposal schedule and figure out when daily status meetings will be held. With all the materials ready, you will be able to position yourself for a winning bid.

OST Global Solutions is a professional business development consulting firm. We provide capture and proposal teams to develop a winning proposal. Or we can provide consultants on a case-by-case basis to fill gaps on your business development team. Our services consist of capture management, proposal management, orals coaching, proposal writing, graphics support, editing, desktop publishing, and cost volume development.

Reach out to us to discuss how we can help you develop a winning proposal.

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