WE NEED PROPOSAL CONSULTANTS!

(June 13, 2015) The Federal Proposal Experts is bursting at the seams with new small business customers that need federal proposal and business development support. If you are an experienced federal proposal consultant and you're looking for new assignments and like working with small businesses, please send us your resume!

Send your resume to Contact@fedproposalexperts.com

IMPORTANT MUST-DO FOR 8A COMPANIES BIDDING THE STARS II ON-RAMP

(May 19, 2015) If you are an 8a company planning on bidding the STARS II on-ramp, remember to get registered right away for the ACES digital certificate, which can take a while. You can't submit your STARS II proposal unless you have access to the portal.  To get access to the portal, you need the ACES digital certificate.  Look on FedBizOps for instructions. 

If you need support for your STARS II bid effort, The Federal Proposal Experts has a sliding scale for small businesses based on your size.  Give us a call to talk about it: (703) 599-0768.

FBO Link to STARS II Announcement:  https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=722f471ae719fa3a3b258e7bacb48985&tab=core&tabmode=list&=

Business Development Tip: Get on these Vehicles!

 If you are an IT services or products provider, we recommend that you get on a team for the following very important vehicles. If you don't quite know how to do that, shoot us an email at contact@fedproposalexperts.com with your questions and we'll be glad to clarify. Our picks are:

  • Army Desktop and Mobile Computing (ADMC 3)
  •  Alliant 2 Unrestricted (A2) and Alliant 2 Small Business (A2SB)
  • Health and Human Services (HHS) Enterprise System Development (ESD II)
  • Defense Information Systems Agency's (DISA) Encore III
  • CIO-SP3 SB (On-ramp in 2016)
  • Professional and Technical Support Services (PTSS) Department of Commerce

Being the Boss of an 800 lb Gorilla

(April 22, 2015)  As a small business, you will have many opportunities to bid as the Prime contractor with a large business as your subcontractor. Often, you will be bidding on their incumbent contract that has been moved to a small business set aside. If you are a HUBZone or an 8a business, you should be doing this a lot! The challenge is to be a confident Prime while still building good relationships with the 800 lb gorilla. It will be trial and error, but remember these few things as you navigate the relationship and the proposal:

1.   YOU are the prime so it is YOUR proposal.
2.   Always have the last edit of the proposal - its your neck.
3.   Provide the subcontractor w/ ceiling rates for pricing inputs.
4   Try to bid about 25% below what the incumbent contract - even if the incumbent is on your team.
5.   Take the lead at the beginning of the process, and stay in the lead while still allowing the large company to kick-in a majority of the resources and offer expertise where you       don't have it.

Are You Being Stingy with Your Bid and Proposal Dollars?

Are you being stingy with your Bid and Proposal spend?
Are you reluctant to bid because it costs too much to hire proposal people or to use outside consultants?
Let’s do some math.
Let’s say your small business responds to 10 Requests for Proposal (RFPs) per year at contract value of $3M each. That’s a potential total revenue increase of $30M over the life of the contracts. Of course, you’re not going to win all 10, but a conservative win rate of 20% would be realistic. Even at that rate, you’re looking at a revenue increase of $6M (2 new contracts). Not bad!
Now, what does it cost to win that $6M in new revenue?
Bidding costs labor hours and material resources. At an average (unburdened) employee hourly rate of $50 (roughly $100,000 per year salary), here is what a typical bid effort takes with a three-week turn-around:
• Proposal Manager – 100 hours ($5,000)
• Subject Matter Experts/Writers – 24 hours each x 2 people ($2,400)
• Reviewers – 8 hours each x 4 people ($1,600)
• Editor/Technical Writer – 32 hours x 1 person ($1,600)
• Pricing Team – 40 hours x 2 people ($4,000)
So a typical proposal effort might take about $15,000, not counting supplies or fringe.
10 proposals x $15,000 = $150,000 in bid and proposal spend.
If you win $6M in new contracts (2 bids), your bid and proposal costs are only 2.5% of what you won. That is a pretty good rate of return!
So, if you want to grow your Federal business, the bottom line is: don’t skimp on putting together a full proposal team and BID, BID, BID. Even if you bring in proposal consultants at twice the hourly rate of our calculations used here, you’re still only spending a fraction of what you win in new business.

Does Your Small Business Have a Strategic Plan?

Developing a meaningful Strategic Plan is a dark art. Most corporate Strategic Plans are filed somewhere and ignored after leaders spend considerable sweat and tears developing them.  Yet, a company that does not have a living, ever evolving Strategic Plan runs the risk of using a revenue goal as they only guiding force for deciding what to bid, how often to bid and who to hire.  A revenue goal is not effective for inspiring employees to be innovative and passionate about their work.  Nor is it discerning enough for making good bid decisions. Bidding everything is expensive and lowers your win probability.  Bidding with precision using a repeatable bid scoring method that aligns with your Strategic Plan will produce better results with your limited small business resources. 

Create your Strategic Plan from the passionate place that caused you to start your small business in the first place.  Identify what you're good at as a company and then go about five years out into the future and create how your company will look, who will work for you and what size you will be at that point.  Then work backwards to determine what kind of customers and work you will pursue to reach that five-year state.   Then, you can more clearly make bid/no bid decisions because you are targeting a defined future.  That's a Strategic Plan you can use.  Most importantly, share that future with your employees so they feel like they are part of something exciting.

Give Proposal Resumes the Time They Deserve

(March 4, 2015)  The Key (and non-Key) people you bid in your proposal can win or lose it for you.  You might have the greatest candidates in the market space, but if you don't take time to make that clear in the resumes you submit, you waste all that greatness. Every resume you submit should be formatted and written to highlight that your candidate meets (or exceeds) the experience and qualifications requirements listed in the RFP.  This is so important that large proposal teams will often assign a technical writer full-time to work solely on resumes. Format the resume to map to the order of the list of requirements in the RFP (i.e. education, experience with the Agency, work history, number of years working with the other people you're bidding, etc.).  Then, embed a cross-reference element (a little table with two columns can be effective) right at the top that shows how your candidate meets each requirement and put a little check mark next to each requirement met.  You can even get fancy and put a check mark and a plus sign for those requirements that your candidate exceeds.  This way, the evaluators can see in one glance that your candidate is highly qualified.  

The Federal Proposal Experts has an easy to use Resume Template in MS Word available on our Proposal Templates page that will help you achieve this. 

Panicked Writing When the RFP Hits (or How to Put Your Proposal at Risk)

(Dec. 15, 2014)  We have seen, more times than we can count, businesses rush to start writing proposal sections as soon as the RFP hits the street.  Writing full proposal narrative before your proposal team knows the solution baselines is like setting out to sea in a huge ship without a navigation plan. You don’t know where you’re going but you have to arrive by the deadline given and you are too cumbersome to turn on a dime for quick redirects if you head in the wrong direction.

Your proposal team of writers and reviewers will need to know the full solution before a single word is put on paper.

Before you even have the Proposal Kick-Off Meeting, you should have identified, at a minimum, all aspects of the following solution baselines:

  • Management Approach Baseline
    • Project management framework (e.g., PMI, ITSM, ISO 20000 SMS, etc.)
    • Organizational structure and span of authority and communication
    • Staffing mix and roles and responsibilities
    • Recruiting and retention plan
    • Quality assurance approach
    • Risk management approach
    • Transition approach
  • Technical Approach Baseline
    • Technical approach framework (e.g., ITIL, ITSM, CMM-I, etc.)
    • Technical approach process (how you will perform the work)
    • Technical teams structure and collaboration points
  • Cost Basis of Estimate
    • Reason for the staffing mix (make sure it aligns with staffing approach)
    • Process used to arrive at the total evaluated price
    • Justification for escalation percentage

Just like a project, a proposal needs a plan then you manage to the plan.  Proposals that have no plan (map) read like they have no map and important evaluation criteria can be missed.

Written by Shaanon Lindauer — December 15, 2014

Are you building relationships with the right Federal points of contact?

(October 29, 2014) Many small businesses rely heavily on their relationships with their direct Federal customers when looking for new opportunities.  While these relationships are very valuable, you don't want to look for opportunities through a pin hole.  There are other valuable contacts in the Federal Government that can help you find opportunities and help you grow your business.  

The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) Council and its members are Government representatives that actually advocate for awarding more work to small businesses!  Nearly every Federal agency has membership on this Council.  

Doesn't it make sense to build relationships with the people whose mission is to help small businesses like yours grow?  Check out the list of members and start reaching out to arrange meetings with these people.  

The list of OSDBU members is at http://www.osdbu.gov/members.html

 

Attend our "Managing A Federal Pipeline Workshop" October 27th in Leesburg

This workshop is being led by Shaanon Lindauer and is offered through the Northern Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) for just $75 per person.  

The workshop will cover:

  • How to create an opportunity Bid/No Bid Scoring Worksheet based on your company’s strategic goals
  • A consistent approach for calculating a Win Probability percentage for each opportunity
  • How to track your company’s rolling pipeline value
  • How to forecast projected revenue
  • How to create a simple dashboard for at-a-glance analysis of pipeline health

This method is meant to be done with an Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint and does not require an expensive pipeline management tool.  It is a solid approach for getting your hands on the levers and dials of your bid machine so that your proposal dollars are used wisely.

Register for the workshop here: http://novaptac.org/eventcalendar/detail.asp?eid=584&sid=1236