Attend Our Proposal Writing Workshop in Leesburg, VA October 13, 2014

(October 8, 2014) Attend a 4-hour hands-on workshop that will teach you how to write any Federal proposal section using an 8-step approach.  The George Mason PTAC in Leesburg is hosting the workshop on Monday, October 13th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  The amazing part is the cost is only $75 per person!  The workshop will be led by our own Shaanon Lindauer.  

Register here:  https://www.novaptac.org/eventcalendar/detail.asp?eid=583&sid=1238

 

The 10 Qualities of a Winning Proposal

(October 1, 2014)

1.  Effective pre-RFP capture of customer hot buttons, goals and requirements

2.  Bid strategy based on customer requirements and knowledge

3.  Adequate proposal team resources

4.  Executive support of proposal

5.  Proposed solution is all about meeting/exceeding customer requirements

6.  Proposal discriminates your company’s solution from the competition (use metrics!)

7.  Proposal content is compliant and well-written

8.  Proposal document is error-free and professional-looking

9.  Proposal is easy to evaluate against Section M Evaluation Criteria

10. Proposed cost is reasonable and competitive

Is Responding to RFIs a Waste of Resources or a Valuable Capture Activity?

(August 26, 2014) We have heard from more than a few Federal Contracting Officers that small businesses should always respond to Requests for Information (RFIs) and Market Surveys that are in their area of core competency. Federal procurement professionals have consistently stated that Contracting offices are working with their agencies to allocate as much of the tight budgets toward small business as is possible and practicable. Contracting offices are working with (and sometimes against) program folks that are pushing for full and open.  This might be large business bias or maybe they just don't know that there are small businesses that have the capability and resources to deliver the required support.  We, as small businesses, have to respond to these RFIs and Market Surveys in respectable numbers if we are to help the Contracting Officers justify set asides.  The follow-up is just as important, though. Make sure you are not throwing away valuable bid resources hours on activities that have no money attached. Any pre-solicitation opportunities that you respond to should end up in your pipeline and be aggressively tracked.  There is no value in responding to an RFI and then not tracking the opportunity all the way through the procurement lifecycle.  Once you submit an RFI response, maintain regular contact with the Contracting Specialist or Officer to stay in the forefront of their minds as a small business interested and capable of performing the work.

Get to the Point Before They Stop Caring

(July 28, 2014)  Receiving a high evaluation score with lots of strengths is the goal of your proposal. So, go for the points and strengths in the first paragraph of your proposal. Tell the evaluators immediately what your solution includes and how it will ensure the customer achieves the goals for the contract.  Then, for each major section (management approach, technical subsections, etc.) tell the evaluators the strengths in that part of your solution in the first paragraph or even highlight them at the top of section. Be sure to tie your strengths to the evaluation criteria.   For example, if the evaluation criteria is "Ability to Retain Qualified Staff," then you should tell them in the first paragraph something like, "Company ABC has a three-year retention average of 92%, which is 20% higher than the national average of 72% for technical services professionals." The bottom line:  Don't make the evaluators dig for your strengths. Serve it up on a platter right away!

How Proposals Are Evaluated

(July 21, 2014) After many years of grilling former Federal Government employees who have served on Source Selection Committees (Evaluators), we have learned the following valuable information about how proposals are evaluated:

  • The most professional-looking proposal documents are put in one pile and the sloppy, poorly constructed proposals are put in another.
  • The Evaluators start with the professional-looking pile and determine if all the elements of the Evaluation Criteria (Section M) and Proposal Instructions (Section L) are in the proposal (a quick glance through the Table of Contents will tell you that!).
  • The Technical Approach is then evaluated looking for a consistent approach and overall low risk for the Government.
  • The Past Performances are evaluated last.
  • Price is evaluated by a different team. If it is a lowest-price technically acceptable procurement, Price is evaluated first and is the most important criteria. If it is best value, then Price is often evaluated last but is still a major determining factor.
So the bottom line is compliance and a professional looking document will get you in the right pile!

Find the Incumbent’s Contract Value!

(July 21, 2014) When you’re developing proposal pricing to beat an incumbent, you really need to get as many real data points as you can.  Try to get find at least two solid data points like the original contract value or the number of FTE on the contract.

One place to find the original contract value and all the modifications over the Period of Performance is the Federal Procurement Data System (www.FPDS.gov). Learn how to search in this database. You can find almost any federal contract award and who it was awarded to using this monster system.