On large and small RFPs, the Government may respond to dozens or hundreds of questions. On the EAGLE II RFP, there were over 1,000 questions from industry that the Government answered. Too often the questions are not adequately evaluated or even reviewed by important members of the proposal team.
How to efficiently handle questions is a challenge for many proposal teams, especially with the participation of niche contributors such as pricing specialists or technical SMEs who may have read the RFP many times, but who may have overlooked the Q+As. Here are some easy-to-use tips for the effective handling of Q+As:
1. Sort Them in Excel: Sorting the questions in excel allows you to organize them in a way that specialized members of the proposal team can access their answers quickly and easily. To do so, just make a column for the question, another for the answer, and then another for the type of Q+A it is (i.e., “pricing”, “technical”, “formatting”, etc.) In some cases the Q+A may not fit into one neat category. In such a situation, you might flag it as a general question, or mark it as applicable to multiple aspects of the proposal (i.e., “pricing and technical”).
2. Conduct Question Reviews: Almost all proposal schedules incorporate reviews of some kind, such as technical color team reviews and pricing reviews. Give the Q+A the same dedicated level of attention. After they are released, allow everyone a day or so to read them and schedule a special review of the Q+As.
3. Update Compliance Matrices: Most proposal teams rightfully prepare a compliance matrix and use it to perform a compliance check during proposal reviews and before submission. Don’t overlook the fact that the Q+As offer insight and clarification to the instructions and evaluation criteria, and warrant their own update of the compliance matrix. While the Q+As often accompany an amendment with clarifying instructions, they don’t always do so. When this happens, it is wise to update the compliance matrix with the exact wording of the Q+A so that writers and reviewers alike have the best information possible for the proposal.