To develop the proposal instructions and evaluation criteria, find more recent RFPs issued by the same contracting office. The criteria in these RFPs can provide clues as to how the current regime likes to structure their solicitations.

To develop the SOW, extrapolate from the old RFP to figure out how to describe the current requirement. Do the same thing for the instructions and evaluation criteria.

Even if you can’t find relevant RFPs, you can still create a Mock RFP. Make assumptions about what kinds of sections will likely be required —and then use what you know about the opportunity to imagine what might be required in each section. Don’t worry that such guessing will give you a Mock RFP different from the real RFP. It doesn’t matter. You are not going to write a response to the Mock RFP. You are going to do the thinking and planning necessary to respond to it. And that thinking and planning will be of enormous value when the real RFP arrives, even if the two RFPs are different.

Once you have your Mock RFP, create a detailed plan for responding to it. For each section, develop a detailed outline of the content, theme statements, and graphic sketches. Don’t bother with writing nice sentences and paragraphs at this point. Then subject your detailed proposal plan to a Pink Team review before the real RFP arrives. Ask the reviewers:

• Does the plan reflect a path to compliance?
• Do you have a compelling story to tell?
• Where are the gaps in your solution and what actions might you take — before the RFP arrives — to fill them?

The Mock RFP helps you increase your win probability by enabling you to address and answer these questions sooner.