If the RFP is very detailed, then it may be easier to discriminate yourself in the transition plan than in your required responses to the statement of work etc.
Neutralize the Incumbent
One way to neutralize the incumbent’s advantage is to also not need a transition period. This requires doing a lot of upfront homework and investment. It involves proactively hiring everyone you are going to need and naming names. Additionally, you have to demonstrate that you know all of the required procedures and that you can reach full capacity on Day 1. If this is just not possible, then consider cutting the transition period in half. Just do something creative to discriminate yourself from the competitors, who are likely to comply with the RFP rather than exceed it.
Extra Incumbent Advantages
If you are the incumbent, then you can talk about how you don’t need a transition period because you are already in place. But if they have specified that there will be a transition period, another approach would be to say that you will take advantage of the transition period to make improvements. Change can often be even more disruptive than a brand-new start. While there are advantages to being an incumbent, it also comes with the disadvantage that the customer thinks they know your limitations. If your competitors are going to compete against you as you are, then you must become something better. It is almost a given that your competitors will be proposing “fresh ideas” and “innovations.” A transition period gives you an opportunity to raise the bar. Documenting the phase-in of your new procedures and improvements will make your innovations more credible.
“Tuning” the Transition to the Customer
It is important to understand exactly how much the customer wants to be involved during the transition. Some customers want to be fully involved, while others see it as a burden. Getting this wrong can turn the customer negative towards your proposal. Therefore, you need to put research about their preferences high on your priority list before the RFP is issued.
Tricks to Max Out Transition Scoring
Finally, if there are written evaluation criteria, you need to consider how the Transition Plan is scored. Sometimes the instructions direct you to create a separate Transition Plan; sometimes it is part of the Technical Approach, but most often it is part of the Management Plan. The Transition Plan is often not separately scored. The section with the higher weighting (Technical Approach or Management Plan) should determine where you address transition issues. You must put your Transition Plan where the RFP directs. If it is in the Management Plan (and it receives far less weight in the evaluation than risk), I would put the schedule and details of the Transition Plan in the Management Plan (as directed) . . .but discuss specific transition issues (staffing, resources, disruption, etc.) in the context of reduced risk within the Technical Approach. Keep in mind that if there are written evaluation criteria and the customer follows a formal evaluation process, then your proposal will not be read, it will be scored.