So where are we now with about 50 days until Halloween, my predicted final due date for the SEWP V proposal? The NASA SEWP Bowl anticipates 1,300 proposals for the four competition groups and only intends to award about 80 contracts. If the SEWP contract awards were equal in all groups that would be 20 per group. That’s pretty easy for the non set aside groups A, C, and D. But that may be too few for the SDVOSB/HUB Zone Group B who are bidding in large numbers for SEWP and may clamor for more participation if not awarded. A little advice to those in the Mass Storage Devices bid Group B: Make sure you address the High Performance Mass Storage Devices Mandatory list correctly, because Nancy Palm is on the evaluation committee.
The END of Federal Proposals: Playing forward to the theme of Washington Post’s Outlook editor Carlos Lozada, everyone is declaring “the end” of something. This trend started in 1989 with the publication of Francis Fukuyama’s essay, “The End of History?” In the words of Fukuyama, “You perceive there is something going on-- saying it is ‘the end’ of something gives you that aha moment.”
As I was reading the Washington Post article, I began to hum the REM tune, “It’s the end of the world as we all know it and I feel fine”. “End“ works recently published include the following: No Exit: The ERRORS of ENDISM; The End of the Future; The End of War; The End of Power; and The End of SEX. In The End of SEX, the story is about college students hooking up, but there appears to be, as we say, no “END GAME”.
Every company writing proposals faces the critical question:
- Do we use permanent staff (insourced) or
- Do we use consultants (outsourced)?
This question is more important than ever before, due to the Sequestration. Winning the most contracts for the least investment is now a matter of life and death for many government contractors.
During the past 20 years, I have seen many companies facing this question. Their answers have ranged from purely insourced, to purely outsourced. Most companies fall somewhere between the two extremes. So the question becomes, "What is the right mix of permanent staff and proposal consultants?" The decision on where to be within this spectrum depends primarily on two factors:
- What are our business development goals;
- How granular are the proposals; and what is the flow of the proposal work?
Contractors must be aware that agencies are focusing on price, regardless of the stated evaluation criteria – and speak up when the final decision doesn't seem to match up to the stated requirements.
With large budget cuts or even mandated sequestration looming after Jan. 1, the concern among government contractors is strong, indeed palpable. Unfortunately there are no quick fixes or easy solutions to this daunting problem, nor even clear mileposts of specific developments to watch out for.
This is a time when companies' leadership and character is truly tested. While there may not be easy or readily apparent solutions, there are several steps companies and their leaders should take.
The Proposal Market over the next 6 – 9 Months: How the elections, spending sequestration program and 2012 appropriations process will affect our industry.
Attempting to predict the proposal market now is more difficult than any time I recall in the past 15 years. The market is facing the triple challenge of the presidential election, the spending sequestration program, and the 2013 appropriations process. Contractor companies and proposal consultants are additionally facing a fourth challenge as analysts more and more predict another recession. In this article we will attempt to assess how these four factors may affect the volume of solicitation releases during the coming months.
During my 35 years in the proposal business, I have been amazed to see how many bidders lose the competition because they haven't adequately prepared for the bid. "Not being prepared" may take many forms. One of the most common forms of inadequate preparation is to assign personnel who don't have proposal experience. This is especially true for companies that try to keep valued personnel by assigning them to work on proposals until a more permanent position can be found. For these companies, it doesn't matter if the employee can't spell "proposal." It is also quite common for small businesses to refuse to begin work on their proposal until the RFP is released. They believe they can reduce expenses by waiting until the last minute. It's as if they are saying to themselves, "We cannot afford to develop the proposal correctly, but we hope we can still win even though we are starting work at the last minute."
There are lots of ways to write a really great, but losing, proposal. Some companies are better at it than others, but I’d bet that all have found ways to lose that “sure thing” at least once in their history.
The five proposal “tactics” here as sure-fire ways to invite trouble. No matter how experienced you may be, it never hurts to ask yourself whether your proposal teams are at least a little guilty of these five popular ways to write a losing proposal.
The Proposal Plan: The Proposal Manager Prepares this Document to Guide the Proposal Creation Activity
During the proposal creation process, another of the key documents is the Proposal Plan. The Proposal Plan is written by the Proposal Manager, in conjunction with the Capture Manager, as soon as the proposal effort begins.
The release of a final RFP is the trigger for shifting from the capture (or pre-proposal) phase to the proposal development phase. It may be a time when several concurrent activities are initiated as the team works to quickly assemble resources, finalize plans, notify team members, brief management, and perform other activity for effective transition to this phase. The following focuses on the specific activity related to evaluating the solicitation.