With the final RFP issued, a successful transition to proposal development hinges on one crucial activity: an exhaustive evaluation of the solicitation. This deep dive guides resource allocation, plan finalization, and team communication, laying the groundwork for a winning proposal.

Optimizing Proposal Development: Unveiling The Team’s Key Responsibilities

Upon receipt of the final RFP, a thorough review of all solicitation documents is mandated for all team members. The Proposal Manager’s presence and leadership of the overall RFP analysis activity are highly desirable. In their absence, the Capture Manager can assume these responsibilities until the Proposal Manager’s arrival. While a global overview by the entire team is essential, dedicated expertise is paramount for specific sections of the RFP to ensure a comprehensive and accurate understanding. Therefore, it is imperative to engage representatives from all applicable disciplines:

  • Technical personnel perform a meticulous analysis of all requirements and performance specifications.
  • A Contracts representative will concentrate exclusively on reviewing terms and conditions, ensuring compliance with all contractual obligations.
  • A Cost/Pricing specialist is tasked with critically examining pricing instructions and associated requirements.
  • The Proposal Manager or a designated specialist will devote particular attention to proposal development instructions and the customer’s evaluation methodology.

The participation of all relevant team members and subcontractors is integral to this critical review process. Additionally, seeking support from legal or HR counsel may be appropriate depending on the complexities of the RFP. Upon completion of the individual reviews, a team meeting can be convened to consolidate findings, identify any noteworthy items or potential concerns, and determine if further clarification from the issuing entity is necessary.

Strategic Timing in Proposal Development

Following the final RFP release, a period of 24-36 hours can be dedicated to the initial analysis and review of all documentation. This expedited timeframe is crucial, as the proposal deadline clock begins upon receipt. Recognizing the possibility of Friday releases, proactive measures are recommended. A designated individual tasked with monitoring potential release and a readily available call list of key personnel, prepared for immediate notification and file distribution, will ensure swift team mobilization for a comprehensive RFP analysis. These preparatory steps can potentially salvage two or more invaluable days allocated for proposal development.

Companies typically utilize the post-RFP-release phase for a decisive go/no-go evaluation. Significant changes, unforeseen challenges, or burdensome requirements within the solicitation may signal a strategic retreat. However, a firm decision to proceed with proposal development should trigger finalization of detailed plans and the official kickoff of preparation work, even if the formal go/no-go meeting is delayed for logistical reasons or briefing material finalization.

Key Priorities After RFP Release 

There are three key activities that need to take place in the first few days after the RFP release. These are:

  • Develop a schedule that includes key dates in the client’s review proposal process. These key dates should include question submission, scheduled reviews, and a sequence of events leading to submission. Using a tool like Microsoft Project makes the schedule easy to change and manipulate when the Government changes its mind, but not all clients at at ease using Project. Using a calendar in Excel or online may be more easily understood by the client but becomes harder to modify when changes are needed.
  • Flag ambiguities! Train your team to capture any unclear, incorrect, or conflicting areas in the RFP. The client will likely offer a Q&A window with specific submission procedures (online portal, format guidelines). Track the deadline in the proposal schedule. If the window is long, submit questions incrementally (weekly/every few days) to avoid bombarding them at the end.

Begin the development of an annotated outline and compliance matrix. The outline is a necessary step to get writers on the correct course for developing and providing content. A compliance matrix will take a little longer to develop but will be instrumental in ensuring that your reviews evaluate the right things and that you are meeting all of the solicitation requirements. Getting off to the right start will give your proposal team the guidance and assistance it needs to put your organization in the best place to win!