Nine Factors that will Help Federal Contractors Select the Best Proposal Consulting Services

  |  January 10, 2013


These unfortunate realities make it necessary for federal contractors to be shrewder than ever before in selecting their proposal consulting resources. This issue is of paramount importance because of the cost and the potential outcomes. At any level of skill, a proposal consultant costs about half of what a lawyer costs, which is a lot. Further, given a set amount of up front work by the business developers, skilled proposal consultants can win significantly more contracts than consultants of lesser ability.

The story is told about a year when Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were the top golfers in the world. Their average scores differed by a fraction of a point. Yet top golfer Palmer earned twice as much as Nicklaus that year. As in the game of golf, a little more skill in the proposal consulting profession translates into many added dollars in contract wins.


Based on my 27 years as an agency owner in the industry, I believe the factors given below will serve as a reliable guide in helping both large and small business select the proposal consulting service that is best for them.

Nine Factors to Consider When Choosing a Proposal Consulting Service

Considering the nine factors below will help government contractors of all size to find the proposal consulting agency that best serves their needs. This includes large business, small business, and SDB firms:

1. Do they have a record of helping to win a high percentage of contracts bid? We all know there are numerous impediments to winning contracts such as lack of sufficient business development, defective pricing strategy, and many more. When all is said and done, however, does the candidate agency have a contract win rate over 80?

Answer: OCI has won 83% of contracts by dollar volume, and this includes helping customers win contracts ranging from $5 M to $50 B with an aggregate value exceeding $300 B.


2. Do they have a deep talent bench in all proposal consulting labor categories? Including cleared talent if needed? Specifically, can they provide proposal writers and proposal managers with domain and agency backgrounds? Do they have sufficient depth to replace consultants in the event of health or other problems encountered during the assignment? Do they have different levels of artists, coordinators, desktoppers, and production coordinators? Do they have good orals coaches as well as pricing analysts, PTW analysts, and competition analysts?

Answer: OCI has the largest qualified proposal consultant list in the business. This includes 350 regulars from a list exceeding 5,000 consultants. It includes a depth of talent in all categories from manager to writer, to artist, to administrators, pricers, PTW analysts, orals, and all standard labor categories, as well as technical, domain, and agency SMEs. There is also talent cleared to the TS/SCI level in all proposal labor categories.


3. Does the group have a solid track record in whole proposal preparation? Have they successfully worked a quantity of whole proposal jobs similar in size and complexity and type to the proposals you bid?

Answer: OCI has 20 years of experience in whole proposal preparation. We have assisted in helping customers prepare successful whole proposals in the $5 M to $50 B size range with an aggregate of over $300 B in contracts won.


4. Does the group have a demonstrated responsive service delivery process? And can they deliver qualified proposal consultants within your typical time frames? Can they provide consultants who not only are technically qualified but also will fit into your corporate culture? Can they successfully make consultant replacements when problems arise due to illness or other factors?

Answer: OCI sales personnel are trained in soliciting sufficient position information to provide talent responsive to customer requirements. Talent delivery is typically day-after-next, although orders for next day talent are common, and we successfully respond to orders for same-day service. (It is usually possible to provide a better qualified and lower priced talent match when one or two weeks of lead time is provided.) Further, OCI sales personnel have the experience and judgment to provide consultants who will fit into a particular corporate culture.


5. Does the group provide well-vetted and well qualified proposal consulting talent? Have the consultants been qualified through a stringent process of interviews and reference checks? Can the agency attest to the quality of the talent because of a previous history working with the consultant? Does the agency have a process for conducting background checks when needed? Does the agency provide senior personnel with a solid history of 15 – 20 years of related work experience?

Answer: The standard process at OCI for vetting talent includes resume analysis, three interviews, a reference check, and a background check when requested by customers. Over 80% of the time, OCI can provide “regular” consultants on assignments, thus adding a level of assurance that consultants are as reliable as advertised. Further, OCI can match consultants to the personality of the company, which facilitates successful assignments. Virtually all OCI consultants have more than 15 years of experience, and the large majority have more than 20 years of experience.


6. Does the group have an efficient proposal preparation process? Is their proposal process relatively simple to use but robust enough to manage a job similar in complexity to the proposals you prepare?

Answer: OCI typically uses the customer proposal preparation process. If the customer company has a good proposal process, it is counter productive to introduce a new process. However, if the customer does not have a well articulated process, we use the OCI proposal preparation process. The OCI process is a best practices Shipley compatible process that has proven efficient and easy to use.


7. Does the consultant group have a corporate character and “feel” that is compatible with your company? These factors are hard to put in words but easy to sense in a personal meeting.

Answer: Based on the fact we have 9 sales personnel including men and women of various ages and personalities, we can assign sales personnel compatible with customer needs. We are flexible, and our corporate philosophy is to always price our services and deal with the customer in a way that focuses on a moving point out two years in the future. Rather than taking undue advantage of a situation, we aim at remaining a long-term business partner of the customer company.


8. Does the company have a reputation for reliable and honest proposal consulting work, good problem solving, and ethical behaviour?

Answer: OCI is happy to provide references upon request


9. Does the group have a pricing scale that is compatible with your needs?

Answer: One large business customer refers to OCI as “the Shipley that is cheaper”. In addition, we recently launched a new division called OCI Express or OCX. This division provides discounted prices under exclusive contracts.




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