The ABCs of Proposals: Part 2

This article started as a joke between a good friend of mine and me. This friend—who is also in the proposal industry—recently had a baby. At first we joked that the poor child would fall asleep to her mama reading RFPs aloud to her. Then we thought, how cute would it be if we made an ABC Book for our future little proposal manager? And that turned into, well wouldn’t that just be a unique and fun format for a proposal blog?

So here it is, in its final form, Part 2 of 3: The ABCs of Proposals. If you missed the first article, you can read it here:

J is for Joint Venture (JV)
A JV is a business entity created by two or more parties, generally characterized by shared ownership, shared returns and risks, and shared governance. JVs can be a useful alternative to subcontract agreements in certain situations; for example, to leverage a teammate’s past performance where subcontractor past performance is not allowable.

K is for Key Personnel
When personnel qualifications are a high evaluation factor, it becomes even more critical choose the best, most highly qualified personnel for the project. Ideally, the Capture Team will select key personnel well in advance of the RFP release. The Capture Team and Resume Lead typically work together to develop criteria for selecting personnel based on the evaluation factors provided in the RFP and any other information known regarding the customer’s preferences.

L is for Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA)
LPTA procurements are intended to be used when “the requirement is clearly definable and the risk of unsuccessful contract performance is minimal.” LPTA is best suited for product deliveries. The award goes to the lowest priced offeror who submitted a technically acceptable proposal. LPTA procurements are generally evaluated in one of two ways. One approach is to determine the technical acceptability of all proposals and then identify which of these proposals offered the lowest price. Alternatively, the agency can determine which offeror has the lowest price first and then determine if that offeror also submitted a technically acceptable proposal.

M is for Management Volume
The management proposal must demonstrate that the offeror can manage the contract on time, on schedule, within cost, and in accordance with the contract requirements. The management approach should outline the overall management concepts used by the offeror and the specific type of management that will be employed on the contract. The proposed management approach must reflect the customer’s way of doing business, as well as the company's. This includes organizational elements, management systems, and documentation formats. Additionally, the management approach should demonstrate the flexibility to respond quickly and effectively to changes throughout the project lifecycle.

N is for Noncompliant
First and foremost, your response must be compliant. You should structure your response to the Proposal Instructions (typically Section L) and the Evaluation Criteria (typically Section M). Next map to other requirements, as required. For example, in technical sections, it may be necessary to map to certain Statement of Work (SOW) areas (typically Section C). To facilitate evaluation, consider including relevant RFP references in your section heading titles. Additionally, evaluators often do key word searches to find what’s important to them. Make sure all sections include key words from the instructions, evaluation criteria, and the SOW.

O is for Oral Presentation
The oral proposal is a method of evaluating offers for competitive procurements. The Government uses the oral proposal process to test the offerors’ understanding of the work and their capability to perform. Orals may be required in addition to a written proposal, or they can be required instead of a written proposal. Through the oral presentation, the evaluators can observe how well the presenters—typically the key personnel—work together as a cohesive team. During the presentation, evaluators will take stock of (whether consciously or unconsciously): cohesion, chemistry, professionalism, knowledge, integrity, and poise.

P is for Past Performance
The Government is interested in an offeror’s history of performance in terms of quality of product/service, cost control, timeliness of performance, business relations, and customer satisfaction. Agencies may validate performance through Contractor Performance Assessment Reports (CPARs) and/or evaluation questionnaires. To score high on past performance: 1) select references that will yield the highest marks on evaluation CPARs and questionnaires completed by your customers, and 2) create an effective presentation of past performance in the proposal.

Q is for Question and Answers (Q&A)
During the Final RFP phase, it's so important to take full advantage of the Q&A sessions. The core proposal team and impacted company stakeholders should thoroughly read the RFP with an eye for their individual expertise. For example, the Contracts Manager should review for areas of contractual concern, the Security Manager should review for any security implications, and Technical SMEs should review for items that may impact the technical solution. Make sure to ask questions where clarification is necessary. To help the Government keep their schedule, start gathering questions early, and submit the questions by the questions deadline.

Final Words and Part 3 Preview
Even though this started out as a joke between friends, this has definitely turned into a fun little article series jam packed with some useful tips and advice for proposal professionals. Next week we will cover R – Z. Can you guess which topics might be included?  

Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)


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