Tag Archives: proposal development lifecycle

How to Manage the RFP Review Process More Efficiently

Now that you have the RFP, discover how to manage the RFP review process more efficiently. Managing the full proposal process is time-consuming, and RFP review is no exception. In this article, learn the most critical components of an RFP and how to streamline your RFP review process with effective skill and the right RFP software.

What is an RFP?

An RFP, in short, stands for request for proposal. Organizations or government agencies issue RFPs to procure external resources for a project or need that cannot be fulfilled with internal resources. Vendors respond to the RFP with proposals that detail solutions to the issuing organization’s problem.

A request for information (RFI) will often precede an RFP process to help organizations and government agencies weed out noncontenders and streamline vendor selection.

Why RFP Review Matters Most

Whether you are an experienced proposal writer or a business owner trying to win a new contract, RFP review is one of the most critical stages of the proposal development lifecycle.

RFPs – the well-written ones at least – provide a full picture of the issuing organization’s requirements and what the selected vendor can expect upon contract award. You have to read the RFP (rocket science right?), understand it, and then determine the next steps for a response.

Many vendor proposals fall short because they don’t have a clear understanding of the RFP. Think about it. If someone emailed you a reply that had zero to do with your original request, what would be your first action? DELETE.

Avoid potentially losing a new contract and wasting valuable time. Use these tips to help you understand the RFP, critically evaluate proposal management tools, and manage the RFP review process more efficiently:

#1  Maintain Clear Understanding of Vendor Capabilities

The easiest way to streamline the RFP review process is to pinpoint what opportunities are outside of the scope of vendor capabilities. You know what skills and services you offer. It is no sense responding to an RFP that requires even one thing beyond the scope of what you can provide unless you have subcontracting partnerships.

Keep a vendor capabilities matrix for quick reference, or simply talk to management to ask why you are responding to the RFP in the first place.

Disqualify the RFPs that do not fit your capabilities and save yourself the headache.

#2  Pay Attention to the Critical Sections First

Read the full RFP to gain a complete understanding. However, when it comes to efficiency, it will save you a great amount of time to pay attention to the most critical sections of the RFP based on your role.

For instance, as a proposal writer or bidder, the sections that require your immediate attention include:

  • Scope & Background
  • Technical Requirements
  • Evaluation Criteria

As the business owner or account personnel, you first want to understand:

  • Scope & Background
  • Cost Requirements
  • Terms and Conditions

Focus on the areas that matter to your role. In the chance that you are the primary resource for most of the proposal development lifecycle, it’s safe to pay attention to the Scope and Terms first.

#3  Spotlight Red Flags

There are certain cost requirements or terms that the vendor cannot meet. Along with disqualifying bids due to vendor capabilities, you also want to spotlight red flags that may very well be the reason your vendor is not chosen. A red flag could be fixed priced contractual terms when you usually require hourly-rate pricing.

Talk to management as soon as you spotlight the red flags to avoid issues in the future and track them for later reference in your proposal management software.

#4  Shred the RFP to Facilitate Review

To manage the RFP review process more efficiently, you need support. Government RFPs can exceed 200 pages in many cases, and one person reading that much information, dissecting it to understand, and then responding to it within the limited timeframe available is not feasible.

Shred the RFP into manageable sections to assign team members or other resources for review and map requirements into your compliance matrix. Rather than review page-by-page, shred the sections that require immediate attention.

Of course, one of the easiest ways to manage the RFP review process more efficiently is to leverage the right technology in the best proposal management software to help you complete these tasks.

How to Manage the Proposal Development Lifecycle

The development lifecycle of a proposal starts way before the RFP is received and this article will help you discover how to manage the full proposal development lifecycle. Many proposal writers seldom seem to pay attention to this and most often, it is because the process takes a lot of support and even more time. Another reason is that proposal writers do not have the right proposal management tools to help them manage and curate this information throughout the proposal development lifecycle.

In this article, we want to stress what information you must collect, and where you must begin. Collecting information never ends, but at a bare minimum, this article will tell you what to gather during the proposal development lifecycle to make your proposal persuasive, informative, and intelligent.

It starts with the sales team identifying the right market segments. Your market research teams identify and explore target markets and assess your potential to succeed in the market. Then, the benchmark your capabilities and figure out if the market is already saturated with similar players offering similar solutions. Once they have figured that out, they define a clear strategy that reduces the impact of your competition’s strengths and increases the effectiveness of your organization’s strengths. It would be great to have a proposal management software that will track these parameters- as often, this critical information gets lost in a pile of irrelevant email threads.

It is critical for any proposal author or manager to be aware of the inputs derived from previous phases of the lifecycle. Otherwise, when they write the proposal, the proposal will be void of the vital win themes that can be obtained from market assessment and strategic targeting. Therefore a proposal management software that tracks all these elements is so essential to business success

Once the market penetration strategy is developed, the organization must market the product or services they specialize in. They must implement their marketing strategy as planned, lest the potential customer misunderstands what we have to offer. In this phase, the marketing agents must note and track the conversations with potential customers, what they have to say about their needs and requirements. A proposal management software with opportunity management and assessment tools will be a great addition here to pick the right opportunities to pursue. The collection of this information and its effective duration is essential, and yet oft-ignored part of the proposal development lifecycle.

At this point, the sales team needs to circle down on the right opportunities to pursue. They must pick the battles that they can win, lest they waste their resources and energy on dreams and mirages they cannot feasibly reach. They must keep records of the strategy using a proposal management software so that those who are working on the proposal will know the strategy to implement in the writing

Once the marketing has been completed and customers are aware, the opportunities available must be assessed and funneled out. For this, the proposal development team and the sales teams must participate together in industry briefings, customer intelligence reports, and gathering specific program intelligence. At this phase, the customer’s requirements must be understood, and an initial position with the customer must be cultivated. Competitor strategies and how to overcome them must be an essential part of the opportunity assessment phase. Once all this information is collected, preferably on a proposal management software/ platform, the opportunity pursuit decision (also called Go/ No-Go decision) must be taken. Usually, organizations do not consider this information and seldom pass it on to the next and more crucial stage of the proposal development lifecycle- where the business proposal is written and developed.

The Bid Decision must be based on the answers to the following questions at a minimum:

  • Does the opportunity fit within our capabilities?
  • Who is the incumbent? Can we partner with the incumbent?
  • Do we have a good relationship with the customer?
  • Do we know and understand the client’s needs, goals and the impact of the solution?
  • Do we possess the resources and commitment to pull this off?
  • Can we deliver the proposal within the right timeframe?

It is important not just to ask these questions but also to keep the outcome within a system that can be accessed by those who are working on the proposal. If we do not have a systematic way of preserving and obtaining this crucial information, it is very likely that our win rates will succumb to the pits. A proposal management software will help to save this information and allow relevant members to access it throughout the proposal development lifecycle

Once the opportunity assessment phase is completed, we arrive at the proposal development phase. In this scenario, we either get the RFP from the customer, or we write a proactive proposal. The proposal manager must study the RFP or the statement of client requests to thoroughly understand the customer’s stated and unstated needs. Inferences need to be made, but of course, within the confines of logic. Any clarifications required are to be duly noted and circulated within the teams that are authoring the proposal. Once this is done, the team responsible must initiate a kick-off call and progress towards the development of the proposal from thereon.

The average proposal has about 100 micro iterations and ten major iterations throughout its lifecycle. Having the proposal in a single location where teams work collaboratively is a key to bidding and proposal success. We recommend using software like Zbizlink which can help you throughout the proposal development lifecycle. From capture management to opportunity assessment. From proposal development to delivery – Zbizlink is the best proposal management software to help you navigate the proposal development lifecycle.