Tag Archives: proposal management

Find the Wining 03 Tips to Federal Proposal Writing

Just like any company, government organizations have needs that they find hard to fulfill on their own. Hence, they send out RFPs in the open market and make public announcements seeking any prospective bidders. Usually, government RFPs have fixed budgets, and hence, projects awarded are fixed-price contracts. Unlike commercial RFPs, government RFPs are usually hard to read and have complex jargon and legal terminology layered in nearly every single section.

In this article, we give you three tips (and a bonus tip) to help you respond well to a federal RFP and be compliant.

Tip 1: Know what is in each section

  • Section A contains the most basic information such as contact information, important addresses, solicitation number, guidelines and deadlines for submission, specific submission instructions, and even information on current incumbents.
  • Section B requires you to enter information on billing. You will need to enter in detail line by line on various billable expenses such as travel, labor, supplies, etc
  • Section C gives you the Statement of Work (SOW). The SOW forms the essence of what services are required and how they are expected to be delivered. It is crucial that this chapter must be thoroughly studied and analyzed by the delivery teams.
  • Section L gives you details on formatting, organizing and laying out of content. It may also contain additional submission requirements- such as a maximum page count, margin, spacing, font, etc.
  • Section M gives you details on how you will be scored and what are the scoring criteria. Focusing on this will help you evolve a strategy that will enable you to have a high likelihood of winning the deal. Reading section M and C together will enhance your ability to create a sound winning strategy and value proposition.
  • Section K has information on representations or certifications that you need to provide. This is especially important if the RFP requires only a specific type of a bidder, such as a US Firm, a minority bidder, a woman-led enterprise, etc.

Step 2: Ensure 100% compliance with a compliance matrix

Often, proposal writers and managers avoid creating compliance matrices because they may take much time to prepare. They feel that they would be more productive if they directly spend their time in responding to the RFP. However, industry studies have shown that creating a compliance matrix before writing an RFP response actually saves more time than they take to prepare.

Even if your font size does not match the compliance criteria mentioned in section L, your proposal will be instantly dismissed. It is crucial therefore that each compliance factor is captured well and adhered to by the proposal writers and contributors. We strongly recommend using a good capture management tool to auto-fetch the compliance factors, or to note down the compliance factors in a spreadsheet manually. Zbizlink provides a capture management tool that will fetch all relevant compliance factors for you so that you can focus on what is more important: strategy.

Tip 3: Read and Ask, Don’t Assume

Proposal writers who work on federal RFPs end up being either too complacent or too worked up while responding to a federal RFP. They either overthink of the RFP or too little. While you can use the above guidelines to find the information you need, depending only on the above guidelines may cause you to miss out on some important guidelines that may be hidden in other sections of the RFP. Hence, it is a good practice to glance through the entire RFP once to ensure that you have not missed anything before the kick-off call. During the kickoff call, allocate specific chapters to be re-read by a specific date by specific accountable proposal contributors. Since federal RFPs have long response times, ensure that the entire RFP is read thoroughly before responding.

Just like how proposals contain much boilerplate content, RFPs also contain much boilerplate content. Contradictions and confusions are commonplace. If you are not sure what the RFP’s intention is in-regard-to a specific matter, ensure that you ask about it. You can usually find guidelines for queries on the RFP and how they can be addressed in section L of the federal RFP. Ensure that the RFP is thoroughly read, and all queries are noted and sent to the customer by the date mentioned in section L.

Bonus Tip: Use a proposal management software.

Good proposal management software will help you organize and prepare the proposal better. Instead of wasting time on mundane tasks such as finding compliance factors, getting approvals and developing and maintaining proposal schedules, a good proposal management software will help you do the same, with a lot less effort. Consider using Zbizlink, a proposal management software built by proposal managers for proposal managers.

Zbizlink is entirely online, ensuring that all communication regarding a proposal is available in one place. It also helps you with scheduling, getting approvals, ensuring compliance, finding resumes and teaming with partners who have relevant resources, among other things. Save time. Don’t bid to respond. Bid to win, with Zbizlink.

7 Quick Tips to Find the Best Proposal Management Tool

Every single seller will tell you that their proposal management tool is undisputed, unequivocally, unmistakably the best proposal management software in the whole wide world. While some specialize in a particular area, others perform multiple functions.

In a world where there are so many proposal management tools, how do you select something that would really solve your problem instead of ending up in the valley of despair, where other procured enterprise tool has been condemned?

#1. Relevance over Aesthetics: We’ve been given this advice since childhood, and yet, the human brain falls prey to how things look. Often, a fancy ppt and a colorful sales pitch, and even a choreographed demo presented to a senior manager end up winning the votes. Beware of tools in the market that look great but don’t serve the purposes that matter. Remember those aesthetics come only second to the effectiveness

#2. What exactly are your requirements? We’ve noticed that quite often, organizations do not have a good set of requirements when they are procuring a proposal management tool. It is a good practice to have a well-articulated and realistic set of requirements when seeking a proposal management software. If you have a tool that performs multiple functions, focus on your key needs and priorities and seek a tool that solves the biggest problems best.

#3. The best vendors let you use it for free: For a while at-least, test and use the free version of the tool. Ask the vendor and see if you can get to use the full version for a month at no cost. See if you are comfortable using the tool. Make notes on the response time once you have clicked a few buttons.

#4. Does it save time and effort? We use chainsaws instead of axes because it takes less time to chop a tree with a chain saw than an ax. It also reduces the effort taken to chop a tree. The same goes for tools. Ask the following questions:

  • Does it save time and effort in proposal development?
  • Can you quantify the time and effort saved by using the tool in your environment?
  • Do you lose money or an equivalent amount of time by not using this tool?

Answering yes to all the above questions is a good justification for purchasing the tool, but there are more questions to be asked.

#5. Can it help you win? While all proposal management tool saves time and effort in some way or the other, the more important question that you must ask is if it will increase your likelihood of winning deals. It will not matter if you save all the time and effort in the world and end up on the losing side. Ask the following questions to

  • What strategic output will the tool generate that will enhance your likelihood of winning?
  • Will you be able to generate a better proposal by using this tool?
  • Will you be able to develop a competitive edge by using this tool?

#6. Can potential risks be mitigated?

Winning and losing a deal are pretty much two sides of the same coin. Hence, you must ask if the proposal management tool reduces your likelihood of losing the deal. To begin with, ask the following questions:

  • Will the tool mitigate your risk of non-compliance?
  • Will the tool reduce your likelihood of losing?
  • Does the tool track deals that you’ve lost and provide analysis on the same?

#7. What are the perks?

In addition to the above questions, it would be good to ask a few more which are as mentioned below:

  • Are there features in the tool not necessary now, but which you may need in the future?
  • Does the vendor offer after-sales support?
  • What are additional features for the tool available in the pipeline?
  • Do the price and functionality justify the purchase?
  • Is there are price hike that is expected over the years?
  • What are the future plans for the tool?
  • Do they take your suggestions for improvements?

Zbizlink was literally built by proposal managers for proposal managers. We built it because we could not find a single product in the entire market which could sufficiently help us with our needs for proposal management. We wanted a tool that could increase our win rates. We wanted a tool that could save time and help us manage the time we had before submission deadlines. We wanted a tool that can help us parse resumes for Request for resumes RFR, autofill documents and make the entire approval process very clear.

Moreover, hence, Zbizlink was born- out of a need that the market could not meet. Curious to know more about what Zbizlink can do for your business? Get in touch with us now!