Responding to an RFP can be rewarding when done correctly. It is a rigorous process, but once you have done it more and more, the process becomes second nature. The RFP response process involves working with subject matter experts, putting together an in-depth document that adheres to RFP instructions, answers the questions and requirements in the RFP, and maintains compliance. You can certainly be creative in the process – the best proposals incorporate creative ways to showcase the solution.
Here are some tips on how to respond to an RFP:
#1. Read the RFP
It may sound like common sense, but the history of noncompliant proposals says otherwise. Save yourself the heartache of working hours on a proposal just to be deemed unresponsive or noncompliant. Read the RFP thoroughly and ensure that you have at least two other team members reading the RFP with you. The technical subject matter experts and proposal writers should be included on the RFP review team.
#2. Create a Compliance Matrix
As we said before, compliance is of the utmost importance and will take at least 20% of your RFP response process time if not more. Create a compliance matrix in the beginning of your process, while reading the RFP. Microsoft excel spreadsheets or an automated tool are helpful with this task. Simply add all the RFP requirements in one column along with the associated RFP section and add comments, response authors, and task due dates in the adjacent columns.
#3. Structure Response Layout
Based on the RFP requirements and your organization’s standards, create the layout for your RFP response. Draft the cover letter for the proposal, add your table of contents section, add the sections of the RFP with the stated questions in consecutive order as listed in the RFP, and include page numbers. This helps ensure compliance, as well as save you time during the writing phase.
#4. Onboard Your Response Team
Teaming is one of the most important aspects of winning government contracts and developing competitive responses. Your teaming decisions can include selecting competitive resources and subcontractor partnerships. Ideally, these team members will already be onboard for the opportunity, so your task is to communicate expectations, task assignments, and scheduling requirements to your full team once you have read through the RFP.
#5. Draft the Response
Use your compliance matrix to streamline the RFP response draft. Begin developing your response according to RFP requirements. Responsiveness is key. To be responsive, answer the exact question and try to reduce filler – meaning keep it short, sweet, and compliant. You can structure your responses with a value proposition, benefit to the client, and proof point that proves your solution is valuable. A proof point is simply past performance or case study information.
Compliance and quality proposals are only possible with consistent review. Schedule regular reviews for your proposal draft to ensure all subject matter expert intel is included where necessary, the response is compliant with the RFP, all attachments are included, and the submission guidelines are met. At least seven reviews are recommended and there should be more than one reviewer.
#7. Use an RFP Software
Developing RFP responses is tough business. It takes a lot of time and effort. The best RFP software on the market streamline the process for you. Leverage an RFP software to reduce redundant and manual tasks and automate processes for finer results.
RFP software are helpful tools to have in your arsenal of RFP response tricks. The industry has quite a few to offer. Why? The RFP process has several challenges that RFP software mitigate. You can judge for yourself just from our blog. Lack of time, compliance issues, miscommunication, disorganized teams, and poor analysis are just some of the challenges that proposal teams face.
These days RFP software like Zbizlink offer automation and AI features to intelligently address those challenges and improve processes. Zbizlink is a dynamic, cloud-based proposal management tool that combines six core business applications. More than just a proposal management tool, it’s engineered to ease government and commercial proposals and support the full business development lifecycle.
As you continue to pursue government contracts, make your life a little easier with the right RFP response tools, tricks, and resources.