Tag Archives: rfp management software

How to Respond to an Request For Proposal {RFP}

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.

#6. Review!

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

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.

Press Release: Zbizlink adds proprietary RFP Parser and more to ramp up business development solutions

BALTIMORE, Jan. 14, 2020 – Zbizlink announced today the immediate release of the proprietary RFP Parser, a new solution, that allows instant data extraction and drag and drop editing to increase efficiency during request for proposal (RFP) review and task assignment.

A unique add-in to the feature-rich tool, Zbizlink’s RFP Parser allows users to import and parse lengthy, complex documents into manageable sections, such as Proposal Summary, Scope, Background, and other requirements. The new release reinforces a longstanding company commitment to provide quality technical solutions that add user value.

“We understand the challenges of the proposal management process,” said Amjad Nagrah, CEO of Zbizlink. “Reviewing long RFPs with technical and industry jargon causes confusion and takes up time, and this is before the proposal process starts. Zbizlink’s RFP Parser mitigates those challenges and allows proposal teams to be strategic about data management and meeting requirements. We were careful to consider the workflows involved when designing the Parser.”

Zbizlink’s RFP Parser is not limited to importing just RFPs. It parses a variety of solicitation documents including requests for information (RFIs), requests for resume (RFRs), requests for quote (RFQs), and more.

In addition to the RFP Parser, Zbizlink released several other upgrades to the software available now, including:

  • Opportunity lifecycle management. Users are able to evaluate past performance and captured data to identify predictable patterns of success for repeatable solutions. Thereby reducing risk to secure more closed-won opportunities.
  • An upgraded user experience. Getting started with Zbizlink is easier so users don’t have to spend a ton of time learning how to use it. Upgrades support team collaboration and simplify workflow to as little steps as possible.
  • Secure, shared workspace. A major development, this upgrade helps users manage confidential information with authorized visibility and capture management, while ensuring seamless approvals within a secure workspace for unlimited team members.

To learn more information, visit Zbizlink.com.

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About Zbizlink:

Zbizlink is a dynamic, cloud-based proposal management tool for proposal teams. It combines six core business applications into a single tool to help small to corporate proposal teams automate the proposal process. More than just proposal management software, it’s engineered to ease government and commercial proposals and support the full business development lifecycle with super-smart, time-saving features and solutions.

05 Things RFP Writers Want Proposal Writers To Know

There’s a few things RFP writers want proposal writers to know. In this series, we discuss a few topics that lie at the heart of RFPs and proposal writing to help you look a little deeper into the strategies you use to create winning proposals, as well as how to enhance synergy among the RFP and proposal writer alliances of the world. If you’re new to proposal writing, this is for you too.

In case you’re wondering whether this will be something you’ve already read before, hang in there. At the end of this, you will look at RFPs differently, and maybe then, you will be able to respond to them differently too. FYI, the right understanding, the right RFP management and proposal management software, and the right strategy are the tools you need to win the next big contract.

First, some background…

If an organization has a problem or a target they are not able to meet on their own, they conduct procurement series and allow vendors to bid on the opportunity to fulfill those needs as a contractual supplier.

Vendors receive a document that has a detailed list of client requirements – this is the RFP (or other procurement related document). Then vendors respond to these clients within a specific response period, called a proposal deadline, with strategy to win the project or contract.

You – if you’re the proposal writer – help to represent the vendor as you write the response, and the company or government agency that releases the RFP is the prospective client with whom you’re helping to build a relationship.

Now that you understand the importance of your role in gaining new business and relationship building…

Here are 05 key insights that RFP writers want proposal writers to know:

#1. It is called a “deadline” for a reason

Hear us out. Rumor has it that the word “deadline” was based on the phrase “dead line”- a line or phrase used in the prison system. Prisoners were shot if they ever crossed the “dead line.” At the risk of getting too grim, let’s put this into context. When you respond after crossing the due date deadline, you get shot (or eliminated) from bidding. Your proposal response that you worked so hard on is not even considered.

It is very important to respond on time.

Clients send RFPs with the expectation that you will deliver the proposal before the deadline. Clients provide deadlines because they have deadlines too.

It takes a lot of time to read multiple proposals from vendors and decide which offers the best solution, and which vendor actually aligned their response with RFP requirements. Then there are internal deadlines to notify the winner(s). Thus, it is highly favorable for bidders to submit proposals on time and not request for extensions. A good RFP software with team collaboration tools can help streamline your proposal process.

#2. You need to read the entire RFP before responding to it

We understand. You’re busy. You probably have another proposal already in the queue, and you’ve done this before so you know where to look. Yes, deadline is important, yet compliance outweighs other priorities.

Proposal writers often skim through RFPs without devotedly reading. As a result, they miss important compliance factors and with one missed requirement, the vendor that your proposal represents is out of the bid race for reasons that could have been avoided. Either take the time to read each section, especially for federal government RFPs, or purchase the software that will help you parse the RFP faster and more accurately.

#3. You need to understand the requirements before you respond

Storytime: A company in the semiconductor industry sent out a simple RFP for staff augmentation. The project required engineers capable of cabling semiconductors. Semiconductors are very small devices that require the expertise of experienced engineers.

Somehow, one of the vendors who sent a proposal responded without understanding the requirement. The vendor’s proposal did an excellent job of explaining how they were the best partner for wiring and cable TV installation.

Yes! This is a true story!

It’s funny to read, but quite embarrassing to experience as a vendor. Those who lose bids are told, “You did not understand our requirements” or “Your solution had nothing to do with our problem.”

It is very easy to avoid this sort of industry-spread embarrassment. Thoroughly read the RFP – the entire thing.

#4. Presenting no partner is better than a noncompliant one

Clients find proposals less valuable when the partners picked for a bid are noncompliant or improperly validated. It is important to find the right partner when you are partnering to respond to an RFP.

Poor partner selection will cause you to lose the bid or incur damages in the future partnership. If the client identifies that the partner does not comply with some standards mentioned in the RFP, again your proposal will be thrown out.

Even if your vendor is planning to partner with a familiar organization, ensure that they are still up-to-date with all certification and other requirements.

#5. Format the proposal to match the RFP

Poorly formatted proposal responses are the easiest way to be noncompliant or lose the reader’s attention during evaluation. Guess what happens to a proposal that is hard to follow.

Often, poor formatting is the result of scrambling to put together a last-minute response or someone from a technical background writing the proposal. Technical SMEs are often concerned with technical explanation and less about structure.

A poorly formatted proposal reflects poorly on the vendor who sent it. It’s common sense: “That’s a shabby document. A shabby vendor sent it”. Avoid poor formatting and take your time to align the proposal response sections to the RFP sections.

We know this takes time, so get some extra help. Use ready-made proposal templates or the best proposal management software to customize each response template based on the requirements of each bid.

Conclusion

When you respond to your next bid, think about the RFP writer and the people who have to read every single proposal submitted. Keep them in mind and we’re sure your proposal will be chosen as a winner.