Getting Ahead of the RFP Release: Proposal Planning-#10 Capture Process Improvement Lesson Learned
(10) Perform Proposal Planning.
This last lesson learned for Capture Management is a great segue into our next Top 10 List, for Proposal Management Lessons Learned. A well-defined capture plan / win strategy can be easily transformed into a winning proposal, with proper planning.
You can perform prior procurement research to get a head start on the proposal for re-compete opportunities. Use prior RFPs to plan proposal resources, do a preliminary past-performance down-select, conduct solution development, and gather appropriate model content.
You can analyze previous procurement history prior to the Final RFP Release. For re-competes, use a bid search tool / archived FBO records to examine the procurement timeline. For new requirements, refer to records for similar procurements managed by the same agency that will be administering the contract. This procurement timeline research will provide insight into the projected proposal response period for proposal development schedule planning and the projected number of Amendments for proposal update planning.
As the opportunity being pursued is being tracked, you can review previously released or advance solicitation documentation prior to the Final RFP release (if available). For new requirements, review the SSN/RFI, Draft SOW/PWS, and/or Draft RFP. For re-competes, review the Final RFP used in the competition for the current contract UNLESS a Draft RFP for the upcoming procurement has been released. This review of the previously released and/or advance solicitation documentation allows you to:
- Understand / interpret requirements, comparing previous requirements to new / updated requirements to identify solution development requirements;
- Assess capability and past performance gaps to identify teaming and data call requirements;
- Perform past performance “down-select” to identify the most favorable references for obtaining the highest ratings possible on past performance and update the selected references as needed, including updates to demonstrate experience relevant to the SOW/PWS;
- Develop questions / refer to previously released Q&A; and
- Identify resource (personnel and non-personnel) requirements for proposal development – aka proposal “lift” – based on number of proposal volumes, number of pages per volume, proposal submission requirements, etc.
Given a previously released or Draft SOW/PWS, it is possible to begin solution development. This involves defining your comprehensive offer and its features to meet customer requirements specified in the SOW/PWS, including a technical and management approach, before any proposal writing begins. Your solution becomes the basis for writing the proposal. The solution considers what you need to propose in terms of personnel resources (labor categories and labor mix that comprise the staffing plan) mapped to tasks (WBS), schedule (determined by total labor hours for each task), equipment and materials resources, cost (per basis of estimate), project plan, and anything else in your offer that is necessary to meet the requirements.
Given a previously released or Draft RFP, it is possible to begin proposal development based on your proposed solution. You can outline each draft volume based on the Section L Instructions, Section M Evaluation Criteria, and SOW/PWS requirements. You can also begin populating this outline with tailored model content from your Proposal Library. This involves updating your “boilerplate” responses on various topics (e.g., technical approach to meet specific requirements, management approach, etc.) to ensure that it reflects an understanding of the targeted customer environment and requirements. This advanced proposal development should also reflect the win themes and win strategy developed as part of capture planning.
Getting a head start on proposal development BEFORE the Final RFP is released through effective proposal planning significantly reduces proposal risks and prevents any 11th hour proposal crises during the active proposal response period.