RFP Shredding - #1 Proposal Management Process Improvement Lesson Learned
(1) Carefully shred the RFP
Once an RFP is released, the first order of business is to carefully read through it and identify everything in it that is a requirement: this is also known as shredding the RFP. There are several purposes for RFP shredding:
- Support the bid/no bid decision making process;
- Understand and interpret requirements;
- Identify resource and proposal needs; and
- Develop questions to obtain clarification from the Government.
Some recommended guidelines for shredding:
- Look at Section M FIRST – this section defines the basis for award and evaluation criteria. If there are certain aspects of the award / evaluation criteria that present unfavorable, unexpected, or unattainable bid conditions and/or requirements (e.g., LPTA, pass/fail criteria such as certifications or security clearance requirements that cannot be met), then your bid strategy needs to be revisited ASAP (i.e., if you are unable to prime, then you will need to identify a prime teaming partner and try to salvage the bid through a subcontracting opportunity if possible).
- Look at Section L SECOND – this section provides the instructions and requirements for proposal development and submission. Most importantly, key due dates for questions and proposal submission (and any required past performance questionnaires) should be noted and factored into proposal development planning and schedule development. The “proposal lift,” or level of effort for proposal development in terms of the number of required Volumes, number of allowable pages / proposal content per Volume, and number of allowable past performance references. This initial “lift” assessment should also be factored into proposal development planning to identify resources needed for proposal writing and reviews based on available resources and other competing priorities and/or active proposal efforts. This includes resources and any inputs (i.e., data calls) required from your teammates.
- Look at Section C THIRD – this section provides the scope of work and background on how customer requirements align with contract performance requirements, or tasks, that must be executed. These requirements must be addressed through compliant responses in the proposal in accordance with the Section L instructions. Typically, the proposal must address your understanding of these requirements and your approach for meeting them to demonstrate low risk and high confidence in successful performance.
Once those three main sections of the RFP are initially reviewed, then look read the RFP from beginning to end, noting especially any unique price/cost items (Section B), delivery requirements (Section F), special contract requirements (Section H), and contract clauses (Section I) that must be met for compliance and award. Perform an inventory of all RFP attachments based on the Section J List of Attachments and review all files provided with the RFP.
As you read through the entire RFP and all attachments, begin developing a list of questions for clarification of ambiguous or inconsistent requirements. Then, start to assemble all of the considerations for bidding as you prepare for the bid / no bid review, which is the #2 Proposal Management Process Improvement Lesson Learned.