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How to Write Better Proposals

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Get tips on what information to look for in the RFP, what information you should provide, & how to write data to increase evaluation scores. Learn how to create winning proposals to close more deals.

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How to Write Better Proposals

  1. 1. How to Write Better Proposals 1 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018 Presented by: Shené Commodore, CPCM, Fellow President- Commodore Consulting, LLC
  2. 2. How to Write Better Proposals Outline A. Responsible vs. Responsive B. How to Properly read the RFP C. Core Proposal Components 1. Introduction and Executive Summary 2. Technical Proposal 3. Past Performance References 4. Cost Proposal D. Close (Q&A) 2 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  3. 3. How to Write Better Proposals Are you a Responsible and Responsive Bidder? A responsible bidder – fully capable to meet all of the requirements of the solicitation and subsequent contract. A responsive bidder - follows instructions as written in the bid or RFP. 3 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  4. 4. How to Write Better Proposals How to Read the RFP READ THE RFP OR BID IN IT’S ENTIRETY ! 1.Note any milestones / deliverables and due dates, special requirements, equipment, certifications, or key personnel required. 2.Note any notice requirements (termination, funding, amendments, pricing, invoices, auto-renewals). 3.Be sure you can meet all requirements and schedule guidelines. (Will you need a partner or subcontractor?) 4.Submit your response in accordance with the RFP / Bid instructions. 4 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  5. 5. What Are You Looking For? • Organization/Buyer info • Requirements • Processes • Contacts • Special Reports • Key Personnel • Special Requirements • Bad specifications • Unclear requirements • Unnecessary requirements 5 CommodoreConsulting,LLC (c)2018
  6. 6. Entrepreneurial Ecosystem 6 CommodoreConsulting,LLC (c)2018 Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. Mazzarol 2014
  7. 7. 7 CommodoreConsulting,LLC (c)2008
  8. 8. Read the ENTIRE Solicitation • Read and take note of the customer’s requirements, org mission, special requirements, communication preferences? • What, when, where, how, why? • Is this solicitation set-aside, location, clearances? • When is the proposal due ? • When are questions due? • How will the contract be awarded • Sealed Bids (FAR Part 14) • Negotiated (FAR Part 15) – also known as competitive proposals. • What type of contract is envisioned e.g., Cost or Fixed Price ? • Is this a simplified Acquisition? • What are the dollar thresholds?
  9. 9. Bid or No Bid? 9 CommodoreConsulting,LLC (c)2018 Go/No Go Decision Bid Factors Bid Factor Scoring Scale Estimated Score Negative Neutral Positive Our Company Top Competitor1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1.Are you known by the client? Unknown to this client Known to client, but not fully cultivated Well-developed working relationship; previous contracts 2.Is this the first you heard of procurement? Did not expect RFP; unprepared Generally up-to-date; no major negatives Known 3-12 months; good favorable, confirmed intelligence 3.What is our overall technical capability/position, in- house staff? Not qualified; weak relevant experience Capable; understand problem; experienced Can meet/exceed every requirement; technically superior 4. Core Business/ Operations Counter to core business and corporate direction Neutral to core business and corporate direction Partial to Fully aligned core business and corporate direction 5. Adequate Equipment/Staffing Do not have equipment/staff in house Need to obtain equipment/RFP staff Equipment/ Staff in place and ready to use 6. Are subcontractors needed? Yes, but will dilute position. Less than 50% of content is from our company Yes, but will have little or no effect. Between 50%-75% of content is from our company Yes, and will enhance overall proposal. Between 75%-90% of content is from our company 7.What is the financial potential? Marginal long term; no short term return Good long term; questionable short term Excellent long term; excellent short term
  10. 10. Constructive Change Involves: •Order: improper word or deed by government - Could be inaction •Overt change in gov requirements •Acted upon: required contractor effort that was not part of the contract Must Result in: •Increase cost: change in performance beyond original contract requirement GOV CONTRACT TIP HANDLING CONSTRUCTIVE CONTRACT CHANGES & RECOVERING REASONABLE COSTS Common Types of Constructive Contract Changes: •Contract Misinterpretation •Defective Specifications •Interference/ Failure to Cooperate •Withhold Superior Knowledge •Acceleration A CONSTRUCTIVE CONTRACT CHANGE happens when a contract is modified by an act, omission or for other reasons, but without a written change order or modification by the authorized contract officer. Contractors / Vendors must notify the CO as soon as possible the work is considered a contract change. The vendor should submit facts in writing demonstrating the contract change and related costs to request a formal contract change or seek a request for equitable adjustment (REA) to recover reasonable cost.
  11. 11. Constructive Change Involves: •Order: improper word or deed by government - Could be inaction •Overt change in gov requirements •Acted upon: required contractor effort that was not part of the contract Must Result in: •Increase cost: change in performance beyond original contract requirement GOV CONTRACT TIP HANDLING CONSTRUCTIVE CONTRACT CHANGES & RECOVERING REASONABLE COSTS Common Types of Constructive Contract Changes: •Contract Misinterpretation •Defective Specifications •Interference/ Failure to Cooperate •Withhold Superior Knowledge •Acceleration A CONSTRUCTIVE CONTRACT CHANGE happens when a contract is modified by an act, omission or for other reasons, but without a written change order or modification by the authorized contract officer. Contractors / Vendors must notify the CO as soon as possible the work is considered a contract change. The vendor should submit facts in writing demonstrating the contract change and related costs to request a formal contract change or seek a request for equitable adjustment (REA) to recover reasonable cost.
  12. 12. Buyer Responsibilities: •Have the proper stakeholders review the design specifications and sign for approval •Make sure required test methods & standards are applicable and current. You should provide references. •Request vendors to notify you immediately with any questions and concerns regarding the specifications. •Make sure the specifications are current, not outdated. GOV CONTRACT TIP: HOW TO HANDLE DEFECTIVE DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS Bad Design specifications can cause constructive contract changes, increase risks, and lead to higher contract costs. Vendor Responsibilities: •Notify the CO and authorized representatives in writing of the defective specification immediately •Document how you were misled by the errors •If you are required to build to the plans/ specs provided by the govt or buyer, you are not responsible for consequences of the defects. •Assert your rights • Right to non-performance if performance is rendered impossible or impracticable. You must show it is impossible for anyone to perform, not just you. • Right to an excusable delay *Both parties have a duty to cooperate in the execution of the contract. *Vendors, if you know the specs are wrong but still perform, you cannot recover.
  13. 13. Are you a Responsible Bidder? 13 CommodoreConsulting,LLC (c)2008
  14. 14. HOW TO WRITE BETTER PROPOSALS Common Mistakes • Failure to show understanding of the problem • Failure to show basis of pricing • Not providing prior relevant experience information • Inadequate project research or business development • No proposal signatures or inclusion of all forms 14 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  15. 15. HOW TO WRITE BETTER PROPOSALS Common Mistakes – Misinterpretation of Experience • Relevant experience should be similar in scope and complexity • “What” similar work have you completed ? • Is it a natural progression and related to your past project work? • Past Performance • “How” well did you complete the relevant work? • What will customers say about how well you performed? 15 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  16. 16. How To Write Better Proposals Core Proposal Components • Introduction and Executive Summary* Your introduction should be about the customer, not about you. The RFP told you what they want, why disengage them discussing anything else? 16 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  17. 17. How To Write Better Proposals Core Proposal Components 17 Plan the Readers Journey •What is the situation? •What is the challenge? •State the resolution. •State when the resolution will be realized. *Establish an audience connection! HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c) 2018
  18. 18. Create a STAR Moment 18 • Significant • Sincere • Motivating Moment that magnifies your big idea and makes your solution stand out. HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  19. 19. How To Write Better Proposals Core Proposal Components Introduction and Executive Summary* •Provide an overview of your understanding of the problem •Start by telling them how you will meet their needs. How are you going to meet the requirements? •What benefits will they gain from using your solution? •Speak clear, easy to understand language •Avoid jargons and clichés 19 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  20. 20. Technical Proposal 1.Explain your solution and how it will meet the requirements. •State this information in the same order as the RFP and in accordance with the instructions. 2. Use a variety of narrative information and graphics •Narratives should be used to explain features and benefits of your solution. •Graphics can be used to explain technical details and processes 3. Do you have success stories to share of your solution? “Stories are the currency of human relationships.” Robert McKee 20 Conveying You Can Do the Job Core Proposal Components HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  21. 21. Management Approach / Plan •Structure •Schedule •Communication •Key Personnel – be sure to use the same resume format when providing resumes •Outsourcing, subcontractors, or partners role • Be sure to discuss subcontract management and the role subcontractors will play 21 Conveying You Can Do the Job Core Proposal Components HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  22. 22. Partners and/or Subcontractors •Letter of Commitment •Subcontract Agreement •What percentage of work will they perform •How will they be paid •Do they have a history of success in this area •Do they have a relationship with the customer •Have they been debarred, suspended, terminated •Have there been any civil claims filed against them recently •Who will manage them 22 Conveying You Can Do the Job Core Proposal Components HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  23. 23. Past Performance •Briefly discuss 2-3 prior projects to demonstrate relevant experience •These projects should be: • Similar scope, size, requirements • Not more than 3 years old • Discuss period of performance and solutions • State if you were the prime/lead or subcontractor 23 Conveying You Can Do the Job Core Proposal Components HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  24. 24. Costs Proposal – Follow instructions ! •Always identify direct costs and other direct costs •List special notes or assumptions for costs related to items not clearly defined but that should be taken into consideration. •Is travel included? 24 Conveying You Can Do the Job Core Proposal Components HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c) 2018
  25. 25. Costs Proposal – Follow instructions ! •Are there extra charges for special requests or repetitive services? •Are there set up fees? •Are there penalties or late fees? •Do project delays cause additional fees to be incurred? •List optional or related value-added services 25 Conveying You Can Do the Job Core Proposal Components HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  26. 26. Reviewing Your Proposal 26 • Is there a big idea? • Do small, incremental decisions lead to the big idea? • Are there clear, factual evidence for assertions listed to support all points? • Is your call to action clear? • Have all issues in Section L, Section M, and Section C been addressed? HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  27. 27. Eval Review: Technical Questions • Did the offeror provide a detailed and comprehensive statement of the scope and purpose of the project, demonstrating a complete understanding of the intent and requirements of the contract? • Did the offeror adequately describe their technical approach in a manner that demonstrates that the services required of IDIQ and sample task orders will be successfully accomplished, not simply a recitation of the requirements? • Did the offeror identify relevant potential problems that could or may be encountered demonstrating a clear understanding of the requirement? 27 CommodoreConsulting,LLC (c)2018
  28. 28. Eval Review: Personnel Questions 28 CommodoreConsulting,LLC (c)2018 Did the offeror, for all proposed subcontractors, include a letter from the subcontractor detailing their willingness to perform as a subcontractor for specific duties, specifying what Did the offeror list the names, titles, and proposed duties of all personnel that will be assigned to this project demonstrating a clear understanding of the requirement? Did the offeror, for all proposed personnel, provide a discussion on their education, background, recent experience, and specific experience in performing the type of work that is called for by the statement of work? Did the offeror, for all personnel who are not currently members of the offeror's staff, submit a letter of commitment or other evidence of availability (resume does not meet this requirement)?
  29. 29. Eval Questions: Financial Capabilities • Did offeror adequately demonstrate their organization's financial capability to perform a contract of this magnitude? • Did offeror confirm availability of financial resources to pay staffing of required employees prior to reimbursement on invoices from the government? • If required, did offeror provide adequate letter of commitment and certification that confirms all accounts are in good standing from their Bank? • Did offeror provide a discussion as well as demonstrate that they have procedures and financial resources that are in place to assure the government that employees and subcontractors will be paid in a timely manner? 29 CommodoreConsulting,LLC (c)2018
  30. 30. Proposal Review Tools Cross Reference Matrix CLIN SOO SOW CDRL QASP Section L Section M Proposal Reference Solicitation Exceptions   Solicitation Document Page/ Paragraph Requirement Rationale for Exception 1 2 3 4 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c) 2018
  31. 31. Solicitation Number and Name Question Number Reference Question Answer Solicitation Change 1 Section _____ – Service Contract Act Wage Determination. “The Offeror shall use the DOL wage determination for the National Capital Areas in developing the CONUS labor rate ranges.” Would the government please provide the Wage Determination, Wage Determination number or a web link to it? The web link is www.wdol.gov. See revised section _______ Section _____ has been modified to include __________. 2 Round 1 Q&A #5d Can the Government please clarify that the hardship and danger differential pay set by the Department of State for contractor personnel traveling or stationed in potentially hostile areas will be an ODC? Confirmed. None. Proposal Review Tools HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c) 2018
  32. 32. HOW TO WRITE BETTER PROPOSALS Proposal Delivery Electronic or Hard Copy or In-person delivery? Multiple Copies? Who is responsible for putting the complete proposal together and packaging? How much time should be allowed to: • Put the final proposal together • Submit the proposal 32 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  33. 33. HOW TO WRITE BETTER PROPOSALS Follow Up Always follow up with the potential client Ask for a debriefing or meeting to discuss why you did not win? Ask if they will continue to inform you of similar projects Ask if they are any special items they are interested in you could keep them abreast of in the future? 33 HowtoWriteBetterProposals CommodoreConsulting,LLC(c)2018
  34. 34. HOW TO WRITE BETTER PROPOSALS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS President - Commodore Consulting, LLC Shené Commodore, CPCM, Fellow 770-590-5147 shene@commodoreconsulting.com www.commodoreconsulting.com Follow Us on Twitter @CommodoreC 34

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