Proposal/Response Planning

Why you should understand this

  • Creating an RFI response or RFP proposal is an investment: Create a high quality proposal can easily take 100 hours, so two and a half weeks and it goes way beyond writing. You need to:
    • Understand everything in the RFI/RFP including all the regulatory bits that don’t make sense
    • Find teammates, build relationships with those teammates, and sign agreements with them
    • Build your budget
    • Write a high quality and compliant proposal
  • Unless you are a solo-preneur lots of people are going to be involved: even if you are on a small team tackling a small proposal there can easily be three people involved,
    • One writing the management sections
    • One writing the technical sections
    • One building the budget
    • And everyone editing
  • Winning is all about compliance: The government is crazy about compliance. If your proposal is late, uses the wrong font, or fails to address every element of the RFP your proposal will be kicked out.
  • Planning and process are the solution: While process is not sexy it is the thing that will ensure you deliver high-quality proposals efficiently.

A reminder about “New to you” RFPs

  • If you learn about the need when it is an RFP you are behind the power curve: Researching, preparing for, planning, and creating a proposal is a lot of work, and if you are starting when the RFP comes out you are going to be sprinting to finish
  • Think hard about pursuing: Plenty of people have won contract that they learned about when the RFP came out but know that your odds are low
  • Double down on process: If you are late to the game and are feeling time pressured there’s can be a strong impulse to just start writing. If you do this we can almost guarantee that you will make administrative errors and produce a subpar product. Even if you are tight on time go through the research, prep and planning steps. You may have to scale them back but adhering to a strong proposal process is what will get you over the finish-line.

The elements of proposal planning

  • Reading the documents: You are going to read the solicitation documents multiple times. Initially you can scan for key sections but at some point you will need to read every word on every page. In this lesson we will discuss how solicitation documents are structured and how we recommend reading them.
  • Qualifying: Before you invest hundreds of hours into a proposal we recommend making another go/no-go decision
  • Outlining: Government solicitations tend to be confusing and badly organized. However, you are expected to produce a well organized and comprehensive proposal To do this we highly recommend creating an outline based on the solicitation.
  • Setting strategy: Before you begin writing you should develop a case for why the government should choose you and then check that your case is reflected in your proposal
  • Project planning: Setting a writing timeline, assigning roles, identifying document sharing & writing tools, deciding on major reviews etc

The level of planning will vary based on the time you have

  • Like with proposal preparation the depth of planning will vary based on the size of the proposal and the time you have