Why you should understand this
- Most new businesses down starve, they drown: There are thousands of bid opportunities released every day and it is very easy for new businesses to “chase shiny things,” adding lots of things to their pipelines, and never doing the work to win any of it.
- Sets you up for success: Structured and early engagement with an opportunity makes you much more likely to win
- Helps you get to “No” fast: New business owners don’t have nearly enough time to do everything, so you need a way to decide to pass on opportunities fast
- Some of the steps take a long time: Certain research and prep steps take a long time to complete, so you need to start early
What is the Prep Phase
- Starts when you learn about an opportunity: Prep starts the moment you discover that the government has a need that you could meet and it sort of doesn’t end till you submit your proposal.
- Sets you up for success: During the prep phase you are doing everything you can to make yourself successful when the government releases an RFI, Sources Sought, or RFP
What you are doing during bid prep
- Research: There are a few critical pieces of information you want to find for each contract you are considering (NOTE: Whether you do each of these steps depends on how much time you have, but in a perfect world you’d do all of it):
- FOIA: Government records generally are available to the public, so you can make a Freedom Of Information Act request to the government requesting a copy of the winner’s proposal and the contract with them.
- ID the previous (current) contract and the current winner: Depending on how you found the opportunity you might not know if there is an active version of the contract currently operating, and if so you will want to identify any active contracts, and who the winner of that contract is.
- How the previous contract was administered: If you can find the active contract you can research how the government made that purchase (e.g. did they issue an RFI? Was it a fixed price or cost contract, etc)
- Market: The more you know about the other companies in the market the better
- Customer: The more you know about the customer the better
- Qualifying: Qualifying is just a decision whether to pursue an opportunity, and you will qualify, and re-qualify each opportunities multiple times before you submit a bid. The effort you put into qualifying and the information you have available will change as you learn more about the opportunity, but we want to make a couple “fish or cut bait” decisions during the prep phase.
- Bid team: Depending on the size of the contract, and whether you can do all the work, and meet all the requirements in the solicitation you may need to partner with other companies. Finding, vetting, and collaborating with other companies takes time, and the best partners get snapped up early so we want to start early
- Shaping plan: Depending on when you find out about an opportunity you may have a couple months or a couple years to influence the government in your favor
- Project plan: If you are pursuing a larger government contract there is a lot of work to do and a lot of people involved so we recommend treating it like a “project” complete with a project plan and project manager
The level of preparation will vary based on the time you have
- This is the full list of things to do: In this class we are going to discuss everything you could do to set yourself up for success
- What you do will depend on how much time you have: If you identify a recompeting contract that is a year away from RFP you have a different set of prep options than if you find out about an opportunity when the RFP is release
- Calibrate your effort to the opportunity: If you are chasing a couple thousand dollar contract you probably don’t want to invest hundreds of hours into preparing for it (though you might invest extra time in your first few bids to learn about the market). But the big primes will invest literally millions of dollars preparing for contracts that they have to win.
The rest of this class
The rest of this class focusses on how to do each of the research and prep steps discussed here