Past performance


This is probably the most popular shaping technique because it works for very large and very small businesses and because you can effectively get a sole sourced award if no other companies can prove that they have done work that meets the past performance requirement.
How it works: The government has a justified fear that unqualified companies will win contracts and do a shoddy job. To mitigate this fear the government frequently asks that bidders provide previous examples of similar work. And this is no different from you asking for references when you are hiring a contractor to remodel your house, or choosing a dog trainer. You want to know that the person you are hiring has done this kind of work before
How many references: The first factor is how many references, or past performances, the government requires. So, does the government need to know that you’ve done this work once before or five times before?
How similar: The second factor is how close the previous work has to be to the work in the solicitation. For example if you were interviewing contractors to remodel your bathroom would you feel comfortable knowing that they had lots of experience remodeling other peoples bedrooms? Other peoples kitchens? Or would you only feel comfortable if that vendor had a track record of remodeling bathrooms?
Putting this all together: You want to:

  • Lock out as many competitors as you can: Advocate for the largest number of past performance with the most stringent similarity
  • Make sure you don’t get locked out: Ensure that you meet the past performance requirements

Identify your differentiators/ strengths

  1. Make a list of past performance: List each project (contract) your company has done
    1. Use your personal past performance: If you are a new business you may not have any corporate experience to leverage so you will have to use the experiences you and your partners have had at other jobs. And if you are going to use past performance from previous jobs be ready to advocate that the government allow these to count as corporate past performance. Your more mature competitors are trying to convince the government to only accept corporate level past performance.
  2. Map the characteristics of each past performance: List all the features of each past performance:
    1. Who was the customer?
    2. What was the nature of the work?
    3. How long ago was it?
    4. Where was it?
  3. Identify anything that was unusual about it: If all of your competitors have done the same project then getting the government to include a past performance requirement for that kind of project doesn’t help you (since everyone else meets that requirement). So you want to find things that were unusual about your projects so that you can advocate that the government put in a requirements related to the unusual bits (thus blocking competitors who’s projects didn’t involve the unusual elements)

Doing this analysis: This kind of past performance analysis can be challenging, but if you do it your shaping success will go up dramatically. So we’ve built a past performance questionnaire to help you

Review the upcoming acquisition

  • Stage agnostic: Regardless of solicitation stage (Forecast, RFI, etc) you can and should think about advocating for past performance requirements that align to your experiences

Why your differentiator/strength helps the government

Come up with a reason why your past performances make it more likely that your company could successfully deliver the work

The work in the solicitation:Making the case that the government should require certain past performance (that you happen to have)
Is in a specific city:The government should require work experience in that city: Make the case that 1) hiring in this specific city is tricky, or that there are city specific zoning and local regulations. 2) if the winner can’t hire or runs afoul of the zoning laws they won’t be able to complete the work 3) The government should require past performance in that city
The government should require work experience in any city: If you don’t have experience in that city make the case that 1) hiring in general cities is tricky, or that cities in general have zoning and local regulations that are similar to one another, but different from the suburbs or rural communities. 2) if the winner can’t hire or runs afoul of the zoning laws they won’t be able to complete the work 3) The government should require past performance in any city
The work is on a military baseThe government should require experience working on a base: If you have experience working on bases make that case: Base badging is tricky, finding people that can go on base is tricky, the stakeholders on a base are different. So the government should make that a past performance requirement
The work involves specific government computer networksThe government should require experience working on that network: Government networks are weird and frequently outdated. Make the case that the government should make network experience a past performance requirement

Other resources (Individual contract checks)

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