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:
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
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 base
|The 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 networks
|The 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
List of further reading