Are you looking to expand your business by scoring federal government contracts? Winning federal contracts can be a game-changer for small businesses, but the competition can be fierce. So, what strategies can you use to score higher and come out on top? In this blog series, we discuss proven tactics that can increase your chances of winning federal government contracts.
To start, developing a strong understanding of the procurement process is crucial. This includes understanding the evaluation criteria. By doing so, you can tailor your proposal to meet the needs of the government agency and highlight your unique strengths and capabilities.
A proposal is a document created by an offeror in response to a Request For Proposal (RFP) issued by a government agency or commercial company. This blog series focuses on responding to Federal Government RFPs, and how to score higher in topics that are often required in the proposal response.
Higher scores are good, and you want to be assigned strengths during the proposal evaluation process. The 11 blog posts in this series provide practical advice on ways to score more points so you can win more federal government contracts.
Federal Procurement Process
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is the principal set of rules regarding Government procurement in the US. An RFP usually makes several references to the FAR, when detailing the Proposal Instructions and Evaluation Criteria. The RFP will provide all the details you need to know to respond with a compliant proposal.
But a thorough understanding of the Procurement process can be found on the Shipley website. Their interactive website shows the Customer activities at the top of the chart, along with lifecycle stage, procurement milestones, timeframe, outputs, as well as BD activities in a timeline display.
Evaluation Criteria is contained in Section M of the RFP and it details the rating system for each volume. The Small Business Subcontracting Plan, Security Plan, Transition Plan, and Past Performance volumes may be rated with Pass/Fail; Acceptable/Unacceptable; or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.
The Technical and Management volumes may use an Adjectival/Color Rating system such as Blue - Outstanding; Purple - Good; Green - Acceptable; Yellow - Marginal; and Red - Unacceptable.
The Importance of Receiving Strengths
The relative strengths, weaknesses, significant weaknesses, and risks supporting proposal evaluation will also be documented by the government evaluators. Since this blog series is focused on strategies to score higher in the evaluation process, we will focus on demonstrating strengths. Along with focusing on strengths, the Proposal Manager should focus on identifying and removing any weaknesses in their proposal.
Strength - An aspect of an offeror's proposal that has merit or exceeds specified performance or capability requirements in a way that will be advantageous to the Government during contract performance.
Weakness - A flaw in the proposal that increases the risk of unsuccessful contract performance.
The contents of a proposal are strictly guided by the Proposal Instructions to Offerors – usually Section L of the RFP. Always follow that guidance to maintain compliance with the RFP. But to receive strengths, you must go beyond basic compliance, to show the evaluators that your team is the best team for the job.
This means that instead of simply responding to a requirement, you respond with facts and data to emphasize the strengths of your proposed solution and your team. and then directly link those strengths to benefits for the customer.
Every word in the proposal is an opportunity to gain a strength in the evaluator's mind. Make the content you provide of value to the evaluator so your words and graphics can lead the evaluator to the decision that your team is best suited to execute the contract. If you read a sentence or paragraph in the proposal and it does not complete a requirement or add value, then remove it or edit the content to be valuable.
Overview of Blog Series
This blog series will provide practical advice and suggestions on how to ensure your proposal (RFP response) is compelling as well as compliant for many areas such as safety, quality, recruiting, contract organization, risk, and more.
We have created a download of example graphics that help convey the topic of each blog post. Here is an overview of the blog series with a synopsis of each blog post, a graphic that is included in the download, and page numbers where graphics are located in the download files.
The Power of the Contract Management Team: How to Win Federal Government Contracts
Dig deeper into the Management Team and show how they are an asset to the customer by going beyond a simple org chart. Detail the duties, responsibilities and why each management team member is needed for mission success.
Organizational Chart: page 2 PowerPoint
RFP Qualifications chart and Detailed Duties and Responsibilities chart: page 2 Word.
Highlight your Management Team to Transform your Contract Management Plan
Make your Management Plan work for you! Does your customer want to be able to talk with the Program Manager and expect action on an issue? Then give the PM the authority to address the technical aspects of the contract execution. Always back them up with corporate management or contractual support as you give your PM the authority to respond to the customer requests within contract scope.
Authority & Responsibility Graphic: page 3 PowerPoint.
How to Score More Proposal Points with Your Government RFP Response
Your team is a big part of why you should win the contract! You hand-selected the teammates based on their capabilities, past performance, and relationship with the customer. Now put those teammates to work for you. Consider including a customized team table in EVERY VOLUME of your proposal so that all evaluators understand the caliber of the team they are reviewing. You want to start and end each proposal volume with reasons the customer should select your team as the contract winner.
Team Graphic table and list of info needed for team graphic: pages 3, 4 Word.
How to Turn your Incumbentitis into a Proposal Winning Strategy
Turn your incumbency into winning strategies by focusing on your accomplishments on the current contract and the improvements for this follow-on bid. As the incumbent you should know your customer better than anyone else. Review monthly and yearly contract reports to select the accomplishments, cost savings, and achievements of your team. This is not the time to be modest about your success. Showcase those successes, but don't rest on those accomplishments; show the evaluators that you are a trusted partner who will continue to perform well.
Contract Goals chart: page 5 Word.
The Ultimate Guide to Creating a GovCon Safety Plan
Many customers, including NASA have a focus on safety and require a Safety Plan for all bidders. In addition to complying with the agency safety regulations, processes, and plans, demonstrate that your company’s Safety Plan can become an asset for your team. Turn requirements into strengths.
Safety Plan graphic: page 4 PowerPoint.
Use Graphics to Convey Quality Management in a Government Proposal
Quality Management includes adherence to specific policies and procedures. Show how your team includes Quality Management into their daily work to ensure your customer is always receiving quality services since your team promotes quality throughout the entire organization.
Plan Do Act Check graphic and CAR Process graphic: pages 5, 6 PowerPoint.
Does the Government Customer Care about Recruiting and Retention?
Recruiting and Retention are key elements, especially in a tight labor market. If you are in an growing competitive market place, as many GovCons are, your recruiting and retention policies can set you apart from the competition.
Recruiting and Retention graphic page 7 PowerPoint.
What is Risk Management and What do I Need to Know?
Risk Management can be confusing and difficult to understand. But understanding the basics and including identified or potential risks in your proposal is a good thing – it’s ok to say there are risks in your approach – just demonstrate how your team will mitigate those risks to an acceptable level.
Risk Matrix, Army Risk Management Matrix: page 8, 9 PowerPoint and page 6 Word.
Does Your Capability Matrix Actually Help you Build a Winning Team?
Selecting teaming partners can be difficult – because everyone knows – teammates are not always 100% honest with their capabilities. Learn how to avoid costly last-minute revelations from teaming partners by getting the information you need to make good teaming decision BEFORE that teaming agreement is signed and executed.
Capability table: page 7 Word.
How a Unique Technical Approach Can Lead the BD Team to Victory
How do you take a complex technical process and display it in terms that non-technical evaluators can understand and give it high marks? Talk to the SMEs and then outline a technical workflow together. Then you review, validate, and validate again. You will end up with a technical workflow that is easy for everyone on the team to understand. Step by step guide to creating the winning technical approach for your next bid.
Help Desk Workflow: page 10 PowerPoint.
The Simple Way to Convey Strengths in a Federal Government Proposal
Strength is NOT a dirty word in proposals! It’s okay to say your team has strengths in specific areas – just have the data to back up your claims. Bonus – it’s good to use the word strength when referring to your solution – it subconsciously says, ‘Our team is the best, we have these strengths.’
Strength table: page 8 Word.
How to Use the Graphics Download
A download accompanies these posts to help you implement these topics successfully into your proposal content. The download includes a PowerPoint file and a Word file, which contain editable graphics that you are free to use in your proposals. Graphics are a great way to convey ideas to evaluators, and will also help you deliver a lot of data in a format that is easy to review and understand.
If you want, change the colors of the graphics to align with your company or team branding, ensure the font type and size are compliant with your RFP requirements, and update the content in accordance with your RFP. You will then be ready to make png or jpg files of the PowerPoint graphics and insert into your proposal documents.
Word tables can be copied and pasted directly into your proposal documents. The files also provide some helpful tips for using the graphics, such as how to introduce the graphic to ensure you demonstrate the relevance of the graphic to the requirement. Many of the graphics will include words in all caps that are intended to be replaced with the appropriate term. Some of these terms include:
- COMPANY NAME
- CUSTOMER NAME
- CONTRACT ACRONYM
- PROGRAM MANAGER NAME
Also, many graphics include XXX, which are placeholders for you to name items, such as the XXX Safety Program or the name of software tool. A few graphics show you more than one variation, just to illustrate the difference between simple flat graphics and shaded, beveled shapes that create three-dimensionality. Both types can be very effective in conveying information, just chose which style you prefer, and make sure all graphics in your proposal follow the same style for consistency. All shapes can easily be changed using the shape formatting options in PowerPoint – shadow, bevel, shape outline, and shape fill.
OneTeam is a complete, secure, cloud-native collaboration platform for GovCons to track, qualify, capture, propose and win more contracts with fewer resources. Our experienced team writes extensively about business development topics and best practices.