Like an Olympic athlete who must train, practice, and then qualify to compete, succeeding in the federal market also requires long-term preparation and planning.
Although often overlooked, Graphic Design is incredibly integral to government work. Federal government design specifically relies on past and modern-day successes of good design practices in America.
As part of the federal contracting process, procuring agencies are interested in an offeror’s quality of product/service, cost control, timeliness of performance, business relations, and customer satisfaction, as evidenced by its past performance.
Professional certifications can help increase salary and expand professional possibilities. Certifications are an excellent avenue for a proposal professional’s career development.
Government agencies want to work with companies they know and trust. Building that trust is largely contingent on your ability to prove you can do the work.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a competitive bid must be in want of a great proposal team." - Jane Austen
Have you ever asked yourself if an evaluator gets bored reading your proposal? To break up the sea of text, you use proposal graphics. But are your graphics also boring?
If you’ll indulge in a music analogy, Federal Government Contracting in the United States is a long and winding road, while State, Local, and Education (SLED) contracting is a smaller ticket to ride. But hey, you still might want to drive that car!
In proposals, clear writing is critical to ensuring the evaluators understand your message.
Federal proposals often require contractors to include resumes of their proposed team.
While it may not be immediately obvious, there is no doubt that the design of your government proposal can significantly impact how your response is received and has the potential to help you stand out from the competition.
Everyone knows that color team review phases are essential to the development of winning proposals.
Desktop Publishing (DTP) is required before every proposal is submitted to ensure the proposal is presented in a visually pleasing manner, the information is presented in an easy-to-understand format, and the proposal complies with the solicitation requirements.
In this article, we will cover five things that instantly lead to a higher-scoring proposal during the evaluation process.
Contracting Officers (CO) are authorized agents empowered to bind the federal government to a contract for procuring goods or services.
If you have participated in a proposal effort or two, odds are you know the basics of proposal writing.
To write a winning proposal, a proposal development team must present a solution that addresses the customer’s technical needs in a compelling, easy-to-understand narrative.
In the competitive world of bids and proposals, it is critical for proposals to not only be compliant but also responsive.
Individual accomplishments and experience have a chance to shine in today's competitive bid environment.
As an opportunity moves through the phasesof the opportunity lifecycle, it is supported by different roles or individuals.
Targeting and building your business development pipeline can feel daunting because of the endless pool of prospects.
A Red Team Review is part of a series of color reviews that occur during the proposal development process.
Agile software development is a set of approaches to software development where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between cross-functional teams and stakeholders.
The Proposal Management Plan is the operations plan for the Proposal Manager and the proposal team to answer the RFP.
The Past Performance section in a proposal provides evidence of your previous success to your customer by exhibiting your proven ability to deliver a quality product or service in a timely and cost-controlled manner.
According to Bloomberg Government, Federal contract spending in fiscal year 2020 hit the highest amount on record—$681 billion.
In the world of bids and proposals, we have a unique lexicon that we apply so that we are all speaking the same language.
When it comes to developing a successful proposal response, having a Proposal Plan in place is essential.
If I were to give advice to a writer working on a proposal, I would say: plan before you write, write to your plan, and think big picture from the start.
Think of the last time you saw something and immediately realized you were going to enjoy it.
In July 2018, we published an article on how to turn unsubstantiated proposal claims into credible proofs. In this article, I take a deeper dive into developing compelling proofs, with examples and techniques to build solid proofs for a higher win rate.
I recently came out of a project where we supported the client in submitting 25 task order proposal responses between two months.
Subject matter experts (SMEs) are necessary to almost every proposal. They are the ones who design and build the product (or provide the service).
In the proposal industry, we strive to set up an infrastructure that will improve our chances of winning. Production is an important part of developing a winning proposal.
The U.S. federal government is the world’s largest buyer. Every year, it spends billions of dollars on products and services covering thousands of categories ranging from fighter jets and garden supplies to IT services and logistics support.
Collaborative software tools represent a major improvement in developing compliant, compelling, and complete proposals. However, these tools are not without their drawbacks.
Within the world of US Federal Government Contracting, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the acronyms. One acronym you might have been wondering about lately is MATOC.
Creating and maintaining a content repository or library of reuse material is a proposal industry best practice, but why is it important? Why should your company or team invest in the development and maintenance of a content repository?
As I discovered after graduating college and having to pay for my own Microsoft Office (MSO) subscription, software can be expensive! This is especially true for commonly used project management and office programs.
Being on the winning side of an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract opens up the opportunity to earn millions and even billions of dollars through the work generated by subsequent task orders.
According to a 2017 US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, spending by federal agencies on indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts accounts for about a third of total government contract obligations.
An effective proposal team knows that the art of developing a winning bid can be exhausting due to the unpredictable nature of each procurement.
When it comes to decision gate reviews, many organizations conduct them differently.
Starting a new job is an exciting endeavor, and like many recent college grads, I felt privileged to land a job—as a junior proposal writer at a great organization.
If you pursue opportunities in the federal market, I’m sure several Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) are on your radar and you perhaps have access to them via partnerships.
“What do you mean they haven’t developed a solution?!”
Writing is such a critical component of the proposal process.
As proposal professionals, we are very process and procedure-oriented.
If you want to improve your overall win rates, there are several tactics that can help you succeed.
Imagine you are at the post-award debrief. Win or lose, you must search for the good, the bad, and the ugly about your proposal.
Graphics are what distinguish an effective proposal. Research shows that readers recall seven times more information when presented with a graphic than through text alone.
Over the years our proposal team has helped many small businesses significantly increase their revenue through sound Proposal Management.
Learning how to make smart bid/no-bid decisions is one of the most crucial skills individuals and government contractors can develop to improve their overall success.
Too often, businesses jump into pursuing contract opportunities without doing the necessary work on the front end.
Data calls typically occur early in the proposal effort, but can ostensibly happen at any point during the proposal planning or writing processes.
As proposal professionals, we continually look to find ways to lead our teams and ensure we are getting the best results possible.
One of the most crucial phases in the federal business development lifecycle is Capture.
A common problem with proposal teams is that it is so easy for authors to avoid communicating—particularly when one or more author is working virtually.
The Cost or Price Proposal is exactly what it sounds like: a detailed account of the costs of your Technical and Management Approaches for a potential government contract.
Your government contract ends soon, and your customer will issue a new RFP. Who's worried?
Storyboards have long been a part of our standard proposal best practices.
There is a common misconception that developing a compliant proposal is relatively easy — you just follow the instructions in Section L of the Request for Proposal (RFP), the way Dorothy and Toto in The Wizard of Oz followed the yellow brick road.
So, you’re about to start proposal writing for the first time. Maybe you’re transitioning careers, or maybe you’re a recent college graduate, stepping into government contracting culture for the very first time.
Sure, companies lose contracts because of faulty pricing, unqualified key personnel, lack of customer insight, a flawed strategy or approach, or some other technicality or non-compliance. But too often, these maladies are only symptoms, not the root causes for a loss.
Did you know that Microsoft has a staggering 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users worldwide? These users include millions of professionals who rely on Microsoft Office software every day and use only a fraction of its capability.
We know that Evaluators evaluate and score submitted proposals. Therefore, as bidders looking to win work, we should aim to make the evaluators’ jobs as painless as possible.
Each year at this time, we stop and take a breath. Clear our heads. Gain some perspective. And reconnoiter the GovCon horizon.
You have just been tasked with writing the executive summary for a must-win proposal.
We all have jams that amp us up. You know, the songs that get us up and moving no matter how tired we are. With all of the ups and downs that Proposal Professionals face on a daily basis, we decided to create a playlist to keep you motivated and smiling!
This article is the fifth installment of our Proposal Plan series that discusses Proposal Writing.
This is the fourth article in our Proposal Plan series that discusses the proposal logistics.
An unsubstantiated claim in a proposal is a statement about any of your company’s capabilities, past experience and performance, product and service features/benefits, and discriminators that are not supported with a proof statement.
In government proposals, experienced Proposal Managers develop a Proposal Plan to guide them through the proposal effort.
All of us have been there. If not, your day will eventually come. The Red Team Review members have done their pigeon-like thing. Now, your proposal writers are swimming in the after wash. How do you learn from it, keep moving, and improve your proposal?
In September 2016, I set off to explore unanswered questions regarding Category Management in our Category Management article series. Initial questions were:
Spring never fails to remind me of the Easter Bunny and eggs!
The Consolidated Appropriations Act (“The Act”), signed into law in March of 2018, provides $500 billion in new federal spending for defense and domestic programs over two years.
People often confuse proposal win themes and section themes. Win themes are those high-level features and benefits that transcend the entire proposal.
We have all heard about the importance of maintaining a healthy business development pipeline—an organized, visual way of tracking multiple potential buyers (federal agencies) and developing (or stalled) opportunities through different stages in the government contracting procurement process.
The holidays are fast approaching and Christmas is almost here!
In federal contracting, multi-company teaming arrangements are the rule rather than the exception.
So your company is hunting "big game" in the government contracting world? Well you are not alone.
The Federal Government, both defense and civilian, operate their procurement and acquisition needs off of hundreds of contract vehicles a day.
The progressive, sequenced structure of color-coded proposal reviews works. That is, it works on major proposals where you have lead time of 30 days or more, especially if there is a draft RFP that can help you jump start the process, and you have access to the client’s resources and Subject Matter Experts.
We often hear negative representations of Government contractors, and these stories seem to garner a lot of media attention. But what about the positive impact these companies have on our larger community? Now more than ever, for professionals in the government market it's important to know that each day you come to work you are privileged to have the opportunity to do something great, difficult, unlikely, or nearly impossible to achieve.
We've all heard the phrase there is no such thing as a dumb question. The fact is, even a seemingly obvious question can elicit a helpful and sometimes surprising response by the Government.
As someone who’s rewritten hundreds of resumes for federal proposals, you start to notice patterns in the way people construct their resumes that often make it difficult for evaluators to assess the quality of the candidates.
On May 23, 2017, the White House Administration released to the public part two of its FY18 budget named “A New Foundation for American Greatness.”
This document works in tandem with the FY18 “skinny budget” called “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” released in March 2017.
On March 13, 2017, the Trump Administration released his “skinny budget”, his administrations’ first federal budget blueprint revealing the President's plan to dramatically reduce the size of the Government.
A benefit of being proposal consultants is the variety of our experience on a range of government proposal types, teams, and companies. It makes us useful and valuable, but it can also work against us.
In this post, the final of my Category Management Series, I am going to make a few suggestions for Business Development and Strategy Professionals to add to their Bid and Proposal “New Year’s Resolution” list. These resolutions are primarily based on the key trend of contract consolidation through Category Management.
Happy Fiscal New Year! With the start of the new fiscal year comes promises of a clean slate, and a fresh fiscal start (or at least funding until December 9). It is also an opportunity to reframe your everyday business development tasks and reinforce your tactics to stay competitive.
Now that we have the WHAT down for Category Management (read Part 1 here)– it is time to move on to WHY. But first, a brief history lesson:
Lately I have come across a myriad of blog posts, articles, conferences and stories detailing a mysterious and ominous Federal Government Category Management initiative. I decided to do more research on the subject. I noticed two things immediately:
According to many contracting officers, there is no such thing as over communicating when it comes to bidding on a contract. The most successful government contractors will ask the contracting officer intelligent and thoughtful questions to gain the most information possible about the Request for Proposal (RFP).
This strategy will help you create a well scored proposal.
Remember 5th grade English Class? Learning to write essays meant being handed a topic you didn't like, trying to abide by a difficult deadline, feeling forced to write and revise multiple versions, and finally receiving useless comments from the teacher you are convinced hates you.
Since it's St. Patrick’s Day, I got to thinking about some of the Irish legends, and the first one that came to mind was the legend of the Blarney Stone.
The most vulnerable point in the business development continuum is the handoff from capture manager to proposal management. This transfer to the proposal team seems to fail often. But why is that?
We see this time after time- the capture team creates a strong, defensible win strategy that by all measures should give the company an excellent chance of prevailing over the competition, but it never gets fully implemented by the proposal team management despite best intentions by all parties.
If you are an incumbent contractor, doing a respectable job, but have a nagging fear of customer “incumbent-itis” as the contract recompete date draws closer and closer, here’s a strategy and best practice that can help solidify your chances for winning:
People in our industry are wondering to what extent today’s government contracting market conditions represent a “new normal.” And, if not, they wonder how soon can we expect a return to the “good old days?”
The government's use of oral presentations as part of the proposal process rises and falls like waves in the ocean depending on the prevailing philosophy at the moment.
We are often asked, sometimes too late, if the incumbent program manager should be assigned as the Capture and/or Proposal Manager for the recompete.
Like it or not, as a Proposal Manager your attitude is infectious. For better or worse, you set the tone that others see and internalize.
In Government Proposals, experienced Proposal Managers develop a Proposal Plan to guide them through the proposal effort. This is the sixth in a series of articles that discusses part six of the planning process, Color Team Reviews.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard of The Hunger Games, the dystopian trilogy by Suzanne Collins that has edged out Harry Potter’s seven books as Amazon’s best-selling series of all time. The movies set records, and fans worldwide are hysterical in their enthusiasm.
In Government Proposals, experienced Proposal Managers develop a Proposal Plan to guide them through the proposal effort.
You've been assigned to manage a major proposal. Before springing into frenetic action, withdraw to your quiet place. Ground yourself. Anticipate. Plan. Preview in your mind the production about to unfold. Have a vision for how you will lead your team to win.
Your RFP (Request for Proposal) has just been released, and whether you are a single company, teamed with another company, or have multiple teaming partners, you will be required to submit various types of information as part of your proposal.
Capture is as much an art as science.
The best Capture Managers are not made in a classroom. The best capture techniques are learned from a mentor in the heat of battle.
Capture Management is too important to be delegated to the last individual standing when all of the direct charge numbers are handed out elsewhere. Inexperienced Capture Managers need tips, tools, methods, processes and insights on how to conduct effective capture.
Successful proposals respond to the needs presented in the RFP. However, successful proposals also respond to “invisible” issues that influence decision-makers: their “wants.”
You’ve heard it before but that doesn’t stop me from saying it again: proposals are tough business. Don't get discouraged! Before you reach your breaking point, here are 15 actions to heighten your enjoyment when working on a long, complex, and demanding project or proposal.
Since we proposal professionals don’t have enough pressure on us during a proposal effort, I thought I’d share these handy tips to spice up your life during those all-night deadline parties!
No doubt about it, proposals are hard! Tight deadlines, incomprehensible and inconsistent RFP requirements, lack of sleep, high carb diets and the need to demonstrate to the government that not only are you qualified for the award, but you are the best choice, hands down. Many of these factors are outside of our control. Unfortunately, in many cases companies hamper themselves further by selecting a proposal team that is dysfunctional.
In•cum•bent [in-'kəm-bənt] Noun. The current holder of a contract. Ex: The incumbent was preparing for a recompete of work it had successfully performed for years.
A sad, but true, fact of the proposal business is that proposals are not always edited to ensure that they are grammatically correct, internally consistent, conform to the pre-established proposal Style Guide, and read as though the entire proposal was written by the same person (commonly referred to as “one voice”).