If you are a government contractor, the economic stimulus legislation means business. Most of the jobs that the stimulus creates will actually be in the form of positions awarded to contractors. We’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars worth.
But there is a problem. They want to make awards within six months of passage. When you subtract the time to issue the RFP, evaluate submissions, and make the award, you will be lucky if you get 30 days to respond. And they are all going to hit at close to the same time. Do you see the problem yet?
How on earth will your staff possibly keep up?
There are a few things you can do to prepare, but you must act immediately.
- Embrace opportunistic bidding. “But wait,” you should be asking, “doesn’t this go against all of the best practices?” Yes, it does. However, these opportunities will barely exist before the RFP release and the customer will be getting lots of bids from strangers and have to award to someone. How do you embrace opportunistic bidding? In the CapturePlanning.com MustWin Process, we identify the information you are supposed to collect before RFP release. If you wait until RFP release to start, the steps remain the same but the time is compressed. You have the same goals and need for information. It’s just that the information is harder to collect. To pursue an opportunistic bid, you answer the questions that you can and skip those that you can’t. While your proposal would obviously be stronger if you had more time to answer all of them, you can still form win strategies and themes from the information you have. And if you do work the process to convert what you know into competitive advantage as best you can, you will outcompete those who are struggling to respond to the RFP without a process to guide them.
- Implement a streamlined process. If you don’t have an assembly line already set up when the tsunami hits, you won’t be able to respond with maximum efficiency. Your proposal process is your assembly line. And it better be lean and mean. Eliminate inefficiency now. Focus on making decisions instantaneously or even in advance (based on criteria). If you don’t have your process in place, we have an off-the-shelf process that you can start implementing immediately. It’s fully documented and comes with the forms, checklists, templates, and guidance you need to be able to respond quickly and efficiently.
- Polish your forms, checklists, and templates. Eliminate unnecessary fields and approvals. Make them idiot-proof so that anyone can complete them without help. If your forms, checklists, and other process documents can’t be completed by someone without training, then you can’t delegate and you become the bottleneck. If you don’t have all the forms and checklists you should, then download ours instead of starting from scratch.
- Identify and train reserve staff. You’re going to need help for a few weeks. Who can you call on? It doesn’t have to be part of their normal job. They don’t have to come with the skills or experience to do everything --- it’s okay if they can only help out in certain areas. But you need to know their availability and have them trained before the surge hits. If they can’t work independently when you’re swamped, then they’re not going to be much help. Our process documentation can also be used for training and providing guidance to your reserve staff.
- Be prepared to outsource. Even if you don’t normally use outside consultants on your proposals, you should be prepared to do so now. You should identify who you want, know their availability, pre-negotiate the rates, and put in place any paperwork to get them into your purchasing system. If you need a badge for them to enter your facility try to pre-arrange it, and get your IT department to set up accounts in advance so that they can be turned on immediately upon request. If you’re smart, you’ll negotiate a commitment with your consultants so that you don’t discover they’ve taken another assignment when you need them. If you can’t get the approval for a commitment, then at least get everything else in place so that when the approval comes, the consultant can start immediately. If you aren’t sure where to go to find qualified consultants, try our free Service Provider Directory.
- Implement proposal software. A proposal software package like Privia can help automate proposal start-up, help you tap into remote resources, and streamline review workflows. But it only makes sense if you can do it immediately. You don’t want to be struggling to learn a new system during a proposal surge.
Good luck, and don’t panic. Let us know if you have any questions.