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Responding to Government RFPs

Responding to government RFPs can be a huge task, depending upon the complexity of the work. Commodity proposals can be relatively easy. Service proposals, on the other hand, can require the efforts of multiple members of your staff. What’s the way to tackle a RFP response? What’s involved in the process?

Strategies for responding to government RFPs

Government contracting has its plusses and minuses. On the one hand, the government is highly likely to pay its bills. On the other hand, public procurement comes with a lot of oversight and administration throughout the contract life. If you want to tackle a government RFP, here are a few strategies to consider.

Put together a proposal team

Responding to an RFP can be a lot of work, especially if you have other responsibilities to meet. Taking a team approach to proposal management allows you to distribute the work to multiple people. Asking several people to put in a little more effort will likely produce better results than shopping the task off on one person. This approach may require more time up front, but once everyone knows their part, the proposal can come together quickly.

Identify the team leader

Having a proposal team doesn’t mean that no one is in charge of the project. Identify the team lead and provide them with the best possible support. The team lead will make decisions, manage the project pieces and coordinate the final product.

Establish a proposal calendar

Every proposal has a deadline, but too often, responders wait until the last minute to put a response together. The just-in-time approach shows up clearly in the final product. Establishing a proposal calendar gives the team clear internal deadlines for their portion of the proposal. It allows you to build in time for reviews and tweaks, and it diminishes the stress of the deadline. Aside from the writing, the proposal calendar should also include a financial analysis, editing and reviewing time, approval time (if necessary) and production time. If the issuer will accept electronic responses, you may not need to produce anything other than the response documents. If the issuer wants paper, you’ll need to leave time for printing, binding and mailing.

Stick to the proposal plan

The team lead needs to enforce the intermediate deadlines established on the proposal calendar. As long as the proposal calendar is realistic, this shouldn’t be a problem. If the proposal calendar is filled with unrealistic deadlines, the proposal process can quickly fly off the rails. Getting commitments from the proposal team is one way to ensure that the project goes according to plan.

Consider getting proposal help

If you are working on a short deadline, or your team doesn’t have the cycles to spare, consider bringing on freelance help to get the proposal off the ground. Freelance assistants can usually devote their full attention to a project and keep it moving in the right direction.

For more information about hiring a freelance proposal writer, please contact me at eileen@juliesocean.com, or call me at (734) 961-0408.

Photo Credit: Government of Alberta, via Flickr