Let’s talk compliance. Compliance, as you know, starts with a proper proposal outline. Proposal managers need to decide which sections of the statement of work to discuss in the outline, and which sections to exclude. It is the outliner’s job to really understand the big picture, and ensure it is structured and annotated in the way that the writers understand the context of their sections. The outliners have to figure out how to tell a great story within the constraints of being compliant.
Some proposal managers proclaim to be “all about compliance.” People who claim that scare me because they tend to be overly bureaucratic and literal in deciding what compliance is. The truth is, you don’t really have to respond to every tiny requirement in the statement of work that’s not the actual scope of work or tasks. All the requirements that have to do with contract administration and execution, that are not the heart of the actual work, most likely have no place in your proposal.
Many proposal managers still subscribe to the 1980s school of outlining. Back then you had to include every section of the statement of work in the outline. The RFPs have changed a lot; the page counts have been reduced since then, and evaluators don’t really look for you to address every minute detail. They look for you to answer what the instructions state, and make the proposal easy to evaluate. When I speak to evaluators, they often wonder what the bureaucratic stuff has to do with the technical approach, and why people compulsively include it in the proposals.
For example, companies often include sections stating that they will obtain Common Access Cards, or get personnel background checks from the Government, or comply with notifying the government 30 days ahead of all travel. You can simply use a catch-all sentence that addresses these requirements, stating that you take no exception to the RFP and you will comply with all the requirements. This also goes for deliverables. It is better to work them into the narrative and/or schedule of milestones rather than have a separate section that adds no value and no information, merely restating that you will furnish these deliverables.
RFP documents become a contract once it is signed – this is why the Government has to include those sections. They are not there, however, for people to include in their outline and proposal response, but merely to say that they will comply. Including them detracts from the message, takes up valuable space, and makes your proposal dry and boring. Keep in mind for your next proposal that evaluators will have to read at least a half dozen of these boring proposals. Ensure that yours is easy to evaluate and read, and therefore memorable and standing out from the crowd.
OST Global Solutions, Inc.
…Because There is No Second Place in Proposals! TM