The only purpose of proposals is winning new business.
Winning is the result of earning the greatest number of points in evaluation in conjunction with the cost. Remember; there are no good proposals or bad proposals, only winning proposals and losing proposals. Earning the maximum number of points is the goal of the Technical Proposal, and this article addresses the means by which you maximize point totals.
Proposals are evaluated by people whose job it is to assign a number of points (or color or adjectival score) to each section of the proposal. This process is referred to as a weighted or scored technical evaluation. The evaluators assign points based on how well the proposal addresses the evaluation factors set forth in the RFP.
Each chapter of the Proposal (e.g. Personnel, Technical Approach, Sample Tasks, etc.) is assigned a percentage of the final technical score. Thus, the evaluation factors listed in Section M may assign the following percentages towards the final technical score:
- Technical Approach – 20%
- Sample Tasks – 20%
- Corporate Experience – 15%
- Management Approach – 20%
- Personnel – 25%
Let’s say that there is a maximum score of 100 points for each of the factors. Let’s also create two fictional offerors and assign point totals for each of them.
Who wins the most total points based on the weighting of each Chapter?
Offeror B wins although Offeror A had more total points. Section M of the RFP will indicate the weighting of the chapters. If you have limited resources and must prioritize efforts, use the percentages to rank the importance of the proposal chapters.
One of the crucial functions of pre-proposal intelligence is determining the identities of the evaluators and determining whether there are common negative experiences with your competitors among them. These negative experiences indicate what the evaluators are looking for when awarding points. One particularly effective way of increasing your relative point total is to highlight how Your Company avoids these negative experiences. This also helps weaken competitors who have given the evaluators negative experiences. This is known as ghosting the competition.
Organizing the Proposal for Maximum Score
When planning the proposal, consider the evaluators. The evaluators have to examine all the technical proposals submitted—each and every single one. We stress this fact because everything you do to ease proposal evaluation will increase your points.
How do you make a proposal easier to evaluate? By using the RFP to determine the structure and the language of your proposal and including a Compliance Matrix. Proposal evaluators want to fairly evaluate every proposal submitted. To do so requires their adhering to the standards stated in the RFP. The evaluators are using the RFP to assign points to your proposal. Points are assigned based on how well Your Company has addressed the evaluation factors listed in Section M. The evaluation factors generally refer to the Statement of Work, Sample Tasks, Position Descriptions, and other instructions found throughout the RFP.
Put yourself in the evaluator’s place. Are you going to award more points to a proposal that presents the information as the RFP presents it, organized so the evaluator can make direct correlations between the evaluation factors and the proposal? Or will you favor a proposal that forces you to spend time and effort to award points? The less RFP-based/organized proposal requires more time to read and more time to judge, and therefore will appear to be less responsive to the requirements of the evaluators.
The Compliance Matrix and the RFP
The evaluators have a difficult task because the RFP may not be easily understood. How, then, does your company make the RFP easier to understand? One of the answers is the Compliance Matrix. The Compliance Matrix is the point award map for both your company and the evaluators. The Compliance Matrix is used by evaluators to relate an evaluation factor with one or more chapters of the proposal. Proposal writers, coordinators, editors and managers use the Compliance Matrix to ensure that your company has the best chance at amassing the best point total. Here is example of a part of a large Proposal Compliance Matrix for a technical services contract:
Posting the Proposal
Technical Proposals generally have four chapters: Technical Approach, Personnel, Corporate Experience and Management. Each chapter of the proposal must correspond to the other chapters. One method your company can use to guarantee that the chapters correspond is posting (with tape or with thumb tacks) the proposal on a wall in a secure room. By posting the proposal, the your company reviewers are able to see whether the chapters indeed correspond.
The proposal chapters are posted with this information:
- Evaluation criteria
- Compliance matrix
Each section heading will have a reference to the Compliance Matrix. The graphic below shows the general layout of a posted proposal storybaord chapter.