A Request for Information (RFI) or a Sources Sought (SS) is a great opportunity to showcase your capabilities to a new customer.
Here are five guidelines to make your responses more effective.
- Read the government’s RFI or SS carefully. What products or services are being asking for? Make sure to match your response to the stated needs.
- Be succinct! The customer isn’t looking for an engineering document or a detailed proposal. In the case of an RFI, they are usually looking for feedback from industry about requirements, acquisition approach and, if included, evaluation criteria.
- Your RFI response should be readable with a minimum of technical jargon. The use of tables and simple graphics is encouraged. But, avoid submitting an advertising piece unless it is directly relatable to the RFI or SS requirements.
- An SS is used by agency buyers for market research, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create an advantage for your company by replying with your capabilities and acquisition strategy suggestions for how the government can best procure the product/service in a way that favors your selection. If a yours is a large business, explain why the complexity of the project warrants a full and open procurement. For a small business, provide a rationale for the agency setting the contract aside to a specific socio-economic business. But remember, your arguments need to be sound and not just self-serving! If relevant to your situation, suggest the government procure the service or product directly through one of your contract vehicles.
- How many RFIs/Sources Sought you should respond to varies according to company size and service area. However, it is best to focus your resources on strategic target agencies and core competencies as opposed to responding to everything that crosses your desk.
Even if you don’t end up submitting a proposal for the resulting project, the quality of your response matters. It illustrates the kind of work the government can expect from your company in the future.
– Mike Lisagor