Step 1: Understand the project requirements

One key directive for all PMs is “Manage to your contract.” This implies having a thorough knowledge and understanding of the contract type.

It is also important to recognize that the contract type we proposed or that is required by the RFP may not be the same contract type we negotiated with our subcontractors. There are several factors that impact this decision including the type of subcontractor service or product and subcontractor performance risk.

Understanding the requirements is one of the best risk mitigation strategies a PM can employ. If you were not involved inthe proposal process, obtain a copy of the technical and pricing proposal. Your local proposal staff can assist you in obtaining necessary Privia access. Following contract award, proposal documents are maintained as part of the contract file. Your local contracts administrator can assist you with obtaining needed proposal documents.

Here’s a checklist of many of the typical RFP requirements:

Key RFP Requirements Checklist (PDF)

Key RFP Requirements Checklist (Word document)

Compare the commitments and assumptions we made in the proposal with your understanding of the RFP/SOW requirements. Make a list of any ambiguities and anything you aren’t sure you can complete. Obtain clarification of these items from the Contracts Administrator. Remember, that a failure to manage to the contract requirements usually results in significant problems including contractor failure to deliver and requirements scope creep.

It is very important for the PM to understand full pricing approach behind the pricing proposal sent to the government customer. These detailed pricing files are maintained in the corporate pricing database. Your responsible contracts administrator can assist you in obtaining the necessary pricing files that detail cost and profit factors used in developing the price proposal. Identify any gaps between what was proposed and your plan. It is not unusual, especially on larger procurements, for there to be a long time between proposal submittal and contract award. Your company salary guidelines and overhead costs may have changed and circumstances such as product releases and resource availability may impact your ability to deliver to the proposed schedule. All of these factors will need to be taken into consideration and, where necessary, coordinated with the Contracts Administrator upon contract award.

There are several critical IT support elements that need to be coordinated with your company IT department. These include determining whether your project will be using Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) at the client site or will require your company servers at a company location. Your project’s network access, remote access and system administrator support will also need to be identified. In addition, you should make sure to understand which of your IT equipment will be considered General Support Equipment versus Project Specific Equipment as this will impact your budget and how these items are charged.

There may be facilities requirements that need to be coordinated with the company facilities department to ensure you and your staff have the necessary facility support on day one. Early interaction with your Group Security Team is critical to the successful implementation of any security requirements, such as clearances, facilities, IT systems, etc., identified in your contracts. The understanding of the security requirements could have an impact on your technical approach and the successful implementation of them will have a positive impact on your programs success.

The first step in the PM Planning process for procurements with sufficient lead time between proposal submittal and contract award is to hold a meeting with the proposal manager and the capture manager to confirm your understanding of the key elements of the project. This meeting will provide much of the background information necessary to begin development of the PM Plan.

The following checklist describes the key elements of a proposal hand-off meeting:

  • Contract type
  • Contract duration
  • Technical approach
  • Deliverables
  • Key milestones
  • Key personnel
  • Cost proposal
  • Project risks
  • Contract set-up sheet
  • Client stakeholders
  • Client issues and hot buttons
  • Security requirements

The Project Manager will create a Document Management Matrix (DMM). The DMM provides key details relating to the control and management of project documents, records, and written work products, such as the current version of the document, storage location, monitoring method, back up method and frequency, access rights, and retention period. The initial records to be included in the DMM are specified below:

  • SOW
  • Questions and/or clarifications submitted during the proposal phase, and responses received
  • Your company’s technical proposal (both written and oral materials)
  • Cost proposal assumptions (Revenue and Profit details) and associated projected level-of-effort estimates
  • A copy of the Risk Log prepared during the proposal process

Other contract or project records are collected and added as work on the project progresses. Pay attention to all of the “shall” statements (what your company shall do) and “will” statements (what the government will do) in the request for proposal (RFP). These requirements are usually documented in the proposal traceability compliance matrix. Look to see if there are any ancillary requirements such as special equipment, security clearances, technology specialists, certifications or unique training. Also, make sure you understand how and when you will be reporting to the customer.

– M. Lisagor


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