Readiness Assessment for GSA proposals -7 tips on how to prepare it

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Do you need advice on how to prepare a Readiness Assessment as part of a GSA proposal? This presentation provides 7 tips on how to launch and complete this effort efficiently.

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Readiness Assessment for GSA proposals -7 tips on how to prepare it

  1. 1. Prepare a Readiness Assessment for a GSA Proposal »7 tips to get you started. Presented by: Dave Alexander 978-369-1140 ~ da@LincolnStrategies.com www.LincolnStrategies.com
  2. 2. Topics  What is a “Readiness Assessment?”  Who prepares it?  7 tips to get you started. 1
  3. 3. What is it? A document that you need to fill out and submit as part of a proposal to GSA. Are you pursuing a GSA Schedule contract? Per GSA’s rules, you will have to prepare and submit a “Readiness Assessment”—a 7 page document that presents your answers to 33 questions regarding GSA contracts. Its stated purpose: to help you decide “if you are ready to become a (GSA) contractor.” 2
  4. 4. Who prepares it?  Must be prepared and signed by a corporate officer.  Cannot be delegated to a consultant. 3
  5. 5. How to get a blank copy. Download it from GSA’s website: https://vsc.gsa.gov/RA/ReadinessAssessment.pdf 4
  6. 6. Difficult to prepare? Moderately difficult, unless you are familiar with GSA Schedule contracts. • Can be difficult to efficiently sequence and coordinate the preparation of the Readiness Assessment with other parts of a GSA proposal. • Many of the questions in the Readiness Assessment use jargon. • While most of the questions in the Readiness Assessment are easy to answer, 6 of them require you to retrieve, sort, and/or analyze quantitative data. This presentation provides tips on how to address these challenges. 5
  7. 7. Tip #1: Assign the right corporate officer.  The Assessment has to be prepared and signed by a corporate officer.  Recruit an officer who has available time and an open mind about whether your firm should pursue a GSA Schedule contract. Designating an officer who is too busy—or who is indifferent to the issue of whether your firm should obtain a GSA contract— will substantially slow down the proposal effort. 6
  8. 8. Tip #2: Get a digital certificate—quickly. 7 The officer who prepares the Readiness Assessment will need to sign it electronically, using a digital certificate. If that officer happens to already have a DOD ECA certificate on his or her computer, or can get one quickly, that’s great. This type of certificate can be used to sign the Readiness Assessment. Otherwise, the corporate officer will have to obtain an “ACES Business Representative Business Certificate” and install it on his or her computer. This can usually be accomplished within two weeks. But complications can arise, for example if the officer is not U.S.- based. The proposal preparation process can be harried, and it can be hard to keep to planned schedules. Get the digital certificate out of the way as soon as possible, and give yourself as much time as possible to recover from any problems with this process. Why risk delaying the submission of your GSA proposal for the want of a digital certificate?
  9. 9. Tip #3: Communicate, align. 8 The Readiness Assessment has to align well with the rest of the proposal. Do not submit a proposal that contains either of the following disconnects:  The Readiness Assessment contains information about “Special Item Numbers” (SINs) that are not included in the proposal.  The proposal contains SINs that are not addressed the Readiness Assessment. It is unlikely that a GSA reviewer would reject a proposal for either of the above two problems alone. But such problems can affect the reviewer’s overall impressions of your firm, and he or she might decide against you in making judgment calls about other aspects of your proposal. The take-away: In setting up your proposal preparation process, devise concrete plans for ensuring that the officer who prepares the Readiness Assessment will communicate closely with the proposal team, especially regarding your choices of Special Item Numbers (SINs) that you include (which often can change during the course of preparing the proposal). Readiness Assessment Other parts of GSA proposal. How well do they resonate?
  10. 10. Tip #4: Use a spreadsheet to answer quantitative questions. 9 The Readiness Assessment includes 6 quantitative questions. For 5 of the quantitative questions (numbers 4 through 8), you will need to download data from GSA’s “Schedule Sales Query” database. This online system contains a dozen pre-defined data retrieval routines. Good news: for Questions 4 through 8 of the Readiness Assessment, you will need to use only one of these data retrieval routines, called “SSQ Report #11.” You can learn how to use this SSQ Report and begin downloading data in 5 minutes. For each SIN to be included in your GSA proposal, your goal will be to retrieve two versions of Report #11. One Report #11 should be for the most recently completed federal fiscal year; and the second Report #11 should be for the fiscal year before that. These data retrievals will contain all of the information you need to answer Readiness Assessment questions 4 through 8. Download the data into Excel®, and use that program’s built-in tools for performing the required analyses. Only relatively simple functions are needed (e.g., sum columns; calculate averages.) The next tip addresses the 6th quantitative question. Retrieve data from a GSA database called “Schedule Sales Query”: http://ssq.gsa.gov
  11. 11. Tip #5: Use GSA eLibrary to answer the 6th quantitative question. 10 Use “GSA eLibrary” to answer the 6th quantitative question. Question #10 of the Readiness Assessment asks: “Is your pricing for your products and services competitive with the top 3 contracts?” You simply have to check a “yes” or “no” box. But to decide which box to check, you’ll need to examine prices in the GSA contracts held by these other firms. You already will know the identities of the “top 3” contractors by having answered Question #6 of the Readiness Assessment. To answer Question #10, you will now have to examine the GSA prices of these contractors. To do so: 1. Go to GSA eLibrary (see graphic to the left for the URL). Download the publicly available catalogs associated with each of the “top 3” contractors. 2. Examine the pricing shown in these catalogs. Some catalogs do not display pricing. See if you can find this information on GSA Advantage instead. (If it is not there either, simply state so in your answer in the Readiness Assessment.) 3. Check the “yes” or “no” box for Question #10, as appropriate. What prices are approved for existing GSA contractors in the Special Item Number(s) of interest to your firm? You usually can retrieve this pricing information from contractors’ catalogs on GSA eLibrary: www.GSAeLibrary.gsa.gov If pricing information is not available in a relevant contractor’s catalog, see whether this data is listed in GSA Advantage. www.gsaadvantage.gsa.gov
  12. 12. Tip #6: Be succinct in answering the non- quantitative questions. Most of the other questions in the Readiness Assessment are easy to answer. Take a common sense approach in presenting your answers: – Be succinct. Dispense with full sentences. The GSA reviewer will appreciate brevity. – Format simply. The PDF fillable file is not amenable to formatting niceties. Do not worry about it. – Do not provide text where it is not required. Many of the Readiness Assessment questions that ask you to check a “yes” or “no” box also display an area where you can type in a text response to supplement the “yes” or “no.” In most cases, these text fillable areas are irrelevant and you can ignore them. – Round as appropriate. GSA will not care if you dispense with numbers beyond the decimal point. – Avoid historical trivia. Some of the quantitative questions ask for trend data, by SIN. If this requires extensive analysis (e.g., because GSA has changed the scope of the relevant SIN over time), do not obsess over the details. If necessary, simply point out that trend data is not possible for certain SINs. 11
  13. 13. Tip #7: Do yourself a favor—consider what you have learned. 12 Do not treat the Readiness Assessment as a rote exercise or just another proposal burden. The Readiness Assessment is a decision support tool. It can be tempting to view it as just one more document to insert into your GSA proposal, in a perfunctory manner. This attitude would be a mistake. Even if your firm has already made a reasoned decision to pursue a GSA Schedule contract, you can learn from the Readiness Assessment. It might lead you to re-consider which SINs to pursue or even might persuade you that a different GSA Schedule would be a more appropriate goal.
  14. 14. Questions, comments? 13 Lincoln Strategies provides insightful, practical services to help firms create and sustain competitive advantage in the federal government market. Our clients include high value-added professional services firms and manufacturers. Many of our clients ask us to help them obtain GSA Schedule contracts. We also provide market research, strategic planning services, consulting, and proposal support focused on the federal market. For further information or if you have questions, please contact the firm’s Principal, Dave Alexander. Telephone: (978) 369-1140 E-mail: da@LincolnStrategies.com Web: www.LincolnStrategies.com

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