10/14/09 1 For Small Businesses

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10/14/09 1 For Small Businesses

  1. 1. For Small Businesses Considering Federal Grants/Contracts Staying Out of the Weeds: Key Stepping Stones On the Path to Successful Proposals Susan B. Pernia - October 14, 2009 CONNECT Conference on Accessing Federal Funding 10/14/09
  2. 2. Important Semantics to Avoid Miscommunication <ul><li>Per Small Business Administration Glossary* </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://web.sba.gov/glossary </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Request for Proposal ( RFP)* - A solicitation issued by the government to prospective offerors. An RFP describes what the government requires and how the offerors will be evaluated. </li></ul><ul><li>Proposal/Bid - Offeror response to an RFP/RFI/IFB, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Grant* - Money given to a business that does not need to be repaid. [Selected by a panel of experts, typically does not include fee] </li></ul><ul><li>Contract * - A mutually binding legal relationship obligating the seller to furnish supplies or services (including construction) and the buyer to pay for them. </li></ul>10/14/09
  3. 3. Key Messages <ul><li>Don’t underestimate what it takes to win : It’s easy to write a proposal; difficult to win unless you have it wired </li></ul><ul><li>Know the Request for Proposal (RFP) and your response inside out: understand what is exactly required, secure clarification from the customer, gather team-wide RFP interpretations and best solutions, and prove compliance to management </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared to make an extensive set of decisions: Ensure decision-makers identified upfront and deliver verified information, full team perspectives, and risk analysis so management can make effective bid approvals </li></ul>10/14/09
  4. 4. The Optimal Path <ul><li>Examples of solid stepping stones </li></ul><ul><li>You know the customer well and they think you are the best, and pre-RFP they have asked for your input </li></ul><ul><li>You know the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses compared to yours, and you’re better </li></ul><ul><li>Your team meets or exceeds all RFP requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Your costs have a risk basis and are competitive </li></ul><ul><li>You have prior proposals you can readily adapt </li></ul><ul><li>You have the resources to bid </li></ul><ul><li>You win the bid and no one protests </li></ul><ul><li>You have the capabilities to actually deliver </li></ul>10/14/09 RFP Contract/Grant Pre-RFP Proposal Deliver
  5. 5. The Weeds <ul><li>What can lead you off-path </li></ul><ul><li>Customer doesn’t know you, or does know you </li></ul><ul><li>Incumbent or other organization is either well positioned or preferred </li></ul><ul><li>You are not sure of the players, or worse, the decision-makers </li></ul><ul><li>RFP requirements make no sense to you </li></ul><ul><li>The proposal has to be submitted in two weeks and your best people are booked with other work </li></ul><ul><li>Risk is high and requirements are difficult to price </li></ul><ul><li>It’s best to prime, but management wants to sub </li></ul><ul><li>It’s best to sub, but management wants to prime </li></ul><ul><li>To compete on price, you would have to propose an indefensible cost and schedule </li></ul>10/14/09 RFP Contract/Grant Pre-RFP Proposal Deliver
  6. 6. The Winning Path Is Comprised of Many Strategic Decision-Making Steps 10/14/09 RFP Contract/Grant Pre-RFP Proposal Deliver
  7. 7. Key Strategic Decisions Pre RFP <ul><li>Should you go after a potential RFP? </li></ul><ul><li>What capabilities are you prepared to define, bid, and deliver </li></ul><ul><li>What agencies/organizations do you want to target based on alignment with your capabilities? </li></ul><ul><li>What competitors are you willing to face? </li></ul><ul><li>What process will you use to track potential and current RFPs? </li></ul><ul><li>How prepared are you to address different grant/contract administration requirements?] </li></ul>10/14/09 RFP Contract/Grant Pre-RFP Proposal Deliver
  8. 8. Pre-RFP Self Check: On Path Vs. In the Weeds <ul><li>On Path </li></ul><ul><li>Defined and proven targeted capabilities </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Familiarity with Competitors </li></ul><ul><li>Awareness of RFP development </li></ul><ul><li>In Weeds </li></ul><ul><li>Bidding on anything </li></ul><ul><li>No idea who will be deciding the winner </li></ul><ul><li>Internal arguments about what to bid </li></ul><ul><li>Solutions in conceptual stage, not developed </li></ul>10/14/09
  9. 9. Key Strategic Decisions Post RFP Release <ul><li>Should you bid on the RFP? </li></ul><ul><li>Who are the best resources to review RFP? </li></ul><ul><li>If RFP is unclear, will you submit questions? </li></ul><ul><li>What process will you use to determine your level of competitiveness? </li></ul><ul><li>Which of discriminators, if any, apply to RFP? </li></ul><ul><li>What win themes are most compelling? </li></ul><ul><li>How should gaps in your capabilities be addressed – teaming, acquisition, research and development, etc? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the most effective risk mitigations? </li></ul>10/14/09 RFP Contract/Grant Pre-RFP Proposal Deliver
  10. 10. Post-RFP Self Check: On Path Vs In the Weeds <ul><li>On Path </li></ul><ul><li>RFP reads as expected </li></ul><ul><li>RFP requirements align with capabilities </li></ul><ul><li>Resources available to write proposal </li></ul><ul><li>Management supportive of bid </li></ul><ul><li>In Weeds </li></ul><ul><li>RFP is unclear </li></ul><ul><li>Team disagrees on approach </li></ul><ul><li>Capabilities are lacking for some RFP specs </li></ul><ul><li>No one want s to be on your team </li></ul><ul><li>Most adept staff busy with other work </li></ul>10/14/09
  11. 11. Key Strategic Decisions Draft Proposal Review <ul><li>When should the initial proposal draft be reviewed? </li></ul><ul><li>Who will be most effective in writing vs. reviewing the proposal? </li></ul><ul><li>What will be the schedule for proposal development, review and approval? </li></ul><ul><li>How will RFP compliance be tracked? </li></ul><ul><li>Who are the best/available personnel to bid? </li></ul><ul><li>Which technologies/processes should be bid? </li></ul><ul><li>What factors should be applied in cost model? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the risks related to the proposed solution and how will these be mitigated? </li></ul>10/14/09 RFP Contract/Grant Pre-RFP Proposal Deliver
  12. 12. Proposal Development Self Check: On Path Vs. In the Weeds <ul><li>On Path </li></ul><ul><li>Clear proposal language </li></ul><ul><li>Compelling themes and discriminators </li></ul><ul><li>100% compliance with RFP </li></ul><ul><li>High confidence with risk analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Cost model has firm basis for estimating budget </li></ul><ul><li>Team getting sleep </li></ul><ul><li>In Weeds </li></ul><ul><li>Proposed solution not realistic </li></ul><ul><li>Staff selected are available, not capable of required work </li></ul><ul><li>Cost estimates widely vary; no relevant past experience for resource estimating purposes </li></ul><ul><li>Scant analysis identifies extensive risk </li></ul><ul><li>Proposal team has internal bickering, not collaboration </li></ul>10/14/09
  13. 13. Key Strategic Decisions Proposal Preparation <ul><li>Should the proposal be approved for submittal? </li></ul><ul><li>Is each proposal section compelling/compliant? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the proposal have internal consistency? </li></ul><ul><li>Are pre-defined themes/discriminators evident? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there any conflict of interest with future work? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the price competitive, have a solid basis of estimate, and reflect risk? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the team have high confidence they can deliver what is proposed? </li></ul><ul><li>Has management fully signed off? </li></ul>10/14/09 RFP Contract/Grant Pre-RFP Proposal Deliver
  14. 14. Proposal Submittal Self Check: On Path Vs In the Weeds <ul><li>On Path </li></ul><ul><li>Required proposal staff is decreasing </li></ul><ul><li>Proposal is on schedule </li></ul><ul><li>Compliance verified </li></ul><ul><li>No surprises come from customer or team </li></ul><ul><li>Risk is well understood and accepted </li></ul><ul><li>Team is cautiously confident </li></ul><ul><li>In Weeds </li></ul><ul><li>Rewriting continues </li></ul><ul><li>Cost estimating continues </li></ul><ul><li>RFP non-compliance identified </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing pushing for submittal while team is wary of proposed solution </li></ul><ul><li>Management unclear whether to submit or not, and not happy with proposal team </li></ul>10/14/09
  15. 15. Additional Resources <ul><li>The FED provides workshops to assist small businesses in establishing their own proposal development business processes and practices </li></ul>10/14/09

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