Qualities of a Winning Project Proposal

The initial hurdle with project proposal writing is to ensure that your firm’s capabilities is a close match to the Request for Proposal (RFP) Scope of Work. This can be accomplished through your company’s own contract experience or by forming a joint venture with another firm that has the specific technical capabilities that you lack. Other methods are to establish a teaming agreement or to use qualified subcontractors. The key here is to ensure that whichever method you choose; it is identified as acceptable to the solicitation. And, since they are all different, you need to make sure that your proposed entity meets the requirements. This should be a part of your capture strategy designed to increase your chances of winning.

Often there is a pre-proposal conference where the agency’s key criteria can be identified. Once you know their hot buttons and pain points, you’ll be able to focus your message on addressing and exceeding those issues. Throughout the technical proposal, your presentation of the company’s capabilities should tell a persuasive story detailing how your qualifications are an exact fit for the requirements they are looking for. Your initial goal is to stand out from the competition in a way that mitigates the risk of choosing your firm and creates a sense of pride in aligning themselves with you as the contractor.

When the requirements and compliance issues are confusing or all over the place and not organized very well in the RFP itself, a compliance matrix can help the evaluators easily identify that you have responded to each and every proposal requirement. More often, with a well-organized RFP, a detailed Table of Contents can function in the same manner.

When responding in a very competitive environment, presenting your methodology and approach in a way that differentiates you from the competition can be crucial. Describing the benefits of your approach and how you will accomplish their goals and objectives together with proofs that you have utilized these same methods with similar organizations or projects presented in a compelling way is an ideal way to create an affinity with the evaluator and get their head nodding in your direction.

When allowed, an Executive Summary can be used to generate anticipation of your more detailed approach and make claims that exceed their expectations and interest in discovering how your company will fulfill those claims. Try and always use specifics, numbers, and facts when presenting this information. Also, throughout the proposal, maintain consistent keywords in your headers and sub-headers that match the keywords used within the RFP. This creates themes throughout that speak directly to the agency’s specific areas of need.
In addition to the Executive Summary, each main section of your technical approach should introduce what you will be presenting in that section and keep the content clear and concisely written without run-on sentences. Use bullet lists, sub headers, and graphics when appropriate to support and enhance the narrative. Be sure to use captions for image, graphics, and tables. Break up paragraphs into unique thoughts. At the same time, try not to appear to commercial; in other words, you do not want it to look like a magazine, but more like an informative professional document that addresses critical issues. This blog post is not the ideal example, as its purpose is primarily to provide content for Google’s AI to help you find The RFP Firm online, not part of a proposal designed to be reviewed by an evaluation committee.

To support your proposed approach, provide examples of similar successful implementations on other projects as proofs that your approach is effective and that your key personnel have the necessary experience they will leverage during the performance of this contract. Include references for these same projects in order to tie these past successes to this contract and thereby enhance the probability of a successful outcome on this new project. In your description of the scope of services accomplished on past projects identify various difficulties that you encountered and how you were able to successfully overcome those obstacles.

For a schedule of events, it is very important to demonstrate through a detailed plan when key milestones will be met, and which tasks will be performed at what point in that schedule. The narrative should identify how this schedule will be met and what methods will be used to ensure that each task performed will be completed on schedule and on budget. Emphasize the efficiencies of your approach, why this is relevant, and how this will bring cost savings to the agency.

Pricing is always a critical determinant in the selection criteria. If it is a Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) solicitation, the key is understanding the marketplace, your competition, and be able to justify the price you propose, especially since a winning price must be the lowest price. When pricing is a portion of the evaluation criteria, which is the most common, a reasonable price is sought. Even so, if your price is too high or too low, they may mark it as unreasonable, thinking that you don’t understand the project, and take your proposal out of consideration or give you zero points for that section. In general, with government proposals, calculate your costs and an acceptable profit. If you can’t make any money, look for another opportunity or, if allowed, offer several options.

Finally, your proposal should be easy to read and visually appealing on the page by using numerous headers and sub-headers, short paragraphs, bullet lists, call-outs, diagrams and images that support the narrative, as well as clear and concise copy with all acronyms defined.