Follow the RFP Rules
Recently I was discussing a Compliance Review we conducted for a client on a draft proposal.
We typically use a ‘traffic light’ system to code our assessments – Green for compliant, Yellow for Close But Needs Work and Red for Fix This or Be Disqualified. The assessment also provides specific guidance on how to fix or improve the non-compliant section.
Compliance is an interesting topic because it’s the details that get you thrown out. Compliance can have one or both of the following: (1) a Binary Component and/or (2) an Objective Component.
A Binary component can be as simple as “Have this page Notarized”.
An Objective component is more along the lines of “Describe your approach to Lean Manufacturing”.
In the former, if you don’t notarize the form, you are tossed out. Period. No exceptions.
In the latter, you have a chance to stand out and succeed – so long as you describe your approach to manufacturing adequately. If you ignore that requirement, however, you are tossed out.
Remember, Government Reviewers evaluate proposals, they don’t read them.
As such, they are comparing what you provide against two key aspects – first, have you followed the directions completely, and second, how well you addressed their requirements.
The first thing they do is look for Binary Compliance – because if you don’t follow the rules – they can disqualify you and never have to fully evaluate your proposal.
My client was looking at the list of Green, Yellow and Red items – and noted that many of the Red were minor items – easily fixed – meaning in his mind that the review was somewhat misleading.
I responded that while yes, they were easily fixed, but not doing so was guaranteed to get them disqualified. Then I asked, is forgetting to sign or notarize a page worth being disqualified from a large, important contract?
I’d hate to be the one explaining to my CEO why our offer didn’t even get evaluated because of a simple matter of fundamental compliance.
No matter that you may have spent $50K, or $100K or more preparing your beautifully bound, color-coded, tabbed and organized proposal with its high gloss finish and wonderful graphics.
No matter that you may have the best technical solution or offer the best value.
Use the wrong font? Disqualified.
Forget to sign the offer? Disqualified.
Exceed page count? They might toss the extra-pages and ever see your solution.
Or they could toss you out.
Moral of the story? Just follow the Rules.
AND have someone do a COMPLIANCE CHECK for you…