Going With the Flow(chart): Aligning with the Customer’s Organization

It is important to stand out. It is necessary to demonstrate your unique qualifications. It is vital to show that your company deserves the bid because you can supply something superior — something DIFFERENT than the rest. But, not so different that your proposal alienates its evaluators.

RFPs are released in order to locate a company that can best fulfill a need, i.e., a product or service   that is outside the bounds of a given Government agency’s capabilities, so most sections of your proposal are devoted to selling your company’s distinctive offerings. Yet, there is one section that is your opportunity to strike a necessary chord of familiarity: the Management Volume.

Prospective customers are looking for themselves in your proposal. One of the ways to make your proposal Management Volume resonate with the evaluation team is to ensure that the customer can see his organization reflected in the way you will manage the project.  This obviously requires some knowledge of how your prospective customer is organized to conduct business.

As we’ve discussed in earlier postings, it is essential to do the up-front work prior to the RFP’s release.  In addition to shaping the procurement by providing the customer with advance understanding of the unique benefits of your product – thereby ensuring that those features make it into the product specification – you also learn as much as you can about the customer’s organization, functional departments, and key stakeholders.  By knowing their key concerns, desires, or “hot buttons”, you can tailor your management volume to not only address them, but show that by working with you, their job will be easier than with any competitors.  One target for this tailoring is the customer’s organization.

As an example, if you are a heavy manufacturing company, your organization may be very functional in design with most resources concentrated in the Operations Section, and most administrative functions working in different functional stovepipes such as Finance & Accounting or Contracts.  See Figure 1.  While this organization may be conducive to producing your product, your customer may be organized completely differently (for example a matrix – Figure 2).  By comparing the two figures, the solution is obvious.  You need to create a project management team composed of the functional disciplines of your customer’s organization and able to align directly to address his key areas of concern.  SeeFigure 3.

The take-away is to devise and discuss this team in the management section of your proposal.  Your customer is interested in your organization, but he is also VERY interested in how you will align resources to facilitate his management of you.

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