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5 Steps to Streamlining Your RFP Response Process

Responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) is a necessary part of growing any government contracting business. However, it can be a time-consuming process that often leads to burnt-out and overworked teams producing lower-quality RFP responses. This results in high resource output with low conversion, and the burnout cycle perpetuates.  

This is where streamlining your RFP response process comes in. 

The solution includes a strategic shift to become more selective in “go” opportunities, and to develop a detailed plan to invest in an RFP response process. 

Following these five steps can lead to significant results:  

1. Ensure all requirements are met through a detailed tracking system  

2. Assign one person to focus on persuasive writing 

3. Develop a response calendar  

4. Implement a proposal response library 

5. Develop an internal and external debrief process 

Let’s further break down each of these steps:  

1. Ensure all requirements are met through a detailed tracking system. We always recommend putting together a compliance matrix for each response. A compliance matrix is an internal cross-referencing tool used by the Proposal Manager to ensure the proposal complies with the RFP. This is simply a table that lists all requirements, the reference to the RFP section, and status of that particular requirement. This document helps keep everyone focused and ensures you don’t miss a requirement.  

2. Assign one person to focus on persuasive writing. It’s hard to ask a writer to be all things to all people. And it’s extremely hard to ask the technical subject matter experts (SMEs) to become persuasive storytellers. Allow your SMEs to do what they do best: write the technical content. Have someone else on your team — whether it be a Proposal Manager or a Content Specialist — weave in the persuasive elements.  

3. Develop a response calendar. It’s always amazing to find responders who don’t create a simple but powerful response calendar. You can easily create a calendar template in Word that includes start to finish dates. Then, enter the due date first and reverse engineer all other key dates. You want to include time for review, editorial and formatting work, signatures and approvals, and writing. Essentially, you want to include all steps of the response that others need to complete. We always also suggest that you add things like holidays and key-person vacation time.  

4. Implement a proposal response library. This library should include language for standard sections like “About Us”, any standard processes, biographies and/or resumes, and so on. We recommend you include a series of reusable graphics that can be customized for each proposal. The purpose of the library is not necessarily to house all content, but to house the pieces of content that you replicate often. It makes it much easier to edit accordingly than to start from scratch.  

5. Develop an internal and external debrief process. This part of the process usually falls off the radar but is incredibly valuable to ongoing success. Internally, you should debrief on what went well and what can be improved upon. It’s important to do this soon after the response has been submitted, while it’s still fresh in people’s minds. Once the contract has been awarded, it’s strongly suggested to request a debrief with the buyer, win or lose. You will learn valuable lessons on what the evaluators liked about your proposal, what they might not have understood, or what they thought needed improvement. Even if you win, it’s valuable to get that feedback.  

In conclusion, streamlining your RFP response process is an investment in the future success of your business. By following these steps, businesses can increase efficiency and capacity in their RFP response process, leading to higher quality proposals with higher win rates while reducing the number of RFP responses. 

Lisa Rehurek is the CEO/Founder of The RFP Success® Company and has nearly 30 years of experience in the state government space, primarily around Requests for Proposal. She speaks, writes and consults on state government contract nuances with emphasis in IT & Tech, Medicaid/Healthcare and other Professional Services spaces. Lisa utilizes her strong marketing and operations background, out-of-the-box strategic approach, and 11-year-in-the-making response framework to guide small and medium sized businesses to successful state government contract wins. As a woman-owned business leader, Lisa has a special passion for mentoring other small & diverse businesses in the government space. Lisa Rehurek is also the host of The RFP Success® Show and author of The RFP Success® book.

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