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Buying Time in the Pricing Proposal Process
TMG’s Tried-and-True Approach
We received an inquiry recently from a company that was in dire need of pricing advice. The situation was this: Their Government proposal was due for submission in 2 days, but they were not confident on how to interpret a requirement stated in the RFP. Indeed, the RFP was unclear on this point as it was inconsistently referenced in two sections. Unfortunately, the company had lost its opportunity to ask a clarifying question of the Government during the Q&A period, and with no time left, they were pressured to submit their rates and cross fingers that their calculations were right. This is a high-risk gamble considering the investment already spent on preparing a response to the RFP and what was at stake to lose! Providing many companies with pricing support over the years, we have seen all too many times how time pressures affect the success of a company’s Government bid. In pricing, time is the enemy. There is always a crunch in the process, so you must stay ahead of the curve.
You might think that our cost proposal development approach is some fancy algorithm. It’s not. It boils down to being supremely organized, paying attention to every detail from the get-go, and being diligent in maintaining this approach throughout the entire proposal process. When you have the time, use it wisely. Complete as many things as you can and stay organized throughout the process. It will save you when it gets down to crunch time later. It starts with a critical review of the RFP, the very first step of our process, which happens as soon as possible at the RFP’s first release, draft stage preferred.
It doesn’t matter if the RFP is hundreds of pages long. We train our Government Pricing Analysts to thoroughly read every page of the RFP, collecting key information and questions during the first read. This includes attachments and amendments – every single page. Yes, it may take 4 hours and require extreme focus, but we believe it is a necessary step that lays a solid foundation for delivering a quality proposal we can be confident about.
We believe in standard processes. It keeps teams in sync and helps us stay in compliance with the numerous requirements of a Government RFP. So naturally, we have a set process for the RFP Review, and we strongly encourage you to have one, too. In our process, the key information is collected and entered in an RFP Key Info Excel Sheet. Our clarifying questions to ask the Government are entered in an RFP Questions Development Excel Sheet as we catch them, also during the first read. Everything is detailed and referenced with RFP page numbers and links to save time later when every minute will count. Once these Excel sheets are completed, they are dropped into our RFP Compliance Matrix, which is managed by the lead Pricer. As a standard process, no other pricing work begins until this comprehensive RFP review and data collection step is completed.
Once all the RFP key information and Government questions are consolidated in our RFP Compliance Matrix, the pricing team is set up for success to tackle the next pricing task. Of course, having a great pricing lead is essential to manage things from here. But by always preparing our RFP Compliance Matrix first as a standard process, the pricing team operates more efficiently, reducing unnecessary stress. (There will be enough of it later when you’re building the cost volume!)
Get your team primed and ready with a standard RFP review process and do it as soon as possible before actual pricing work begins. In the case of our company inquiry at the beginning of this story, we provided the best solution option given their time constraints. But if a standard RFP review process was followed, the Government questions could have been collected at the start and submitted well before the Q&A due date arrived, when time ran out and stress was high.
You can purchase our Pricing Tools & Templates at TMG Academy Online!