How to write a business proposal in response to a government RFP

May 20, 2015

Whenever a government agency wants to acquire anything it must first of all issue a RFP or Request for Proposal. Based on the proposals received in response to the RFP the government agency will then either award or decline the proposals it has received. These proposals give the agency a good chance to determine whether the respondent company is offering competitive pricing and whether or not it is qualified to take up its proposal. Knowing what it takes to write a business proposal in response to a government RFP (request for proposal) is essential if you want your business to win the contract.

Each RFP is not only very flexible but it also varies depending on the type of product or service required. So, before you even think about writing a proposal in response to a government RFP you must be clear in your mind as to how an Invitation for Bid and Request for Quote are different to an RFP. Unless you understand the differences involved you will not be able to write a proper business proposal.

An Invitation for Bid involves contracts whose value is in excess of $100,000, and in which the government agency is sure about what it wants and is thus requesting bidders to submit their bids. The Request For Quote on the other hand is not binding and is used by government agencies that want to know what the current market price for a particular contract is. The Request for Proposal is a request that not only asks for pricing but it also asks the bidder to tell the agency how it plans on handling the job and what is their experiences with particular kinds of work.

So, before writing your business proposal in response to a government RFP you need to be prepared to do a lot of paperwork. You need to know how to depict your company in the best light and you have to also be good at selling your company as being the ideal company for the job.

Writing a business proposal in response to a government RFP should be considered a continuous process. The more proposals you write the more capable you become of writing the best one. Since government agencies are public entities everything about them is a matter of public record and this includes the proposals that were successful. So, to know more about how to write your business proposal you should be prepared to check out the government databases. Here, you will be able to locate all the successful proposals and that in turn will give you invaluable insights into what different government agencies are looking for in the proposals submitted to them.

Of course, each government agency has their own particular needs and requirements and they will be looking for proposals that address these individual needs and requirements.

Now, before you write your proposal be sure to find out everything about the government agency whose RFP you want to respond to. You should be clear about the type of proposal the agency is looking for. Be sure to find out what details the agency is looking for and what kinds of references it likes. Take a close look at previous successful proposals to find out more about the agency expects from the responders.

As for the actual business proposal you need to take into account the following factors:

  • Technical aspect: be sure of including requirements that will reduce the number of competitors to a handful. Try to give suggestions pertaining to requirements that are one-of-a-kind and which your company is able to provide
  • Specs: you should make recommendations about items that your company is able to comply with but which your competitors are not able to do the same.
  • Type of contract: if you prefer a certain kind of contract, then this is the place where you should make your recommendation.
  • Requirements for small sized businesses: if your company is a small one and the government agency to whom you are sending the proposal works according to the FAR manual, then you should recommend to the agency that it releases the RFP as a small business set-aside. If your company is not a small one, then you need to emphasize the aspects that small businesses would find difficult to comply with. Next, spell out in clear terms your willingness to work with a small business, if that is permitted.
  • Prices: try and keep your prices as competitive as possible as this will give you an advantage over your competitors.
  • Previous Performance: if you have never completed a government project in the past, make a recommendation to the government agency that it takes into account relevant commercial experience.
  • Certificates: in case you already have certifications from past projects, then you should recommend to the government agency that it make certification a requirement to get the contract. This helps to limit your competition. If you do not have certification then recommend that certifications not be a requirement because they end up limiting competition.
  • What methodology should be used? In case you want to take a certain approach to completing the job then describe this in the proposal. You must explain any methodologies that you plan on using and how other methodologies have a higher risk of failing.

The best business proposal in response to a government RFP is one that can provide a strategy that works in conjunction with short as well as long-term business objectives. Be sure to spell out the insights, which you think the main decision makers at the agency will find appealing. Also, when presenting your business proposal, makes sure that you keep the submission to essential facts and information and provide enough info to define the scope of your offer.

The quality of information that you provide should be high as different individuals at the government agency will be evaluating your technical and pricing aspects of the submission. So, be sure to provide high quality information rather than lots of information. Finally, remember that government proposals are well regulated and that the RFP has a unique format as well as structure. Also, keep in mind the fact that price is not the most important factor; so, provide high quality and relevant information.

For more information on writing business proposals, here is an article we wrote on how to write a business proposal.

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