Mandatory Requirements – The Gatekeeper to an Easy RFP Response
The most essential first step in responding to an RFP is the Mandatory Requirements. These are the requirements that outline the Vendor corporation basics and can include anything from the corporate overview, qualifications of staff, security clearances, past performance, industry experience and various forms.
Gathering this information is a time consuming endeavour, especially if the information hasn’t been captured, documented or easily found. Spending your time just getting the ‘intel’ for your mandatory requirements will often sidetrack you from getting to the actual problem of the RFP, and by then – time has already run out. The Mandatory section is also the gatekeeper to the Evaluation section. While the points assigned to this section are often less, without a pass, vendors are eliminated due to lack of information or capabilities.
To successfully participate in the RFP process, you should be spending the bulk of the time solving the actual problem and determining the strategy and the price points. This is often where the majority of the points are in the evaluation process.
You want to concentrate under the deadline, on the specific problem that needs solving for this RFP – and 70% of your time should be spent there. Wasting time gathering your company info, while the deadline is looming closer causes frustration and takes the team off track. It also leads to less time spent on the solving of the actual problem and the strategy and pricing behind it.
Best business practices would ensure that you always have your mandatory documentation updated. Then, when you see the RFP – you just fill in the blanks with a bit of editing and spend the majority of the time speaking to your unique value as a vendor.
To get to this credibility point, the company information must be documented on an ongoing basis. Start with your Business Intelligence – it’s a synthesis of expertise. It’s written in the DNA of the company. This builds your internal database of information. It also ensures that when key team members leave the company, this information has been captured for posterity.
Every project completed should be documented; listing the type of project, the years you worked on it, the industry, the contact person, their address, their email, the scope of the project, the value of the project, and the problem that you solved. This should include what went right, what went wrong. Typically it should be done at the end of every project, and this is also the opportune time to request a letter of reference to add to your information. Include all references and names of support staff involved. Do this now!
Your company should also create internal resumes of your personnel on file and have them updated after every project. Include comments and recommendations, as well as expertise gained, as this type of information becomes of vital importance when building your credibility within the RFP. Security clearances often form part of the resume, so ensure they are always up to date.
Now, when a suitable RFP crosses your desk – you can quickly gather your Mandatory information by pulling from your corporate database and adjusting to fit rather than starting from scratch. You will find 30% of your RFP will be done already!
The RFP process is an opportunity to market your company before a hot lead – stay on top of those mandatory requirements and get past the gatekeeper with ease.
Sharon Giraud brings over 20 years of success writing and winning RFPs.
As a Boardroom Metrics Consultant, she advises organizations on ways to effectively communicate your company’s value and unique capabilities through written proposals.