Do you have enough time? Before we start reading let’s see if there is even enough time to respond, so let’s find the due date:
1) Look at the summary on FBO, it is frequently listed there
2) Look at the title page of the RFP to see if it is there
3) Look in section C of the proposal and see if there is a date there or if you are looking at a grant look in section 4
4) If you still can’t find it search for “date” or the current and next month, so if it is “May” search for “May” or “June.”
I recommend looking in all these sections and hopefully the due dates are all the same, but if they aren’t you will want to look for a Q&A document in the FBO listing (see image below for where the Q&A is located if there is one) and if you don’t find an answer there write an email to the contracting office asking for clarification, but odds are the later date will be the one that is official.
How much time you need: More time is always better but
1) look for the page limits for the sections of the RFP that you are responsible for (typically in section M) and total it up
2) Multiply the number of pages by 10 Hours (a good planning figure for how long it takes to create 1 finished page)
3) Use the chart to estimate how much work remains to create finished pages
4) Multiply the number of hours by the work remaining % to get the rough number of hours you need to create a complete proposal
Can you meet the evaluation criteria: Now let’s see if there are any requirements that you just can’t get around. These are the binary ones like you have to demonstrate three examples of cloud services on a DOD network. You might have tons of experience in cloud services, but if it is all commercial experience or cloud experience on non-DOD networks then this may be a show stopper. The only work around is to read the RFP language around that requirement and see if you can use another company’s experience in that space to meet the requirement. But if not, you’re out of luck and you should look for the next RFP.
What if the hours needed to write is HUGE! When you first start you will probably see a HUGE number for the total hours needed to build your sections of the proposal, and you may throw up your hands and never start. DON’T do this. Even if you can only spend 2 hours per page this is still a win because the next time you get an RFP that calls for this material you are already going to be 2 hours ahead, and if you just keep improving your material little by little pretty soon you will be starting every proposal nearly complete.
Why established contractors have such an advantage: One of the big reasons that established contractors have such an advantage is their RFP library. They have sunk a bunch of time into building really high quality content so they are way ahead of the pack the day the RFP is released and can spend their time adapting their good base content to the peculiarities of that opportunity.