Summer is the silly season in federal government contracting. When it comes to business development, many events that most of us go to are on temporary hiatus until September to allow for vacations that limit attendance, so what do we do? Well, there tends to be no shortage of bidding opportunities on FedBizOpps, GSA
Most federal contractors who have been in the game for a while have some strict gates on evaluating Government Requests for Proposal (RFPs). However, newer companies often don’t have such a process, and desperate contractors tend to relax the standards based on the strategy of hope. Regardless, companies can spend thousands of dollars in lost time and resources pursuing contract opportunities where their chance of winning approaches zero.
In this category, there falls a distinct bid type that many in the industry affectionately call the wired contract. This is a
So how do you determine if the RFP you really want to pursue is wired, virtually eliminating your chances of winning while wasting time, energy, and money? Here are four telltale signs to get your sixth sense tingling.
Hyper-Aggressive Due Date
If you encounter an RFP that requires some thought and energy to respond; that is, it isn’t simply seeking butts in
One tactic to verify if the bid process is a fait accompli is to submit a request for
Sometimes you’ll see requests for deliverables prior to award as part of the qualification process. These may be legitimate, but if they seem overboard, they probably are. For instance, I can recall one bid for a contract that was for 1 year with a 1-year option for some SharePoint operations and maintenance support. After review and research of the contract history (it was a re-compete), our team had determined that the numbers were not exceedingly large by Federal standards, perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars a year. The process requested a 30-page bid proposal, followed by a finalist presentation, along with a fully working prototype of a complicated workflow system. The prototype had to be custom built and was requested pro bono, as part of the bid. Combined with a short turnaround, this told us that it was very likely that a preferred vendor already had the demo system in place. No bid.
Sometimes unclear wording is a result of the RFP author being either incompetent or under the gun to get many bid requests out the door. I have seen entire sections duplicated in the same Instructions to Bidders section that
The exception to this warning sign is the case where the RFP states unequivocally that the agency is looking for innovative approaches to a listed problem, understanding that they will not get the apples to
Overly-Specific Past Performance Requests
This isn’t a typo. The corollary to a statement of work that is too general is one that has too many specifics regarding needed experience, combined in such a way that it is almost impossible for any company to have the required past performance. At least, all but one. Mandating that the respondent needs multiple examples of working with Agency A, Division B, and specific System C eliminates
These 4 signs can stand alone as warnings that your chances of success on this bird are slim to none. If you see them combined, you can feel confident that your proposal team’s time, and your company’s money, is best spent working on something else. Better to engage in the business development activities needed to help you shape winning opportunities for next year than to chase losing chances today.
Karl Walinskas is the Founder and CEO of FedTrax, a business development firm that helps innovative technology companies gain opportunity and traction in the Federal Government marketplace. FedTrax provides a variety of smart business development services including targeting strategy, thought leadership, Federal teaming, sales management, and complete outsourcing of the business development process.
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