What is a Government RFP?
A government RFP is a request for bids from potential vendors on upcoming government related projects.
From a vendor perspective, bidding on a Government RFP is complicated. So complicated in fact, that some don’t even bother. As the procurement team or officer, why is this bad news for you? Because you could be missing out on a better service than the one you currently have or will sign.
Some issues that vendors have include:
- Heavy competition
- Difficulty breaking into the Government sector due to the lengthy and overly complicated contracting processes
- A lack of clarity on how to connect
- A sense that newcomers have little chance to win contracts over incumbents
The simple fact is, making the Government RFP process easier for vendors increases the option pool for procurement officers, maximizing the potential to find the perfect vendor for you.
Why are people scared of the Government RFP?
The easiest step to attract more bidders is simplifying the Government RFP process. This action has a double benefit because a more straightforward application leads to a more straightforward review process.
The biggest consumer of time for both buyer and vendor can be broad answers. By allowing vendors to interpret questions and answers in their way, the answers become harder to compare. People will often go on tangents, beefing up their response to make it look good, when in fact it is just muddying the pool. You want to be able to compare the information relevant to your questions, not wade through a bunch of other “features” that are irrelevant.
Measurable responses; editable weighting by question and section coupled with live reporting and tracking simplifies both the Government RFP completion and review process for both buyer and vendor.
Exercise control for Government RFPs
The exchange of information during the tender process can become unmanageable. Creating controls or limits not only maintains a sense of order, but it also has its benefits in the negotiation stage as well. Too much transparency can work against your negotiation tactics making it vital to ensure information is uniform and delivered via the same portal for all involved.
The utilization of procurement software will allow you to run multiple RFPs, organized and assigned by different departments, and involve numerous stakeholders through one portal. This system will help to achieve transparency and clear communications.
The benefits of a single-pane management system include:
- Centralization and management of multiple proposals
- Presentation and RFP content standardized and easy to read
- Direct communication with vendors
- Ability to work on one or multiple RFPs at once
How do you handle Government RFP pricing?
Government RFP pricing can work a little differently to regular business. It is essential to make pricing clear, but there are also some guidelines that need to be adhered to. These guidelines can be found in the GSA Form 1408 Pre-award Survey of Prospective Contractor Accounting System.
The main things this form asks you to consider are:
- The separation of direct and indirect costs
- The exclusion of unallowable costs
- The allocation of indirect costs
When asking for pricing information, break it down for vendors as much as possible.
For example, how much for how many units? By separating your requirements bidders will be able to give you more concise pricing. It also helps to identify particular services that they may not offer. This may also explain a low bid which doesn’t account for all components.
How long is too long?
Long paragraphs, from both buyer or bidder, aren’t helping anyone. The length makes things ambiguous, confusing, and people hate writing essays. We’re not going to give you a word count limit, that isn’t realistic, but the shorter the better, without missing vital information.
To trim down your RFP content and the responses you have to wade through:
- Use multiple choice questions for easy comparison
- Use discrete sections to keep information received only the important stuff
Keep in mind that vendors are in a competition for your business, they want to protect their interests and beat out the competitors. By keeping your question and answer process simple and fair, you level the playing field for all involved.
Think about who is completing the Government RFP
It’s important to keep in mind that it is unlikely one person or even one department are completing your Government RFP. Break your RFP into sections that apply to different parties within the organization, e.g., finance, service support, etc.
Multiple teams and locations can also mean multiple awards. One RFP may yield multiple awards, so you want to be flexible in your deployment. This allows buyers to frame the award in whatever way they choose. It can be applied to a particular bidder or service and then be saved.
How do you break the stigma around the Government RFP?
The process of applying for a Government RFP is too complex; it takes too much time, there is no point in trying as they only award large corporations. True or not, these are the things vendors think before even considering a Government RFP.
By simplifying the actual process of application, and clarifying the measurement criteria, you make the act of applying more appealing.
- A streamlined application process that is easy to complete
- Less confusion and ambiguity around what is required
- A quick and collaborative selection process
- Single-pane systems that are visible to all involved
If your RFP management system allows for real-time progress of responses, even better. Try to keep in mind that the vendor’s time is valuable. Chewing it up with long, drawn-out assessment processes will deter further application, and help further the stigma around the difficulty of applying for a Government RFP.
More applications, more options, and less work
The U.S Government awards over US$500 billion in contracts annually. That’s a lot of Government RFPs being created, sent out, responded to and assessed. By taking advantage of RFP management software, you save 60 percent of your RFP creation time and see a 50 percent reduction in costs. Above all, the benefits of simplifying your process are experienced by both you and the vendors that you want to hear from. A win for everyone.