Last week we explained how to set up the Competitive Solutions Matrix (CSM). A CSM helps analyse issues important to the prospect and how your planned response stacks up—and then to develop strategies for stressing competitive advantages and addressing weaknesses.
The outcome is a set of decisions, for example to develop win themes and visualizations—or even to find a stronger subcontractor or component supplier—that will position your offer more favourably with evaluators.
But the CSM is also valuable for another reason—it provides input to help Blue Team Reviewers assess your built-out strategy and affirm (or reverse) the initial decision to bid.
The Vendor Comparison Matrix (VCM) is designed to help Blue Team Reviewers score your proposal strategy against likely competitors’ offers.
Setting up a Vendor Comparison Matrix
Open an Excel worksheet and create the column headers below:
- RFP Section
- Max points available
- Key issues
- Our score
- Competitor 1 score
- Competitor 2 score
- Competitor 3 score
Use the RFP to complete rows for the first four columns. Use as many rows as necessary to reflect the granularity in the RFP requirements and scoring system.
You can also complete the issues column—or leave that for the reviewers.
Completing and discussing the VCM
Circulate the fully developed and documented strategy (including the CSM) and the partially completed VCM to Blue Team Reviewers. Ask them to use the strategy, plus their understanding of the prospect, market and likely competitive offerings, to complete the matrix.
Be sure each key team member—e.g. capture manager, project manager and proposal manager—completes a VCM for comparison with the Blue Team consensus.
Facilitate a meeting of the reviewers to discuss their VCMs. Focus on scores that vary widely from one reviewer to another, and on areas where reviewers consider your offer weak. Brainstorm ways to strengthen the offer, and seek consensus on whether to proceed to proposal development.
The value of quantification
Having individuals commit to scores for RFP subsections makes subjective feelings about the offer more concrete and provides a starting point for discussion. Absolute scores are not important—the key is to uncover how reviewers believe your solution stacks up.
Committing to scores also provides a benchmark for post award win-loss reviews and analysis.
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