Not surprisingly, bid issuers look to relevant experience and past performance as indictors of a proponent’s ability to perform successfully. These factors are heavily weighted in every RFP scoring system we see.
Experience and performance are not the same. Experience refers to past involvement on projects similar to the one on offer. Performance refers to evidence of success doing similar work.
We’ll look at expressing experience and performance in this and the next two posts.
Respond as if they don’t know you
Describe your company’s experience and performance as if you have no history with the prospect. Do this even if you believe you have a strong relationship, even if you’re a current vendor.
Why? Because most evaluators—especially those reviewing proposals for large contracts—follow scoring guides in awarding points. Bid teams that provide fact-based evidence of experience and performance will naturally do better in these situations.
There are two additional factors at play. First, proposal evaluators are apt to scan your proposal quickly, and facts are easier to score than fact-free claims, Secondly, large project sponsors, especially government agencies, are likely to use fairness commissioners whose job is to ensure proposal evaluations are “by the book.”
Include reference projects
Requests for qualifications (RFQs) for large projects ask for details of reference projects to demonstrate experience and performance. We recommend including an appendix of reference projects in your response, even if this is not a formal requirement.
Prepare by developing a standard format that captures all relevant information for your industry. Include a section of four-to-six bullet points explaining why the reference is relevant that can be customized for each response. Don’t leave it to evaluators to make the connection.
When you make experience and performance claims, cite only reference projects as examples. If the reference projects are in a non-required appendix always provide enough information in the narrative to prove any claim, as not all evaluators will go to the appendix to find the supporting facts.
Decide on reference projects during strategy making
Reduce downstream confusion and rewrites by selecting reference projects before content development begins.This is especially helpful for consortiums and joint ventures. To support the selection process, create a matrix of candidate projects’ desirable characteristics. We’ll include more on project selection matrices in an upcoming post.
Distributing a list of reference projects at kick-off will help to ensure narrative drafts cite only reference projects. The alternative is often a last-minute scrub and hasty rewrite to substitute reference for non-reference projects.
Armed with your list of reference projects, you’re ready to express your relevant experience and past performance.