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Including experience and performance in proposals

 September 6, 2016
by Paul Heron

Not surprisingly, bid issuers rely on 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.

Some bidders confuse experience and performance. Experience refers to your past involvement on projects similar to the one on which you’re bidding. Performance refers to evidence of success doing similar work.

We’ll look at expressing experience and performance in this and the next three 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 some evaluators may feel bound to score only what’s in the proposal. Worse, if an evaluator favours another bidder, he or she may refuse to consider any facts not in your proposal.

Cite reference projects

It’s good practice to include an appendix of reference projects in your response—even if this is not a formal requirement. Use this post on project sheets to create a consistent format that works for your industry.

Note that the format we recommend includes four-to-six points explaining why the reference is relevant to this project. Be sure to include this information. Don’t leave it to evaluators to make the connection.

When you make experience and performance claims, cite only reference projects. Always provide enough information in the narrative to prove any claim; it’s unwise to assume evaluators will go to the appendix to find the supporting facts.

Decide on reference projects during strategy making

Bid teams—and especially consortiums—can reduce downstream effort by deciding on a list of reference projects before content development begins. 

Distributing this list at kick-off ensures key individual resumes (see post linked above for a standard resume format) and the narrative will 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.

Next week: Expressing relevant experience


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