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Managing reference projects

 January 24, 2017
by Paul Heron

RFQs and RFPs for large projects often require reference projects demonstrating the capabilities of the proponent and key individuals proposed to manage project responsibilities. Many issuers limit the number of reference projects.

Selecting reference projects inevitably involves trade offs, since proponent strive to include projects similar to the one under procurement—and that also showcase the work of its proposed key individuals.

Select projects as part of strategy making

If possible, select reference projects before kicking off content development. This lets the team begin work on on project sheets, and also lets resume writers give prominence to each key individual’s involvement in reference projects.

Selecting reference projects early also guides narrative writing, since it’s good practice to cite only designated reference projects as examples when making a case for the proponent’s strengths and experience.

Setting up reference projects

Use a meatball chart to select reference projects. Devote a row to each reference project candidate, and then use columns to identify project characteristics (type, value, rural or urban, unique constraints, etc.). Set up the RFP project as the first row and use its main features to decide which characteristics to choose.

Next, add a column for each J-V member and individual on your proposed team. If individuals perform more than one role, you can use different symbols to indicate whether the role on the reference project candidate is or isn’t the same as proposed for the RFP project.

Once you’ve populated the intersecting cells, you’ll have a clearer picture of which candidates offer the best combination of resource overlap and desired characteristics.

Managing additions and deletions

Few things are more nerve-racking to a large proposal team than integrating late changes that ripple through the entire document. But reference projects can change if a consortium member drops out, or a key person becomes unavailable, or for other reasons.

The selection matrix helps identify the impact on selected projects and provide a start in selecting other candidates. Following a proposal style guide that includes long and short form project names will make it easy to find all mentions of the now-deleted project(s).

Early planning pays off

The reference project matrix is one more example of how upfront planning makes the sprint to submission more bearable—and results in persuasive and flawless proposals.


Need help improving proposal processes?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 





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