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Bid Proposals | Using a compliance matrix

 April 16, 2013
by Paul Heron

Track your compliance internally—and in your proposal

Compliance is a table-stakes issue for bid teams. You absolutely need to tick off all RFP requirements before turning your attention to value-added offerings and polishing your sales message.

Most teams set up a compliance matrix as part of the kick-off process and include each RFP requirement, plus any pain points and/or hot button items they want to ensure they address.

Use Excel for your matrix

An Excel worksheet works well for this. You can assign a row to each bid section (and sub-section, if the bid is large) and columns to each compliance item (described and referenced by RFP page and paragraph or line).

The intersecting cells can then be used for notes on your strategy for proving compliance and who is responsible for gathering the information required. Colour fill can indicate partial or full completeness of each requirement as drafts are produced.

Including a matrix in your proposal

In addition to using matrices as bid preparation tools, they can be part of the proposal itself.

Depending on the situation, we’ve done this in various ways:

  1. Appendix: If the response is relatively short (30 pages or less) and/or if the compliance items in the RFP are implied, rather than explicit, consider including the matrix as an appendix. Use a table with a row for each compliance item. Identify the compliance item, describe how your plan achieves compliance and indicate where the point is referenced in your response. This is a defensive manoeuver, aimed at avoiding the risk that evaluators will overlook a compliance item.
  2. Executive Summary: If space is limited and the main compliance items are clear, consider including a matrix in the executive summary. Identify each item and make a proof claim that shows your plan and experience comply with the requirement. Placing the matrix in the executive summary demonstrates you understand the prospect’s needs and stakes your claim early as a fully compliant bidder.
  3. Section Headers: In large bid responses a different evaluator may be assigned to each section or volume. In this case it makes sense to lead each section with a matrix specifically addressing its requirements. Common requirements can be repeated in any section matrix where they apply. A high-level matrix can also be included in the executive summary.

The first rule of bid responses is: Make it clear and easy for evaluators to understand your offer and compare it their RFP. A compliance matrix helps you prepare a clear and compliant bid—and helps evaluators assess it.

Do you use compliance matrices in your bid responses? Please share your experience.

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




  Sep 23, 2013 07:46AM
Mr. Paul,

Thanks for the article. Very informative for proposal guys.


We used to include Compliance Matrix in our proposals earlier (2 yrs before). But now a days we are not. Unless we have a clear need to address the RFP requirements, we are not going for Compliance Matrix.

Reasons are:

1. Size of RFP (More than 50 Pages)

2. Size of our proposals (Generally more than 100 Pages)

3. Unless the RFP asks to submit a clause by clause compliance for any specific sections

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