Preferably before the RFP ever comes out, you should be assessing the potential competition on a proposal. Because a proposal is a competition, you need to score higher to win. In order to boost yourself, or even lower them, you have to know who they are.
In the early stages, any one who is a potential teaming partner is also a potential competitor. If there is an incumbent contractor, they are definitely a competitor. If this is a new contract, consider everyone else working for that customer, especially those who do work in the same field as the contract. Next look for companies who do similar work for similar customers.
Often when an RFP is released it will include a “bidders list,” or list of companies that the RFP was sent to. This list also includes competitors --- but beware, there are ways to obfuscate this list to hide you identity from others, and all those listed will not bid.
Once you’ve settled on a list of potential competitors (even if by type instead of by name), the next step is to compare yourself with each of them. This requires knowing something about them, and this is a key reason why business developers spend so much of there time networking.
When comparing yourself to the competition, here is a list of things to consider:
History with this
- Type of procurement
- Technology/Scope of work
- Past Performance
- Intellectual property
- Win strategy
Suitability of location and logistics
If a draft or final RFP has been released, also measure against the evaluation criteria.
Once you have completed the above, usually formatted as a table, then you can start applying the intelligence you’ve collected. At this stage you are likely to find overlap and redundancy. Start by categorizing and grouping the results. Once you’ve got similar items grouped together you are ready preparing how you will incorporate the intelligence into the proposal process.
First, identify action items. Are there any items that need further research? Should you reconsider a decision to prime or sub the opportunity? Should you modify your teaming strategies to better address (or incorporate) the competition?
Next, prepare statements of your strengths, defenses against you weaknesses, and “ghosts” that subtly show the weaknesses in your competition. These statements are how the exercise above actually makes it into the proposal. Finally, you should allocate the statements to the outline. This ensures that the statements are made at the appropriate times in the document.
The result is a proposal that shows your strengths, mitigates any weakness you have, and informs the evaluators of problems with the competition.