When pursuing government projects, you need to weigh your options carefully before you begin writing a response for an RFP. If part of the contract doesn’t match your company’s best interests or you can’t deliver on all the requirements, the smartest move may be to concentrate your resources elsewhere. So what types of questions should you ask yourself when deciding on writing a response for an RFP?
In the Go or No-Go decision-making process, here are some questions to consider:
1. Is the requested project response an RFP or an RFI?
If the project is an RFP, the government is looking to buy. However, if it’s an RFI, the government is requesting information about the market for the particular service or product. It’s possible that an RFI will turn into an RFP, so consider responding if your product or service sets itself apart from the market. The government will use the RFI information to put together a proposal and your RFP response may play an important part. However, don’t give away your crown jewels — mark any private information “proprietary”, otherwise the government will use the RFP information as they see fit.
2. Is the RFP requesting a product or service that fits your company?
It may seem like the more RFPs you respond to, the better your chances at winning contracts (like the lottery). However, the best strategy for writing a response for an RFP is to find the right fit and concentrate on the contracts that are a good fit for your company’s business focus. Passing up an opportunity that “sort of” fits your company’s business focus will free up your time to pursue other opportunities. Note that if you find an RFP that is a good match for your company but it seems like it’s been written with a specific company in mind, consider writing a response for the RFP anyway. If you demonstrate in your RFP information that you can offer similar products and tack on extra benefits (lower price, guarantee, etc.), you still have a possibility of winning.
3. Is the project funded?
Although an RFP is a sign that the government is looking to buy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the funds for the project are available. All you have to do is ask the purchasing office if the project is funded. Without funding, you may put a lot of time and effort into writing a response for an RFP when nothing may come of it. If you’re given RFP information indicating that there’s a reserve fund for the project, there is still no guarantee that you will see a contract. If a priority need arises, the government has the right to reallocate the funding to the prioritized project.
4. What are your marketing considerations?
How new is your product or service? Also, if you win the contract award, will it compromise other accounts or cost you an existing account?
5. What is your business relationship with the customer?
What is your business standing with the government buyer? Is it good or sustained?
If you’ve decided that you’re not going to pursue the project but you’ve already been getting RFP information from the contracting officer or buyer, it’s a good idea to send a letter or email note letting them know that you’re not writing a response for the RFP and the reasons why.