Implementing a Task Order proposal process: Having a repeatable Task Order proposal process is CRITICAL
Larger companies have the resources and funds to maintain separate proposal centers designed to respond to the various types of bids, such as recompete proposals, strategic bids, and quick Task Order responses. You may assume this advantage also makes bidding Task Orders easier and places less strain on their ability to bid. That is not necessarily true. There are certain aspects of pursuing the Task Orders that affect large and small bidders alike:
- Generally there is a short turnaround time between release of the Task Orders request and proposal submission, typically 15 days or less. An established proposal process designed around a 30-day schedule needs to be compressed into a few days.
- It isn’t unusual for many Task Order Responses to be released on a given day, perhaps up to 25 or 30. All of these requests must be reviewed and evaluated to quickly determine the probability of win and to decide which to consider bidding. If a company has a spot on more than one contract vehicle, the number of Task Order requests they receive multiplies. Pursuing them will put a strain on any capture management and proposal management resources.
But there is some good news associated with this association:
- You already won a contract on the IDIQ. The customer reviewed your (and your teammates’) technical and management solutions, processes, key personnel, past performance, and pricing, and decided you have the experience and qualifications to do the work.
- You already know who your competition is. You are going up against the other primes with awards on the contract vehicle.
- You have some insight into the customer managing the contract vehicle, including their purpose, goals, scope of work, functional areas, hot buttons, concerns, biases, and other critical issues. However, that customer, while holding the contract vehicle, may not always be the customer managing the Task Order. It is still important to continue marketing your team and capabilities to customers before the Task Order request is released.
Taking all that into consideration, it is possible to implement an abbreviated proposal process that still hits all the usual milestones and enables you to submit a high-quality and competitive proposal. In fact, the first 48 hours after release of the Task Order request are important. Success here lays the groundwork for success throughout the rest of the process. During this time, you must complete the following tasks:
- Make a final bid/no-bid decision. Ensure required staff in Business Development, Capture, Proposal, Contracts/Pricing, and Operations have input into the decision.
- Evaluate the capabilities of your teammates to determine if participation in the bid by one or more subcontractors is critical to winning. Give the subcontractor(s) 24 hours to review the Task Order request and get back to you with a bid decision. You may be ready to bid, but if that subcontractor with the niche skill set can’t support you, your probability of winning just went down.
If you have decided to bid the opportunity, there are other ways you can implement repeatable process steps to save time:
- Create a standard proposal template for the Task Order responses, and keep it with your other ID/IQ artifacts. Generally, the required structure of a Task Order proposal requested on a contract vehicle is similar from one bid to another. In fact, usually many sections will repeat from proposal to proposal, such as an introduction to your team, an understanding of the requirements, your management approach, or qualifications of key personnel.
- The more material you can reuse from one proposal to another, the better. For example, in your IDIQ proposal, you provided an organization chart that included your program management structure. That management structure has to now flow down to the TO level. In each proposal, the names and titles in the boxes may change slightly, but the overall structure will remain the same. This overall structure translates to a template of an org chart you can use in every TO proposal submitted. As you bid more and more Task Orders, your repository of these artifacts will grow and make it easier to identify reuse material.
- Identify specific points of contact within your team. Have each subcontractor identify one or two people who interact with the prime. It helps to avoid miscommunication when there is a limited number of people in the loop. Within your organization, also identify who is the go-to person for activities such as pricing, technical solution development, or production support.
- Use an automated system to create a virtual workspace for your proposal team. Having this workspace allows you to request and collect data from your subcontractors, makes it easy for writers to collaborate with each other, and enables the color team members to review the proposal documents at the same time.
- Be disciplined. When you only have a short time to prepare and submit your proposal, there is no margin of error. A missed deadline, for example, could literally be the difference between submitting and no bidding. It is critical that everyone involved in proposal development adhere to the schedule and deadlines.
Do you have any other techniques you have applied to successfully implement a Task Order proposal process and want to share? Let us know!
– The Octant Best Practices Team