Solicitation Mechanics, Part 1 The First Pass (RFQ/RFP)

document mess

A solicitation hits your desk.

At this point, I hope you and your team are in the endgame phase of your pursuit of this project, which could have started over a year prior to the release. You and your team have built a relationship with the client and their perception is that your firm is a good fit for their project. If not, Ill be musing about that in future posts.

Extracting Pertinent Details

The first pass should be a 10-30 minute exercise with the goal of alerting your core leadership of the release and as a brief summary of details. Understanding that the steps below are from a construction manager’s perspective, your key elements my vary.

  1. Timeline—Extract all dates onto a temporary text document or spreadsheet.
    1. Look for dates that conflict.
    2. Calculate the time allotted for asking questions and completing the response. Do any holidays, events or key staff vacations fall during this time?
    3. Identify items that are not included in the timeline but may be critical to decision making.
  2. Project Scope—Extract the major portions of the scope of work.
  3. Budget—Extract the announced budget and any details on funding or funding issues (i.e., may break project into multiple phases). That said, you should already know this
  4. Delivery Method—Extract the delivery method.
  5. No Contact Policy—Critical for those member of your team that spontaneously react.
  6. Other Entities—Extract a list of all other entities referenced in the solicitations.
  7. Pass/Fail Criteria—Are there any pass/fail criteria included?
  8. Long-lead items (LLIs)—Review the requested deliverable.
    1. Do any of these require coordinating with other departments within your firm or other partner firms?
    2. Financials—Are financials required? If so, what specifically are they asking for (e.g., assets and liabilities, income statement, ratios). Have any of these types of requests posed an issue in the past?
    3. Bonding—Do the bonding requirements seem out of the ordinary?
    4. Insurance—Do the insurance requirements seem out of the ordinary?
    5. Signatures and the Company Seal—Do any documents require a signature from a specific officer in your company or your corporate seal?
    6. Litigation—Are litigation details required? If so, how is it worded (i.e., is it worded in a manor that requires a lengthy response.
    7. Project Details—Are there details requested that you do not typically provide and may be difficult to gather from your field team.

Crafting Your First Pass Summary

Now that you have the basic details extracted from the solicitation, the next step is to craft a concise message to your core leadership. If you look at a short four or five paragraph newspaper article, you will noticed that information is provided in the order of importance. This Associated Press Style of writing is based around the understanding that a publisher may choose to use part of your story and a reader may only read the first few paragraphs. Although your story may not flow well, you want to ensure the most important details pass to the reader.

Using simple bullets in an email, provide information in the order of importance. Consider what information is pertinent to the audience.

My first pass summary emails start with:

  • Project: INSERT NAME
  • Client: INSERT NAME
  • Location: INSERT CITY, STATE
  • Value: $INSERT
  • Scale: INSERT SF
  • Delivery Method: INSERT

If the project name does not give you a good understanding of its type, I append it to do so.

After these quick bullets, I provide the timeline. Be consistent. I prefer to use YYMMDD TT:TT

  • Timeline
    • 150513 RFP released
    • 150520 Last day to submit questions
    • 150529 Proposal due
    • 150610 Shortlist
    • 150617 Presentation/Award
    • 150901 Construction NTP
    • 161004 Substantial Completion

After the basic details, including the timeline, I place a break in the bullets and then provide additional information.

You may have better odds attracting someone busy to read this first portion versus placing all of your content together, which may appear to be excessive.

After the break, I provide the following:

  • No Contact Policy: Yes, all communication through the client’s RFP manager
  • Scope of work: INSERT BRIEF SUMMARY
  • Potential Issues:
    • Delivery method may change to design-bid-build
  • Action Items:
    • Schedule Go/No-Go Meeting

You now have the basic details to provide to your core leadership team and have provided them in a concise format. Stay tuned for an overview of my Second Pass workflow, which covers detailed review, distribution of information, and getting your team rolling.