Founder and CEO of The Bid Lab, a bid consulting firm.
Covid-19 is changing aspects of society each and every day, and the RFP process is not immune. From project management to design and submission, clients’ needs during the pandemic are evolving.
Companies must deliver on new and changing expectations in an unprecedented time, which can be challenging for even the savviest and most experienced organizations. However, there are things you can do to rise above the obstacles your company may currently be facing. Below are some strategies to help you work more efficiently through the RFP process and secure a successful bid during this difficult time.
1. Expect a changing scope of work.
Keep in mind that your potential client’s scope of work may be in flux due to Covid-19. New addenda may be added, requiring updates to the proposal. For example, organizations may be asking for a description of your remote working abilities, sanitizing standards and/or employee health screening process. The novel coronavirus is causing us to prioritize safety standards in a way we never have before.
In order to be ready to answer all of the issuing organization’s questions and avoid blunders, always maintain ongoing communication with the bid offeror so that your team is aware of these changes as soon as they occur. Most RFPs have a contact person with whom you can ask questions or follow up.
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2. Invest in technology.
In order to keep up with these changes in your client’s scope of work, invest in technology that will help your company excel in a digital world. The RFP process requires ongoing communication, and your company can facilitate this by using digital tools. For example, you should have a range of platforms available for your clients to make virtual calls. Some video conferencing tools may work well with some operating systems but not others. To avoid these bothersome technical problems, always have a backup line of communication in place.
Occasionally, clients may prefer certain platforms or methods of communication that work well for them. Don’t forget to take into account these preferences as you’re crafting your response. For example, Jump Ahead Pediatrics, which works with my company, has found success using virtual tools to transform its business operations during Covid-19. Utilizing easy online conferencing tools, it made the “jump” from in-person therapy services to conducting teletherapy for children of varying ages.
3. Organize your SMEs.
As many companies are struggling with shutdowns and going fully online, it can be difficult to keep track of who is responsible for what information in a proposal. People are moving out of offices and working from home, disrupting the normal process of communication and delegation of responsibilities. This can cause confusion among your team and a delay in your work. To get ahead of this, revisit your list of SMEs to ensure that each team member understands his or her role in the RFP process and which deliverable(s) he or she is responsible for.
Ensure that your team members are informed, ready and available for virtual calls with a client. This not only speeds up your completion of the RFP and makes the process simpler for the client, but it also guarantees that you have access to the right information and the right staff at the right time.
4. Recognize increased competition.
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has resulted in unprecedented levels of competition when it comes to winning a bid. The business sector has been heavily affected, with the U.S. GDP decreasing 32.9% from the first quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2020. Government contracts are now more popular than ever, as the private sector is becoming increasingly uncertain.
As such, it’s now even more important to establish transparent relationships with clients, revisit quality assurance for your RFP process and take advantage of tools that will help you stand out among the competition. A visually-pleasing, relevant proposal is a must when it comes to winning a bid in this evolving business environment.
5. Demonstrate continuity.
Covid-19 has had devastating impacts on companies’ financial situations. Showing a potential client that you have continuity in your sector is essential. Your client wants stable and reliable companies to deliver on their promises. Demonstrate that you have the resources to provide the value clients need. Whether it’s through proof of revenue via financial statement overviews or proposing an innovative solution to a problem, prove that your company offers continuity regardless of external factors.
Reliability is a major asset in our changing world, and not something that every company can provide. Think about what makes your company unique and leverage your strengths appropriately during the RFP process to show your client you will be around to support them now and in the future.
6. Consider outsourcing your RFP process.
With all the constant changes Covid-19 is bringing to our world, the bidding process can be even more overwhelming and complicated than ever before. Working together as a team, which RFPs require, may be more difficult, especially with dispersed staff working from home and having limited availability. In the midst of these challenges, it may be beneficial to outsource your RFP work to a third party. This takes the burden off of your company, especially when time and resources are scarce.