It is no secret that the end of the fiscal year (EOFY) for U.S. Government agencies and commands can be pure and unadulterated “procurement madness.” Every budgeted and unused dollar must be obligated before that fiscal year (FY) clock runs out, and that means solicitations for the upcoming FY are released in droves.
If you sized your contract, capture, and proposal management teams based on the proposal activity spike that happens every August and September, you would have a bench warmed by second and third strings year-round. Carrying that overhead is not an efficient way to operate a team. So what can you do to avoid getting sucked into this “madness”?
Five Tips to Avoid the End of Fiscal Year Madness
As August knocks on the door, here are five suggestions to make this season more manageable:
1. Establish and maintain a Past Performance Database (PPDB)
- Cleared job or not, your team should have a sanitized and UNCLASS database of contract awards and Task Orders that serves as a “quick reference” for your team.
- The best PPDBs are structured and designed in a searchable way so that writers can easily find relevant work based on NAICS, customer, dollar value, and type of work. That means the PPDB contains not just the contractual details like contract type, value, and period of performance, but also descriptive write-ups of each contract’s scope and technical tasks.
- The best PPBDs also prioritize substance ahead of style. Updating contractual information before you get busy will help you preserve your sanity and prepare better write-ups. As we move into digital document submission, information that is “accurate and accessible” is better than “perfectly designed but dated.”
2. Standardize the boilerplate content for your proposals
- The EOFY is not the best time to change your content or try out a random new theme or voice. Now, please do not misunderstand – we are not trying to kill innovation or creativity – but the middle of the busy season is not the time to throw out your proven plays and try to recreate reusable content from scratch.
- Federal Government procurements must follow Federal Acquisition Regulations, which are very prescriptive when it comes to form and content. Investing a moment now to review and/or update all your standard materials (like Reps and Certs or your Quality Control Plan) will ensure efficiency down the road when you need to use that content over (and over, and over) again in your proposals.
- Just like with your PPDB, ensure that all your boilerplate materials are current and available to all hands in a common network drive or collaboration site where you can easily manage changes and updates across the team at large.
3. Conduct a Bid-No-Bid (BNB) review for everything you would like to pursue
- It might be tempting, but now is not the time to deviate from process discipline just because you are crazy busy. On the contrary, it is even more important that you exercise discipline and observe process compliance to make sure you are maximizing your resources.
- Consider using external Subject Matter Experts as an extension of your team. Hiring external support will not grant you infinite resources or time, but it can give you access to an objective, qualified, and in some cases a cleared third party who can help bring important perspective to your BNB reviews. Saying “no” to the opportunities that are wrong for you can save you thousands of dollars in associated proposal preparation costs, but saying “yes” to the right investments can bring in millions of dollars by making sure you put your best foot forward on the jobs you are best suited to pursue.
4. Streamline your internal proposal processes
- Sometimes in our efforts to refine and perfect processes, we inadvertently introduce inefficiencies (think multiple reviews or resource choke points). Look at your proposal development process: which steps actually help you produce a better proposal? Are there any areas where you could streamline steps or trim requirements? Can you collapse reviews or move approval checkpoints so that you still observe all requirements and keep up with the RFP onslaught without sacrificing quality?
- Keep in mind, falling back on the comfortable “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset is not always the best option (and it’s hardly ever the most efficient option). If you always get through the season unscathed, then perhaps you have mastered the processes, or perhaps your team is one RFP away from needing a strait jacket to deal with the “madness.”
- Once the season has passed, consider making your abbreviated process the new normal. If it works in less steps, then keep it!
5. Have a bench of proposal management SMEs standing by
- Even if you are the world’s most dedicated and disciplined Capture Manager, you must be prepared to “bob and weave” when the solicitation comes out. As we like to remind our teams, no matter how prepared or advantaged you think you are, “no plan survives first contact” – so you should expect that a handful of surprises, shortfalls, or shifts can change your pursuit plans.
- When that happens, embrace the madness. Prepare as much as you can, but make sure that you have a reliable capture and proposal management partner who can help with all your last-minute pursuits that pass the BNB gauntlet. Do not pass on any solicitation that is squarely in your area of expertise and a target for growth simply because your processes or resources are lacking, or the general chaos of the season has you too disorganized to respond.
EOFY is “procurement madness” but there are those who thrive helping your team bid cleared jobs. Talk with them now!