How to Handle Page Limits: Tip #1

Page limits: They make life easier for evaluators, and help to separate the sheep from the goats, procurement-wise.  After all, those who are best at delivering a service or designing a product or building or software system are also best at explaining themselves succinctly, right?  Well, maybe.  Maybe not.  But whether you love ’em or hate ’em, page limits are more and more the way of government procurement, so it behooves bidders to get better at handling them.  Herewith, the first tip.

Let’s say the RFP asks any of the following:

  • Submit a preliminary project management plan – 10 pages
  • Describe your project experience – 2 pages/project
  • Explain your approach to risk management – 5 pages

And let’s suppose your experts are outraged!

After all, the company’s standard project management plan is 100 pages.  How can they possibly cut it to 10?

After all, the projects in question are worth tens of millions of dollars and involve, you know, rocket science.  How can anyone do justice to them in just 2 pages?

After all, the folks doing risk management (or quality control, or performance management, or logistics, or . . . ) each have five industry credentials.  Do you really think they can explain what they do in 5 pages?

Stop.  Breathe.  And focus.

Focus?  On what?

Forget what you want to tell the customer.  Forget what you think they need to understand about you.  Forget about all the push communication from the experts.

Flip it.

That is, pretend for a minute that you’re the customer, trying to select a contractor.

What would you want to know?

What factors would help you differentiate between bidders?

What facts or data or credentials or stories or concepts or principles would convince you to spend your money?

Now go and write those answers. Write what the customer is trying to pull.

And you know what?  It’s never a 100-page project management plan.  If it were, they would have, you know, given you 100 pages to write that very thing.

 

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