Better RFP Responses & Management
Advice to Procurement Professionals: Be clear

Advice to Procurement Professionals: Be clear

It’s a simple question: Do you want bidders to respond to every line item of your statement of work and/or draft contract in their technical proposals?

Yes, Please

If you do, then say so somewhere in the Instructions to Bidders, maybe like this:

Bidders shall respond to every SOW and/or draft contract line item somewhere in their technical proposal. We recommend cross-referencing these line items against the response instructions (and submitting said cross-reference with the Table of Contents) so that topics are addressed where they make sense, so that nothing is missed, and so that evaluators can quickly look up responses to specific SOW and draft contract line items.

You might even give them a cross-reference table to be completed with the appropriate proposal references, just so that everyone does the same thing.

Good God, No!

If you don’t want to see responses at this level of granularity – if, instead, you want to see high-level management or operational plans and examples of relevant experience that demonstrate bidders’ ability to do similar work – then say so, maybe like this:

Bidders shall provide the responses specified in the Instructions to Bidders.  For greater clarity, bidders shall NOT respond to every SOW and draft contract line item.

Whether it’s Yes or No, Be Precise

Don’t give hand-waving instructions like this:

Bidders shall follow RFP numbering exactly in their responses and responses shall be complete.

For bidders, the RFP is the whole thing: the actual RFP and all its attachments, including the SOW and draft contract.  So some folks on the proposal team are always sure that this sort of vague instruction is code for “Address every line item of the whole RFP somewhere in your proposal.”  If what you mean is that the response should be numbered in accordance with the RFP’s Instructions to Bidders (a perfectly reasonable requirement but one that should actually go without saying), then say just that:

Bidders shall number their responses in accordance with the numbering in the Instructions to Bidders.


Don’t say this either:

Show how your solution addresses SOW requirements.

For bidders, the obvious and safest response to such a requirement is to address every SOW line item in painstaking (and painful) detail.  If what you mean is that the response should show how some specific objective or deliverable is satisfied, then specify a meaningful objective or deliverable for every section of the response.