Better RFP Responses & Management
Term: Para-by-Para Response

Term: Para-by-Para Response

A proposal methodology requiring responses to each SOW paragraph, rather than the production of plans and functional descriptions of how the Work will be done.

Excessively tedious to write, edit, review, and evaluate.

Not seen much these days in the sense of a formal requirement, but damnably difficult to get rid of at the informal level. Every executive or proposal-management consultant has a story about having been penalized by evaluators for *not* responding to every SOW line item, even when this was not specified. The low-risk approach is thus seen as responding para-by-para anyway, in addition to meeting the actual response requirement.

Clients have it in their hands to prevent this:

Simple, eh? But I’ve never seen it done . . .



  1. Jim Taylor

    I have a correspondent (Isabel, I’m sure you can guess who) who likes to respond to my missives para by para. Even sentence by sentence. Because he has started by splitting things apart, he expects me to do the same with his response, to debate it line by line… which splits it up even more. The whole discussion eventually becomes too unwieldy to continue.
    Sometimes it’s better to skip the differentiation and look for the integration.
    Jim T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim T – Yes, or the unifying thread that runs through it, which speaks to the underlying/overarching themes. There’s a “para-by-para on steroids” bidding format that requires the client to spell out every task, and the bidders to assign time to each (down to, like, 15 minutes). Past tedious. And only good for super-mature bidding environments where the work has been contracted out for years (and is, therefore, well defined and documented) and the aim is to squeeze out the last dollar. Where a client wants a company to take on some risk and handle unforeseen situations, there has to be some wiggle room. In those situations, it helps to understand how a company works overall, not how they prepare minutes for monthly joint meetings.

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