Cornerstones to Proposal Success: Compliance

Not meeting Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements is the most prevalent reason used by evaluators to reject proposals. Therefore, meeting each and every requirement specified in a RFP is critical to a winning proposal. How do we ensure compliance? By using a compliance matrix.

A compliance matrix correlates each RFP requirement with the specific proposal section where the requirement is addressed. The matrix assists proposal evaluators in determining proposal compliance with RFP requirements. The bigger and more complex the project the more important a compliance matrix becomes. The compliance matrix is unique for each proposal because each RFP is unique.

Many different tools can be used to generate a compliance matrix and since the matrix usually takes the form of a table, generally the matrix is produced in MS Word or MS Excel. The benefit of using MS Word is that the matrix is 'native' to the word processing application that is most likely being used to prepare the response. The benefit of using MS Excel is that the information placed in the matrix can be sorted and filtered to focus on specific requirements or a sub-set of requirements. Adopting a hybrid MS Word and MS Excel approach to generating and leveraging the matrix is a powerful approach that helps you leverage the matrix to its fullest extent. The downside of this approach is that it is time consuming. Nonetheless, the benefits to be gained, especially for more involved RFP requirements, normally outweigh the downside.

In a hybrid MS Word and MS Excel approach to building a compliance matrix, the requirements are originally inputted in MS Excel; they are then filtered and ordered to create different cuts of the information; and, once the matrix preparation is complete, the requirements are reversed into MS Word and drive outline creation. A list of fields to be tracked in the matrix is the following:

Compliance Matrix Field Description
ID a unique identifier for the requirement
RFP SECTION the section of the RFP the requirement appears in
RFP PAGE the page of the RFP the requirement appears on
TOPIC brief summary of the topic of the requirement
REQUIREMENT the full text of the requirement
PROPOSED VOLUME the response volume the requirement will be addressed in
OUTLINE LEVEL 1 the level one section heading the requirement will be addresses in
OUTLINE LEVEL 2 the level two section heading the requirement will be addresses in, if any
OUTLINE LEVEL 3 the level three section heading the requirement will be addresses in, if any
PAGE LIMIT page limit for the section
EVALUATION CRITERIA the evaluation criteria that are applicable to the requirement
OWNER who is responsible for the section where the requirement will be addressed

Your efforts to develop a compliance matrix are sure to pay off.


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