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RFP Outlines – Why Do You Need RFP Outlines for Proposals?

When it comes to the proposal writing process, parsing the RFP and determining the preliminary outline for your actual proposal is a key step. Parsing the RFP and establishing a proposal outline can give you a much clearer picture, providing you with the information you need to determine whether the proposal should be converted to an opportunity, or put in the No-Go pile.

Unfortunately, parsing the RFP can be a challenging process, especially for those companies and individuals that are relatively new to the world of the RFP, RFQ, RFI, RFB, and a host of other acronyms that are far too lengthy to mention here.

Hopefully, this article will give you a much better view of the RFP process, and how to generate concise, yet informative proposal outlines that give you a much better view and understanding of the overall process. It was once said that knowledge is power, and Zbizlink wants to help you to obtain the knowledge you need to become successful in the world of procurement and proposals.

What Is Parsing the RFP?

Parsing an RFP is the process by which you can take a large and often very complex document, and break it down into more manageable sections. When you parse the RFP you will have separate sections for the project overview, background, and all of the requirements that need to be responded to in the RFP.

Being pedantic is not a requirement if you want to be successful in the proposal writing industry, but it certainly does have some benefits. While the more common RFP will have everything broken down into sections for their requirements and the proposal, not all will.

Either way, drawing up a meaningful proposal can be challenging. It is just as important to understand the formatting and other requirements that are included in the RFP as it is to understand what is going to be written and how.

What Are The RFP Outlines?

Your RFP outline should provide you with the requisite template for successfully completing the proposal writing process. Word Processors such as Microsoft Office allow you to set up all of the different fonts, margins, and other basic formatting issues. However, Word also allows you to set up individual sections as are required from within the RFP.

Sections and sub-sections of your proposal outline should be titled the same way that they are in the original RFP documentation. Bracketed notations or comments may be used to reinforce formatting or other specifics.

This may include the limitations on pages, or even word counts, any licensing that is required, or other information that will be necessary to successfully complete the proposal writing process. If you elect to use this process, it is also a good idea to make some kind of notation as a reminder to whoever will be reviewing and approving the written, completed proposal.

Leaving these tell-tale signs in the final proposal could easily result in the proposal being summarily rejected by the issuer of the RFP. It happens more frequently than you may imagine, especially to people who are new to proposal writing and may not have these features turned on all the time in their word processors.

Why Do You Need RFP Outlines for Proposals?

The RFP gives you all of the information, but most notably perhaps, in terms of the government-issued RFP, these documents tend to be long and complex. Rather than going through each and every section, writing notes, and starting all over again, parsing allows you to break the RFP up into smaller pieces.

Creating an outline for successfully completing the proposal writing process involves laying out all of the different requirements in sections. These requirements may include special licensing that is required for the bid proposal or other factors that would normally not be a consideration when bidding for similar work in the private sector.

For the “Go/No-Go” decision-making process, having a completed proposal outline will allow you the opportunity to peruse the entire list of requirements, making special considerations where your company and your partners may be lacking.

Some of these special requirements may be easily overcome in a future selection process for partners, or there may be some requirements that are simply insurmountable. The proposal outline gives you a more concise overview of the requirements and allows you to more easily determine whether to actively pursue the bid or to refuse the bid and focus your efforts in other areas where you may have a better chance of success.

The outline also gives you a ready made foundation for the actual proposal writing process. Many corporations use proposal teams for this process, and having the outline allows you to assign different sections to the respective teams best suited to the tasks at hand.

What Do You Include In The RFP Outlines For Proposal Writing?

The first thing you should do is to establish the sections and subsections outlined in the RFP for the requested proposal. However, there are formats and templates that you may want to preview and explore before getting too deep into the proposal writing process, especially if you want to increase your chances of winning the proposal.

While the proposal response templates freely available online may not match up with the formatting demands of the RFP you are working with, it may give you some invaluable insight into the issuers and what they may be looking for. It is also a good idea to research the issuer as much as possible, and to look into their past experience and try to learn more about their expectations.

How Important Is Formatting In The Proposal Writing Process?

The required formatting when responding to an RFP is important. In fact, this will often be used as one of the first reasons to dispose of a proposal response. If the potential vendor cannot follow these instructions when it comes to creating a response, how are they going to be trusted in terms of the actual production of a product or the delivery of a service?

Fortunately at least, following these instructions and formatting requirements for the proposal response are much easier in the modern day of computers. There was a day when new typewriters or new components would have to be purchased in order to use a different font. Never mind manually creating the table of contents, or having to format the finalized proposal.

While the technological revolution has certainly been a great assistance to proposal writers everywhere, it is still not any insurance guaranteeing that you will increase your win rates with proposal responses. In order to improve your win rates, there are a combination of factors that you must put together, especially if you are part of the proposal management team, and responsible for the oversight of team members.

How Can I Increase My Success Rate With Proposal Writing?

As the procurement process shifts to a larger use of the Request For Proposal or RFP, it will become increasingly important for all sorts of companies to resort to proposal writing as a means to remain competitive. This can be seen as much in the private sector these days almost as much as it is in the public sector surrounding the issuance and selection process for obtaining government contracts.

Recent studies have shown that those companies that are using some type of automated process or software solutions for the proposal writing process, are able to better target their potential clients. Not only do these companies respond to a larger number of proposals, but they are also better able to target the RFP and focus more attention on those proposals they are more likely to win.

While the increase in bid proposal win rates vary, some companies that use automated software solutions for the proposal writing process have increased their win rates by anywhere from thirty to eighty percent. As we move deeper into the technological revolution, software solutions will become increasingly important for company growth and expansion in any area, but not least notably, in terms of those companies that rely on RFP responses and the proposal writing process.

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