I’m compliant. What more can I do to win?

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The difference between compliance and responsiveness and how to achieve both

Compliance and Responsiveness

In large bids, the amount of content, data, and information that comes in an RFP is huge. Handling so much content is cumbersome. The proposal manager must read the entire RFP and understand its requirements. It is hard enough to read and understand one big RFP. Sometimes, the proposal manager receives multiple RFPs, all at the same time. They must understand the requirements of each independent RFP without getting confused.

But without a professional approach to proposal management, confusion ensues, and so does chaos. Somehow, the proposals are delivered, but they seldom win. There is a good reason for this: They are simply not compliant and responsive.

Most proposals that make it to the second round of an evaluation process are compliant. A few proposals are responsive. Even fewer proposals are compliant and responsive, and those are the ones that win. It is crucial that we know the difference between “Compliance” and “Responsiveness.”

Compliant Proposals

Compliant proposals meet the customer’s stated needs and requirements.

Some examples of what shows “compliance” in a proposal are given below:

  • Adhering to the schedule mentioned in the RFP
  • Adhering to the order in which the customer has requested the proposal to be laid out
  • Answering all the questions in the RFI
  • Responding to each of the RFP requirements

One great way to ensure compliance is to create a compliance matrix. The compliance matrix is a radically important part of the proposal development process. Always create a compliance matrix irrespective of the size of the bid or its due date. The table below is an example of a compliance matrix.

Compliance Matrix Compliance (Yes, No, Partial) Comments Page #
Date of submission
Delivery Address
Person to Contact
Number of pages
Content Sequence
Requirement #1
Requirement #2
Requirement #3

The compliance matrix must be created in the beginning of the proposal development process. Creating the compliance matrix in the early stages of the proposal development process ensures that everyone who is working on the bid is aware of the compliance factors.

It must be a live document that is updated throughout the proposal process. If the customer sends an amendment, an appendix or an additional requirement via email, the compliance matrix must be updated.

You can also include the compliance matrix in the proposal response which tells the customer in which page of the response document their concerns have been addressed. It will act as a checklist for both you and your evaluators to make sure that you have complied with all the stated needs and requirements in the RFP.

Responsive Proposals

Responsive proposals, on the other hand, meet the customer’s unstated needs. They don’t just give information to the customer. They give value. These unstated needs are the underlying reasons behind the customer’s articulated needs and problem statements in the RFP.

Some examples of what shows “responsiveness” in a proposal are given below:

  • Showcasing that you understand the customer’s business and industry
  • Using language in your proposal that the customer can relate with
  • Showing empathy to the customer’s pain points and addressing their underlying reasons
  • Helping the customer understand the benefits of your solution and not just its features

Finding out these unstated needs and reasons behind the RFP takes a considerable amount of research. To make your proposal more responsive, the proposal development team needs to perform thorough mining through market intelligence. They must collect notes from the meetings with customers. They must sift through annual reports. In developing a strategy, they must involve other personnel in your company who had worked with the customer before and understood them.

Often, there is an overwhelming amount of information that comes from this kind of research. And the proposal development team may be misled to believe that all this information is equally important. The development team must know how to curate and find information that matters. Otherwise, the hunt for unstated needs will distract them from compliance. Like we mentioned before, winning proposals are both responsive and compliant. If a proposal is only responsive, it will fail to even qualify for the next round.

If you have a tool that can help you track and manage compliance automatically, it gives you more time to enhance responsiveness. Using Zbizlink, you can easily track and manage compliance requirements of the customer. All you need to do is to upload an RFP document to Zbizlink. The tool automatically fetches basic compliance criteria.

It helps you save a lot of time. That way, you can spend more time building a proposal that exhibits responsiveness and empathy, without compromising on compliance. Get compliant and responsive with Zbizlink today!

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