One of the last things a contractor wishes to do is respond to a bid without a proper capture strategy and an effective competitor assessment. One of the most important elements of the competitive assessment is, of course, assessing who is in the strongest position to win the bid, and why. The competitive analysis is a process that helps you identify the “team to beat,” and create a competitive strategy to strengthen your capture and proposal efforts. This process puts you in a position to outmaneuver the top competition to win the bid.
The competitive assessment process involves developing a non-cost evaluation model, whose aim is to predict the ways a customer will review proposals and choose which competitor will win the award. This process can be done in several different ways.
Section M of the Request for Proposal (RFP) provides the various factors and subfactors the customer will use to evaluate the proposal and choose the winner. In the early stages of a procurement, however, there will most likely not be a section M available because the customer hasn’t released the RFP. In these cases, an straw-man evaluation model can be formulated using either a Draft RFP, an RFP from a previous contract, a similar RFP from other contracts from the same customer, or an industry day briefing that provides customer guidance on what they deem important when it comes to the competition. It’s important to always use whatever source is the most current.
Examine the language of the source to determine exactly what evaluation factors and subfactors the customer uses to assess a proposal. These typically include management approach, technical approach, price, and past performance, but may include other factors as well.
After the evaluation factors have been identified, they will need to be ranked in relative order of importance. The majority of government agencies use color or adjectival ratings when it comes to evaluating proposals. This provides the customer maximum flexibility when it comes to selecting an awardee instead of relying on a quantitative number. When it comes to using an evaluation model for our purposes, we want to assign a quantitative point value. This enables us to gain clear visual of how the competitive field stacks up and how you fair against the competition. Calculating the numerical score for each competitor will show you the highest score and help identify your competitor’s strengths and weakness, and identify key strategies you may need to win the bid. Tracking these point values is a way to mirror the customer’s evaluation factors, and is a vital part of creating an effective evaluation model.
The next step in building an evaluation model is adding information about the competition to judge where they will most likely stand. This part requires an in-depth analysis of the competitors’ solutions, capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and strategies regarding the opportunity.
A solid understanding of the customer and the requirements is key to creating an accurate and valuable evaluation model.
An eval model doesn’t just give you competitive intelligence, it also helps you have a deeper understanding of your firm. The eval model can tell you about potential weaknesses in your internal capabilities that may prevent you from winning the bid. You may find that you need to team with other companies or adjust your strategy accordingly.
Remember that eval models can vary greatly depending on the opportunity and, as you learn more about the competition and your own capabilities, should be continuously updated throughout the procurement process.