In this cast, we provide an overview of the Request for Information (RFI), the Draft Request for Proposals (DRFP) and the Request for Proposals (RFP). Contracting Officers use all of these in different ways and at different times for a variety of acquisitions. In this cast, we provide some insights from our experience on when and how to best use these tools. We also provide industry with some understanding of when they should, and should not, reply to each. This topic straddles the Market Research Zone and RFP Zone. Since we had a lot to cover, this session ran almost 30-minutes J.

Zone:Zone 2 and Zone 3

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The topic of “Federal government contracting” is huge.  It’s too huge, we decided, to just start creating our Contracting Officer podcast sessions(on a wide array of topics)without some sort of structure. To address this, we separate the sessions into groups to align them with the chronological phases of the government acquisition process. We call these phases theAcquisition Time Zones. These Time Zones help our listeners understand the content on each podcast session by knowing where it fits in the overall buying process.The Time Zones are, in chronological order:

The Requirements Zone

The Market Research Zone

The Request for Proposal (or “RFP”) Zone

The Source Selection Zone.

This podcast session gives a brief overview of these Time Zones. We will cover each Time Zone in more detail in future sessions as well.

Time Zone:All

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Click Here to Read This Podcast Transcription

One often-overlooked difference between the federal market and the commercial market is that federal market sales are won more by process than by relationships. Contracting Officers (COs) cannot buy based on relationships alone. Relationships matter (see FAR Parts 3 and 9), but relationships are usually not the most important factor. The relationship is 20% of the decision. The other 80% is the competitive process.

Compare this to the commercial market. Here the ratio is reversed. Our relationship with a company is often 80%, or more, of our decision to buy from them. The other factors such as price and past performance do matter, but not nearly as much as our relationship with the seller. How did you selected your doctor, your homebuilder, your banker, your car dealer, your airline, your computer, your grocery store? Was the decision to buy from a particular company driven by relationships with friends, customers, or because you bought from them before? I bet so.

Understanding this Relationship-to-Process ratio in the government market is key to winning. The relationship you build with an agency, a program manager, or even a contracting officer will only get you so far (about 20%). You win in the other 80% (the competitive process). Even on existing contracts, regardless of how good the incumbent’s relationship is with the customer, the CO must eventually re-compete it.

Both relationships and process matter. Just be sure to get your ratio correct. You will win more often by aligning your time and resource around 80% process and 20% relationships.

Time Zone:2 & 3