Developing a Rapid Response Capability to Win More and Maintain Focus

Nov 15, 2018

The IDIQ isn’t going anywhere. In fact, due to budgetary strife, changes in administration, and the rise and fall of cost-plus and LPTA-type awards, the IDIQ is a comforting constant. Spending on IDIQ vehicles has remained steady in since 2011. Small businesses thrive on IDIQ vehicles. Winning one can be a bellwether for future success.

That success depends on three factors:

  • Your ability to rapidly respond to proposal requests with compelling, compliant responses
  • Managing the heavy flow of task orders without over-taxing your personnel
  • Not falling down the IDIQ rabbit hole, losing sight of your strategic pipeline

In this series, the Rapid Response Rabbit, we will explore the challenges and triumphs of developing a rapid response proposal capability.

But, Proposals is Proposals

Sure, I have heard that too. I’ve maybe even said it once or twice. Proposals is Proposals and Running is Running right? Well, Sort of.

When we talk about the difference between a Full and Open proposal and a Rapid Response Proposal, we take a few key things into consideration:

  • Length of time to respond
  • Total contract value
  • Source of opportunity
  • Pre-work completed

It’s all too easy to decide that Rapid Response means: “We don’t have a lot of time, we just need to do this faster”. However, that the reality is more complex. We should consider the careful positioning and preparation that go into a full and open bid to be part of the bid process.

We must consider any effort with a truncated overall response time to be Rapid Response. I’ve been working in a rapid response shop for most of my career, whether in a designated role at a large business or by default as a proposal manager in small businesses. Lessons I’ve learned and pit falls I’ve seen prompted me to start a company focused on helping contractors make the most of their IDIQs.

Winning in a Rapid Response environment takes more than speed. It requires enabling technology, the right people, and disciplined processes.

I’ve Heard This Before

If you have ever written a proposal for a project that needs managing you have probably touted your people, processes, and technologies. If you’re experienced at winning, you tailor those to the standard – using only boilerplate – simply doesn’t work in real life.

Over and over again, I see people fall into classic rapid response rabbit holes by applying the same methods to rapid response as they do to open procurements. These issues are not only relatively easy to overcome but entirely avoidable with the right planning and attention.

This series will focus on those rabbit holes and how to avoid them (or find your way out). Welcome, reader, to the Rapid Response Rabbit.

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