8 Steps to Write an Impressive Technical Approach
Too often we see generic information used to address a project technical approach. Whether the approach is required as part of a design-build or bid-build project, a sample task order or a seed project on an IDIQ contract, many Requests for Proposals (RFPs), especially best-value RFPs will require offerors to demonstrate an understanding of the project scope by preparing a detailed technical approach. It is also typical for these technical approaches to be limited in response space; cue the 10-page (or less) limitation. Due to lack of time/understanding or poor planning, oftentimes offerors populate the technical approach portion of a proposal response with "canned" information rather than a tailored, scope-specific solution thereby missing the perfect opportunity to demonstrate key win themes or discriminators of their proposed work plan. To capitalize on this space, we have summarized eight key steps to creating an impressive technical approach.
Follow the RFP - The outline for your technical approach should systematically address all submission and evaluation criteria included in the RFP so it is easy for source-selection members to "check the box" for compliance. Be careful not to skip the evaluation criteria!
Include project-specific details - This is the time to be detailed! Do not simply recap the scope of work provided as the synopsis on www.fbo.gov. You're not fooling anyone! Set yourselves apart from the competition by demonstrating your understanding of the project through a work breakdown structure and/or sequencing information. Identify elements on the critical path, highlight long-lead items, point out areas for time/cost savings or potential challenges (see risk/mitigation below). Comprehensive technical approaches include details such as the approach to mobilization, identification of haul routes, plan for material delivery and staging areas, approach to construction phasing, plan for utility disruptions, as well as the schedule and approach to testing/commissioning. If known, identify key team members and/or subcontractors and discuss the history of the team working together thereby ensuring an integrated approach. All of these elements will contribute to your understanding of the scope and represent a high level of confidence to project success resulting in minimal risk to the client.
Connect to the schedule - If a schedule is required, make sure the narrative supports the graphic depiction. Check for consistency across key elements such as the Notice to Proceed (NTP) date, total duration, submittal review allowance, substantial completion date, inclement weather days and close-out/turnover phase.
Identify risks - Every project has its challenges as well as its opportunities. Use available space to identify potential risks and/or challenges as well as discuss the mitigation approaches that will be employed to avoid these pitfalls. This is also a chance to discuss potential value-engineering alternatives which can be tied to key performance indicators (KPIs) to deliver a project under budget, ahead of schedule or with added features thereby driving home best value!
Ensure compliance with the plans and specifications - Don't skip the plans or lengthy specification sections of an RFP! We know it’s more than a little light reading, but it is a critical element of the technical approach to ensure it supports rather than conflicts with the plans and specs. If the specifications are unclear or contradict the plans, submit a Request for Information (RFI) to ensure you have a clear understanding of the project requirements and expectations.
Ensure consistency - All references to key personnel, processes, meetings, etc. should be consistent with other areas of the proposal approach such as the management plan and organizational structure. For example, if the Quality Control (QC) Manager will also serve as the Site Safety and Health Officer (SSHO), ensure this dual-hatted role is referenced to perform the quality and safety inspections on definable features of work.
Utilize a subject-matter expert (SME) - If a project requires an engineering approach or a specialized system, engage an SME to ensure a thorough approach is given to critical scope areas. From a design sub-consultant to a specialty subcontractor, expert knowledge will go a long way in demonstrating your understanding of the project.
Conduct a separate review - Simulate the efforts of a source-selection committee by having a separate individual or group that was not involved in the preparation of the approach, review the draft. Many times, a fresh set of eyes will be able to point out a concept or deficiency that needs additional articulation in order to get the point across.
With hundreds of technical approaches under our belt, Meridian West can help with this process. Not only do we understand RFP submission and evaluation criteria to ensure compliance, but we can also help you identify win themes and discriminators to set you apart from the competition. Connect with us to find out more about our comprehensive proposal approach.