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Incumbents Must Implement a Winning Strategy

When one of your current contracts comes up for re-solicitation, as the incumbent, you may be tempted to think that your proven performance and experience with the contract provides all the edge you need to re-win the contract. However, as the incumbent, the evaluators will expect a much greater level of detail and specificity in your proposal when compared to those of your competitors.

As the incumbent, your technical/administrative and proposal development team members must work closely together to develop and implement a winning strategy:

  • Compare the new solicitation with your current contract and identify any changes. What do these changes signify? Do they reflect changes/advances in your industry? Do they reflect the requirements and methodologies you already employ? Do they indicate a desire on behalf of your customer to increase or decrease the current level of service? Does any wording or requirements in the proposal seem to be related directly to your performance as the incumbent?

  • Make the Project's technical library fully accessible to your proposal team. Your proposal team will need to evaluate current plans and procedures you have in place against the proposal requirements. Current plans may need to be revised in light of innovations, new contract requirements, new regulations, improved methodologies, and the like.

  • Honestly evaluate your current relationship with the customer. Are there any problems or performance issues that have arisen? Have these issues been addressed successfully? Have you taken preventive measures to prevent recurrence of any problems? Whether or not the proposal requests that you identify any such performance problems (and usually, such information is requested), be honest in your proposal in addressing such issues, even when they have been resolved successfully.

  • Identify any areas, methods, and/or technology you are able and willing to incorporate that would improve services. Clearly identify and include these new innovations in your proposal. Ideally, such improvements will not adversely impact price. If such innovations would relate to an increase in cost, if the solicitation does not forbid alternate/multiple proposals, consider providing an alternate proposal in addition to your primary one that will allow the evaluators to determine if the additional cost in exchange for the improved/additional services is a trade-off they are willing to accept.

  • Merely stating you are the incumbent isn't enough. The evaluators are only allowed to evaluate what is presented in the proposal in accordance with the evaluation factors. To the greatest extent possible within the proposal requirements, your proposal must detail your knowledge of and experience with the contract. Where permissible, you will want to include positive evaluations, letters of commendation, and the like you have received during your performance as incumbent, just as you should for the other relevant contract experiences you include-you can't assume that the evaluators are aware of any kudos you've received as the incumbent. You will want to discuss challenges you have met successfully during your performance, as well as any services you have provided that have gone "above-and-beyond" your requirements as contractor. Remember-the evaluators can only evaluate these items when you include them!

  • Always remember that evaluators expect more from an incumbent's proposal. Whereas a non-incumbent's proposal is usually solely based upon information provided in the solicitation and obtained through the site visit and pre-proposal conference, as the incumbent, the evaluators will expect to see your experience with and knowledge of the contract translate into a much greater level of detail. Any information you provide -- be it service or personnel schedules, listings of supplies and materials, personnel resumes, safety plans, property control plans, or the like -- must be detailed and specific to the contract to the greatest extent possible.

The greater level of detail necessary for a successful incumbent proposal may make the proposal preparation more time-consuming, but the additional effort, combined with a competitive price in your cost proposal, will make your proposal stand head and shoulders above those of your competitors.

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