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To Bid or Not to Bid? That Is the Question

When considering whether or not to pursue a procurement opportunity, there are a mix of factors -- some objective, others subjective -- to consider and weigh, such as the following:

  • Would you be able to earn a reasonable profit? While this consideration seems quite obvious -- performing a contract at a loss is not the economic outcome most of us can afford -- there are circumstances when pursuing an opportunity that may not be as financially rewarding as you normally desire is actually advantageous. Pursuing a financially smaller opportunity than you normally consider could be worthwhile when a win could help you expand your proven scope and breadth of services or be advantageous in other ways, such as providing proven experience at a high profile facility. Submitting a professional, complete proposal can also provide a thorough introduction and background of the scope and expertise of your company with an agency with which you want to establish a business relationship or increase the breadth of an existing relationship. Procurement opportunities can offer more than strictly economic potential.
  • Do you have proven experience and past performance for each of the service requirements? List all of the service/task/performance requirements. How does your proven experience and past performance relate to these requirements? Is your experience similar in size and scope to the proposed procurement? If there are service areas or requirements wherein your company does not possess relevant and proven experience and past performance, look to your key personnel and see who might possess relevant experience. You may also want to look to teaming partners and/or subcontractors to reflect proven experience in all key service/task requirements.
  • Do you meet any set-aside restrictions established for the procurement? For example, if the procurement is set-aside for (8)a firms, you must possess an 8(a) certification to submit a proposal as the prime contractor. If the procurement is set-aside for HUBZone firms, you must possess HUBZone certification to submit a proposal as the prime. If you do not meet any set-aside restrictions but are still interested in the opportunity, you will need to search out potential prime contractors who possess the required certifications and who would desire for you to participate as a teaming, partnering, and/or subcontracting member.
  • Do you possess or have access to the resources to perform the contract successfully if it is awarded to you? Consider the resources -- financial, administrative, legal, material, and human -- that will be needed for you to perform the contract if it is awarded to you. For example, if a performance bond is a requirement, verify that you have the necessary bonding capacity available. If you would need a start-up loan or line of credit to establish the contract after award, verify that these resources would be available to your company. If the procurement requires that the customer be able to pay you via credit card, if you cannot currently accept credit card payments, you would need to establish that capability prior to contract award -- and preferably have it already in place at the time of proposal submittal. Entering into a teaming, partnering, prime/subcontractor, or like relationship can reduce the burden of necessary resources more proportionately among participants.
  • How knowledgeable are you about the procurement and the customer agency? How long have you been monitoring this opportunity? Have you utilized FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), FedBizOpps (FBO), and like resources to learn more about the history of the opportunity and the customer agency? How familiar are you with the customer agency and their unique requirements and preferences? How knowledegeable are you about your potential competitors? What benefits do your company and proposed approach bring to the customer agency?
When you do make a "bid" decision, make every effort reasonable to put your best foot forward in the proposal so that, win or no win, you make a lasting and favorable impression on the customer agency -- an impression that will make a positive impact on your next submittal.

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