Starting the proposal outline
A detailed RFP will provide:
- Instructions for how to organize the proposal
- The evaluation criteria that will be used to assess the proposals, or at least a description of what’s important to the customer
- The requirements that your proposed offering should fulfill
The outline needs to reflect the structure that the customer expects and incorporate everything that the customer wants you to address.
Using a compliance matrix to complete your outline
A compliance matrix is a tool that helps you align the relevant requirements from the RFP with the section of the proposal where it should be addressed. A compliance matrix is basically a table with rows for proposal sections and columns for RFP sections.
Creating the outline and the compliance matrix go hand-in-hand. For each item in your proposal outline, the compliance matrix shows which RFP requirements are relevant. As you read the RFP, you discover requirements and decide where to address them within your outline. As you go along, you modify the outline until you have a place to address every requirement. The result is both your proposal outline, and a tool that shows which RFP requirements to address in each section.
Creating an outline and a compliance matrix is the first step in creating a Proposal Content Plan. Neither the outline nor the compliance matrix is sufficient on its own to describe everything that needs to go into winning a proposal. But they are a good start. The outline provides the structure, and the compliance matrix helps you understand what you need to do to be compliant with the RFP. A Proposal Content Plan takes that foundation and adds to it everything else you need in your proposal in order to win.