What follows in the next 10 articles is the shortened content of a training course I held last year at our company for a number of trainees on how to write winning proposals for MATOC or IDIQ contracts. Although the emphasis was on construction contracts, yet this training can be used in other sectors as well. I have tried to stay away from technical terms and jargon we use in proposal writing, and keep the writing simple so all those interested can benefit from it. I hope these articles are useful for both proposal writers as well as decision makers in construction and other industries who regularly participate in MATOC or IDIQ RFPs.
I have split the discussion into 10 sections as follows:
- General Points
- Technical Merit
- Past performance
- Past Experience
- Key Personnel
- Small business subcontracting
- Other Sections
Part 1 – General Points
Win/Loss of a MATOC Contract is Crucial to the Future of a Company
MATOC stands for Multiple Award Task Order Contract and IDIQ stands for Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity. MATOC contracts are usually more complex than IDIQs so we will concentrate on MATOC proposal writing with a note that the points covered can all be applied to IDIQ contracts as well.
In a MATOC contract, you will first compete to win the overall MATOC contract, becoming one of the awardees (usually there are a minimum of 3 awardees but I have seen MATOCs with awardees as high as 25). Once awarded, you will again compete with the other awardees in each of the task orders. The merit is that if awarded, you will have a substantial chance at getting contracts for the next 3 to 5 years, which is the usual duration of MATOC contracts. Conversely, if you lose a MATOC contract, your chances of landing at a contract in line with that diminishes for the next 3 to 5 years. Another words, win/loss in a MATOC contract can be crucial to the future of your company.
We Are Past the Selection & Qualification:
In this article, we are assuming that the selection and qualification of the opportunity has been done already. This phase is indeed one of the most important aspects of the bidding process and needs a separate string of articles to cover it.
On the one hand, if you shoot for something that is out of your capabilities or you have little chance of winning due to your competition or your own lack of qualifications, then you are wasting your time and resources in participating in it. On the other hand, if you don’t take chances and stay on a conservative course of acknowledging only your current capabilities, you are sawing the seeds of your company’s eventual downfall. This is the art of capture management which we will cover separately.
How is Awardee Selection Made?
Usually the offer required in a MATOC RFP has two parts:
- The general part (usually called the non-price factors) which is not specific to any project and requires you to present your company’s technical and managerial capabilities as well as past experience and performance.
- The specific part (usually called the seed project) on which you must present specific information and pricing. This is usually a fully developed request by itself that requires a complete proposal.
Selection is usually done by evaluating the non-price factors, plus the price given for the specific seed project. The combined points you get on the two parts will establish whether you are selected as an awardee or not. From the pool of the awardee, usually the company with the lowest price for the seed project is awarded that specific project as the first Task Order. (Although I have seen USACE put fictitious seed projects in their MATOCs as well.)
Read & Read More: Understanding the Requirements
My experience shows that the most important issue in a MATOC proposal is understanding what the RFP requirements are, period. It is obvious that this statement stands for any RFP. However, in a MATOC RFP, this is much more important because:
- Any mistake and shortcoming here means that you will lose a contract that spans for 3-5 years, not just one specific contract.
- Whereas in many other RFPs, the selection process is LPTA (lowest price technically acceptable) which means price is the deriving factor; in most MATOC RFPs, the selection process is Best Value with a trade-off between non-price factors and price. Therefore, more attention should be given to the requirements to ensure that the non-price factors which usually are given more weight are in compliance.
- I have seen many cases in which appeals on the decisions have been accepted because the proposal had complied with all the requirements thus making the case stronger. Don’t give excuses to the selection committee to set you aside.
With these said, we are now ready to delve into each part of the proposal. We will assume that the RFP requirement asks for all the sections listed in the Introduction but you might run into cases where a subset of these are required. Per my experience, USACE has usually the most stringent requirement but I think after reading through these articles, you can have a better idea on how a winning proposals can be developed, even for USACE.
(See my other articles at our blog at http://www.gdicwins.com/blog/)