The Importance of Participating in Site Visits even if they are not Mandatory
Site Visits (SV) are components of particular importance in the bidding process. They’re usually held three weeks after the release of the request for proposal solicitation. It permits potential contractors weigh the compliance of the contract solicitation with their own long-term objectives and expectations. Depending on the requirements of the RFP, SVs attendance may be mandatory or optional. The purpose of this step is to allow prospects obtain a better understanding of the work required and gather quality information. All the details about the planning of a Site Visit is always stated in the solicitation documents, including the date, time and other attendance instructions.
Many contracting companies underestimate the usefulness of non-mandatory Site Visits, often because of miscomprehension of the solicitation complexity. Although you might be familiar with the site conditions, participation will encourage you to formally submit queries about any concern you might have, relating the requirements. Consolidated responses will be provided to you in the pre-proposal conference.
How will you benefit from the event attendance?
Participating in non-mandatory Site Visits will give you some advantages in the proposal writing process. You’ll be able to examine the site conditions, get broader knowledge about solicitation criteria and demands in order to improve your procurement planning stage. Thereby you will clarify all the doubts and be able to satisfy yourself and subcontractors of the apparent conditions no clearly reflected in the requirement section of the RFP. Event attendance will give you the ability to:
- Assess and confirm your ability to meet the proposal submission deadline
- Demonstrate your performing capabilities and compliance against the requirements of the award
- Obtain knowledge about general terms, and best administration practices
- Access to project familiarization
- Exchange information with all parties and resolve concerns
- Understand upcoming challenges and adapt a suitable plan
SV’s are preferable because they encourage the contractors to get informed about the obvious condition details. They will help you identify any requirement misconception; assess the acquisition strategy, policies, planning schedules and timeframes and requirement practicability; examine proposal development instructions, evaluation criteria, past experience and past performance assessment technique and other issues concerning the preparation process.
The Risks of Non-Participation
As an experienced proposal manager I can say that I’ve witnessed many companies being rejected due to one simple reason: assumptions. Avoiding site visits resulted in misunderstanding the complexity of the solicitation which led them to rejection of their offer. Site Visits are more than just familiarizing with the funding agency and auditing who your competitors are. It’s about the effort to assess all these elements in advance, and being able to raise certain issues in the pre-bid conference.
Nevertheless, identifying the right issues and raising them doesn’t imply that they will give you an advantage. There is a great chance that the agency that released the RFP will not give any explanation or additional information regarding the given conditions. However, considering all the facts, and based on my personal experience I would say that neglecting site visits, in the best case, will impact negatively your contract performance.