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How to Respond to a Government RFP

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This video illustrates how Proposal Kit is used to respond to government RFPs. This also works for any RFP response or complex document you need to assemble based on instructions you are given. This video shows how to analyze an RFP to pick out what major topics need to be talked about. That list of topics is then turned into a list of Proposal Kit chapters that are assembled into a custom Word document to match the RFP.

Read this related article: How to Write a Response to a Government RFP

Proposal Pack HelpWatch this related video: How to Write an RFP Response

Here are some related samples:
Here are some related templates:

In this video we're going to illustrate how to respond to a government RFP using Proposal Kit. Now it doesn't have to be a government RFP. This will actually work for any RFP or any time you need to create a proposal where you need to provide a more specific layout.

Now we have hundreds of design themes at Proposal Kit. We're going to illustrate this using the plain design pack called Proposal Pack for Any Business. You could also use the Proposal Pack for Government Grants.

Those are our two packages that are the most conservative looking and do not have graphics and color schemes embedded ahead of time. And also the chapter headers since they are all text–based are the easiest to customize which is going to be a common thing you have to do in responding to an RFP with a set of instructions. Now you could use any of our graphic design theme Proposal Packs however you might have to do a little more work to get the chapter headers customized if you need to customize the chapter headers.

So we will illustrate this using a very minimal design change with just some colors and a logo. So in the Preferences, and there are other videos that will describe this. And so in Custom 1 in the Logos and Graphics Preferences screen click the Browse button and then just browse to your company logo.

It should be around half an inch to 3/4 of an inch high and wide to fit on the Title Page. All right so we have browsed to and selected our own graphic. We have the for Any Business design theme selected which is the plain design pack.

Everything will just be black and white text and in the Edit Style screen we're just going to change the color scheme from shades of grey. It will add a little bit of color in here to match that custom logo and the logo were using is in shades of blue and green. Now we have a couple minor graphic changes and color changes.

Now the process of creating a document is going into the Document Projects button and this is what you do for any document you create in the Wizard. The project name you can just give this a title. It's just for you to search for in the future in the project lists.

Notice Custom 1 has been auto selected as the Title Page header graphic since we set up a custom graphic in the Preferences. It picks that up and just to speed things up we're going to turn off the Excel Dynamic Spreadsheet Linking. So whenever you're going to create a document you add a project and to select all the chapters you're going to go into the Pick Documents screen.

And almost all documents are going to start with a Title Page and they'll have an ending Back Page you'll add a Cover Letter. We know this is going to be a long document so we're just going to add a Table of Contents. Now everything else between the Table of Contents and this Back Page are going to be all the body pages we need to pick for the RFP response or proposal, whatever we're writing.

So this is where you need to be able to map all of the things that are asked for in an RFP to chapters that we have in the Proposal Kit. Now there's two thousand–plus chapters in the library to pick from. You see the top 40 most common ones on the screen here but using all these dropdowns and the Search by Name tab you can get to all the thousands of chapters.

Now we just happen to have an RFP instruction list here that we got from a customer of ours that we did this process with and we're just going to illustrate that same process we worked with them to show you in this video. Now RFP instructions are going to come in many forms, there's no standards. Every agency is going to have a different set of instructions.

Every proposal, every RFP could be different. Whoever writes up the instructions is going to have written them up their own way so you just have to read through any instructions you get and pick through the wording and kind of come up with a list of all the chapters. Now this proposal instruction document is nicely laid out.

You know they won't all be this easy to follow. Now we've taken the [Acrobat] yellow highlighter tool here and we've highlighted in yellow all the key phrases that we picked out that sounded like they'd be good chapter headers. And mostly it just happened to be the header text that they wrote into the instructions.

So Overview, the Contract Type, Period of Performance and so on. And as we scroll down this instruction list you'll see we highlighted a bunch of words just to give us a starting map that we're going to turn into a list of actual chapters in the Proposal Kit. Since different people were writing these instructions they're just coming up their own phrases.

So I'm not going to be finding exact matches to chapter headers but because Proposal Kit has thousands of chapters we're going to be able to find matching topics to put together a complete list of chapters to match this RFP layout. Now RFP instructions sometimes they'll give you forms that they want you to include in the proposal. And there's ways to do that.

You can either add empty blank pages into the proposal and then paste in forms. Doing that sometimes can cause page margin issues and so on. So sometimes assembling all the pieces in PDF format is easier than assembling external documents into your proposal document via Word.

So you might have to figure out the best way to assemble the whole thing based on the RFP you were given and extra content you may have been given to include. Because we've had so much time with the Proposal Kit we put this whole thing together. It's pretty quick for us to see how we're going to map these phrases so someone who has never used Proposal Kit before, never done this before, you might spend a little more time just looking around the screens in the Wizard and trying to come up with ways to find templates to match your topics.

You don't have to get these exact because you're going to be replacing the body content of the Proposal Kit pages with your own content. So just come up with matches to the chapters as best you can because you're going to be editing everything once it's fully assembled. Now you'll see we picked out Cover Letter.

We've already got Cover Letter, Title Page and Back Page. Those are just Proposal Kit templates that give you a front cover and a back cover. Table of Contents you know you should usually add one of those if it's a longer document.

Now we're just going to scroll through the instructions here and we see okay they've asked for an Overview. We don't see Overview here but we know there's one in Proposal Kit. We'll just go to the Search by Name tab and we're going to search for the Overview chapter.

And Contract Type, well lets just search for the word Contract. Period of Performance we know there's a Past Performance template in the Proposal Kit. And as I'm searching on single words I'm not going to search for multi–word phrases.

That's going to be harder to match on so we're just going to search for those three to start with. Okay, so we've actually found an Overview chapter. Contract Type, well we found a Contracting template.

Well that's close enough. Period of Performance we're just going to add the Performance page. There's a Past Performance page but that's more talking about your past experience and past projects not the actual period of this particular performance.

So I'll just pick the Performance chapter. And we'll select those. Now we've added those to our project here.

Now let's move on to Business Classification, Information and Place of Performance. That's going to be a tougher one but we at least we know in Proposal Kit we're just going to pick the Operations chapter. Another thing to do instead of searching on keywords is in this case Business Classification, Information, Place of Performance that's talking about your company.

So we could just go into the Add Templates tab click this drop–down and scroll down to the chapters that talk about our company. And we can just look through these couple pages of chapters and see if anything sounds like it'd be good for Business Classification and Information. So we can just pick Company Operations.

That kind of covers that situation. Now we have a couple chapters here Royalties/License Fees that's probably good in Proposal Kit to split up into a couple different pages. So back to Search by Name here.

Clear the form and let's look up License and Royalties. Now Licensing and Royalty is also related to Rights so I found a Licensing template, that's a good one. Let's look up Right that's more of an intellectual property chapter.

Another way we can find intellectual property chapters since Royalties and Licensing Fees kind of fit into that we can go into Add Templates click this drop down. Now let's look at the intellectual property category and you'll see Licensing and Rights are right there. We could have just checked these off from this page and notice even though we added these chapters from the Search by Name tab because we've added them to our project you're seeing them displayed on this screen as well.

Okay now Payment Terms, let's just look for the word payment. Representations and Certifications here, let's say I know that we don't have a template called representations but we know we do have one for certifications. Let's just search for these two.

So I found a Payment Terms chapter and we found a Certifications chapter. So just add both of those to our project. Scroll down the instructions here.

Now there's something called Absence of Organizational Conflicts of Interest (OCI). Now that is a completely custom chapter for this specific RFP so you're not going to find anything exactly matching this but you can think of the concept conflicts of interest. Let's just search on the word conflict.

Now we have Socio–economic Business Plan Concern as another very specific kind of chapter. But what if we just search for socio. Sometimes doing small partial keyword searches are the best option.

So I found Conflict Management, that's a good concept for conflicts of interest. Socio–economic Issues that actually fits right in with Socio–economic Business Plan Concern so we'll select that. We'll add those to our project.

Now we get to Limitations and Summary of Exceptions so let's search for exception and limitation. So we actually have a Limitations chapter and an Exceptions chapter. I'll add those to our project.

Alright now we've got the Financial Health. Well, we don't have a financial health chapter we do have a Financial Information chapter. And then we also have them asking for Information and Cybersecurity.

So let's look for a financial information and cyber. And notice we're only looking up one, two or three chapters at a time just to get this done in bite–sized pieces. Okay, so Financial Information will cover it because you can just talk about your financial health within the Financial Information chapter.

Information and Cyber–security well there's an Information chapter and there's a Cybersecurity chapter. Add all those. Now Foreign Sourcing, so this is another one where we have a chapter but it's not going to be exactly titled.

Let's just search for sourcing and then we get into technical management. Technical section, so these aren't going to be chapters to add because we're going to add the chapters below for the detailed pages. So Technical Approach let's just look up the word approach.

Trade Off Studies, studies is actually the more common word. So I'll search for these three sourcing, approach and studies. So we do have Outsourcing that's actually foreign sourcing.

Technical Approach we have an Approach and a Technical Approach that's an exact match. Trade Off Studies, so we have a Studies. Okay we've got the three added.

All right so the next one is Specialty Engineering, High–risk Tasks and System Configuration. So what do we have for those. Well let's search for the word engineering.

Notice I'm just shorting this to engineer. High–risk Tasks, let's just actually look for risk. And notice I'm picking the key phrase.

I'm not picking out the word high, that's not going to give me anything useful. Risk is the actual term that's going to be what we're looking for. And tasks now that's just a task list or something.

So we're going to search for the word risk. System Configuration you can serach for the word configuration. Okay, so for engineering actually just Engineering works.

High–risk Tasks we have Risk Management. System Configuration we'll just pick Configuration. Add those to the list.

Testing Approach, Operations Manuals, Government–Approved Systems. So we could search for the word testing or approach. So I'll just search for the word testing.

Operations Manuals, now a manual we're not going to have a chapter called manual because a manual is going to be an entire document made up of subchapters. Operations if I search for that we're going to get things like company operations. So what's Operations Manuals, those are documentation so we'll search for documentation.

And Government–Approved Systems, again that's another very specialized topic. So just search for the word system. Okay, so for Testing Approach now we'll just pick Testing Plan.

For Operations Manuals I'll just pick Documentation. And Government Approved Systems I'll just pick the System Plan. We're just going to retitle that.

Now we have Management Approach, Past Experience, Scheduling and Staffing. So search for the word management. Past Experience so it could be Past Performance or your experience or so on.

We'll search for the word past this time. So we know we have a chapter that's going to cover that word. Schedule/Staffing Plans that's a good one to split up into two chapters actually for Proposal Kit.

We'll just search for the word schedule and staffing. We'll just pick Project Management. For Past Experience, well there's a Past Performance that's close enough.

And for Schedule and Staffing plans we'll use the Schedule template and the Staffing template. And that was four more. Now we have Quality Assurance Configuration Management Approach.

We'll search for the word quality. Now for Key Personnel you know we could search for the word personnel, staff or so on. But this chapter is talking about the key important information so we could search for the word key.

Now this is another one we could go back to the Add Templates tab click the drop down for about our company since this is a template that's going be within the your company category. And then Engineering Capability well we searched on engineering before. But the key word here is capability so let's just search on the word capability.

And look at that the Wizard is searching for that exact match or a partial keyword match but it also is going to show you any related templates that we have tagged as related to ones that it found in the search that might show you something that has a completely different wording but it might be the one you're looking for. So that's why we're only searching for one, two or three templates at a time otherwise this chapter templates found gets pretty long. You can control this a little bit more with these check boxes.

But we searched for a quality template. Let's just pick Quality Assurance that pretty much matches the first couple words. Key Personnel well Key Positions that's pretty much what we're looking for.

Engineering Capability, in this case now we have a lot of templates here so let's just pick the one we found. Let's clear this and just search for one. So we're just kind of searching for the word capabile.

Now we're going to shorten it up because you know if the ending is spelled differently capability versus capabilities so it is searching for the front part. Yeah, and we found a Capabilities template that'll work. Okay, Facilities and Equipment, so for Proposal Kit this is good to split this up into two different chapters.

All right so we have a template for Equipment and one for Facilities, add those. And we're getting actually pretty close to the end here. So Financial Capability don't have a template called Financial Capability but it does say in the description here to include two past two years of annual reports.

Well, we have Annual Report so I'll just search for the word annual. Supporting Documentation, we don't have template called exactly Supporting Documentation but we do have something called Related Documentation. Now this is where it might be harder for a new person using Proposal Kit because we just happen to know how many phrases and it's easy for us to to pick out some of these quickly.

You might have to spend a little more time searching through the database, looking through the list of chapters we have or you can always just contact us and ask us what a chapter related in the system would be to a chapter you're looking for. We do this all the time helping people out mapping their RFP instructions. Okay, so for Financial Capability and Annual Reports well we're just going to pick the Annual Report template.

So for Supporting Documentation we're going to pick Related Documents. And for Pricing we'll pick Price Structure. Now you could eat just as easily pick Price Lists or whatever.

Just pick something that sounds like it's going to be close. All right now that we have all the templates selected for this RFP notice we have like 40 chapters. And the order in this list is not the same order in those RFP instructions.

So that's our next task is now that we have the chapters selected let's reorder them to match the order of this RFP. So you can see we want them in this exact order [per the RFP]. So the Proposal Kit as we're adding them just added them in its default order so you'll see that these are all out of order.

So what we do is we can just go back to start reading the RFP and we'll pick our matching templates. So Cover Letter, Title Page, Table of Contents – those will always be first. Overview, yeah keep that first.

Things like System Plan things like that can get moved way down. So now we've got to find our Contract Type which was our Contracting template. Select that and this will just take a few minutes so I'm gonna skip ahead and just reorder this.

See how I select an item and just move it up or move it down to get them all in the right order. So I'll do this right now then will skip ahead a bit. Now that we've changed the order of everything to match the RFP instructions in its list now we're ready to actually build a template.

So we click the Okay, Use Selected Templates button to get out of the Pick Documents screen. Okay, so now we are back at the Project screen. We have our custom logo selected.

Notice we've turned off the Dynamic Spreadsheet Linking. If you have it turned on it's going to actually link cells in the Excel spreadsheets to any of the financial pages. Since this is going to be a very custom proposal we're not going to be using the Proposal Kits spreadsheets.

And also this speeds up to demo. It tells you we've got 40 chapters selected so this will be a 40–plus page document once it's created. The Company Data and Client Data screens you would just fill these in with your information.

So whatever you enter into these fields will get put into the document into its Cover Letter, Title Page and so on. Whatever you put in the Client Data screen that's the person or organization you are submitting the proposal to. You'd put that in here and that information will get put into various places in the proposal just to save you a little time.

Once we've got the data in there, templates are selected, once you click OK, Save Project and Build Documents. The Wizard will build you the document. Now we just sit back and wait for it.

So a 40 page document is going to take a few minutes to build so we'll just skip ahead here. Okay, now the document has been generated. Open that up and see what it looks like.

So we've got our Cover Letter. It imported our custom logo. It changed the black and gray color scheme to the blues and greens that we set.

It filled in the Table of Contents. Now we have the exact list of chapters we selected out of the Proposal Kit and things like yourdomain. com here that just was put in the Company Data screen.

So whatever you would have typed in would be input there. And you can further customize this. You could turn off the page borders, you can change the bullet points, you can change the typography and so on.

All this is editable. And you can see it applied the blue/green color scheme to various parts of the document. So now this document is actually ready to start editing.

So you can see in just a few minutes it generated a document of 48 pages long that matches the layout instructions. So now the next step is customizing this template and this doesn't even have to use our Wizard software anymore. So everything we do at this point forward on this document is just within our Word processor.

So we could even shut down our Wizard there. Let's bring up the RFP instructions and now we're just going to edit this document to match the RFP instructions. So once we've got the chapter headers customized then the document is ready for you to just start filling in your actual information into the templates.

And all that is just word processing. So anything you know about writing proposals, anything you learn anywhere else, any material you get from anywhere else, you've written yourself or you've been given by the agency to include it's just all word processing using your Word software at this point. So to change the chapter headers what we do is we just edit the text here.

And you see this is large black text. If you want to edit this typography to change the chapter headers all text for these chapter headers is in this Proposal Kit Page Header font style. So for example if we modified this font style so if we change it from Arial Black to Open Sans, change the color to dark blue.

You can see it changes it in every single chapter. So to change typography because we've applied Word Styles to all the elements of the text and all the pages you can just change these Word Styles up here. So just undo that change for now.

That's just a quick tip on how to customize the visual look. Now we'll go back and start editing the chapters to match. So Overview we're going to keep that the same.

So Contracting that will just become Contract Type. Performance we'll just change that to Period of Performance. Operations, that's going to be our Business Classification down here.

So Rights and our Licensing we'll just leave Rights the same and Licensing we'll just change that to License Fees and so on. So we'll just go through this whole document now. I'll just skip ahead here and I'm just going to go through and retitle everything.

So Certifications that's going to become Representations and Certifications. Okay, so I've gone through and retitled everything. Now we have to regenerate the Table of Contents.

So if we highlight and right–click your mouse and click Update Field. Word updates the chapter headers because we've defined this Table of Contents to be built off of those font styles that we just showed you. And you can see all of the chapter headers now exactly match everything that's asked for in this RFP instruction list.

So now all you have to do is actually fill in the chapters with your own information matching what they're asking for in the RFP. And then you're ready to submit your proposal. So Proposal Kit is going to let you quickly create a very complex document whether it's five pages, 20 pages, 40 pages or more.

You could generate something a hundred pages. It will quickly let you generate a template matching an RFP once you've mapped what they're asking for to our chapters and customize the settings and built a document. It will save you hours or days assembling long complex documents.

And that's all there is to it. There's another instruction manual included in the Proposal Kit on how to write government grant proposals. It will go into some of this as well.

So if you open your Proposal Kit (this is the professional version) it will also be in individual Proposal Packs and look at the instruction manual. It will also be a PDF in the root of the install folder in each Proposal Pack. And this extra instruction manual is Users Guide on Government RFPs, Government Grants.

The information here will also be applicable to writing any complex document where you're following a set of instructions. So look at this manual, look at all the examples included. Other videos will show you lots of ways to customize the system.

If you ever get stuck we're available to help. And that is how you generate a template for responding to a government RFP.

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