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Past Performance is why your proposals get tossed

A company’s history is important because it gives evaluators insight about your company’s performance on previous engagements.  This is why most RFP’s weigh this area consistently high.  Now, if we know that government is risk adverse and proof of past performance is prologue for future work, then what can we do as proposers to ensure we mitigate the uncertainty?

1. Know the difference between Past Performance and Past Experience.

  • Past performance is the execution of projects your firm has done in the past which are of similar scope, size, and budget and may tie back to the bid requirements.
  • Past experience refers to a much broader definition of your firm’s previous achievements to include expertise and the individual experiences of the staff.

2. Select projects that are of similar size, scope, and complexity to demonstrate understanding of the requirements.

  • When tallying your past performance score, the government is going to weigh two major factors – (1) the relevancy and (2) how well you performed.
  • When you cite similar projects you are showing the government you can handle projects that are similar to their requirements. It implies your firm is credible and seasoned.

3. Write your past performance descriptions that they stand out from the crowd.

4. Select projects that are worthy of praise. 

  • Typically government will validate everything you reference. Make sure you have accurate and up to date customer contact information.
  • Retrieve and keep records of any past performance repository information to include (1) the Past Performance Retrieval System (PPIRS), and (2) the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS).

5. Provide credible copywriting.

6. Create a system to keep your past performance descriptions up to date annually

  • My suggestion is you create both a long and short version of your past performance citations.  This way you can keep up with pertinent information on a regular basis and not cram for details when you receive an RFP or IFB.
  • Create an annual system of validating project history. Document projects that have been completed by having a Project Manager provide you with a briefing of the project and contract activities. If you create a systematic approach to your past performance, it will always be the most relevant reflections of an engagement.   Obviously, the best time for updates are right after every successful project.

Past performance in a proposal document is often overlooked, but it’s the one area where you can maximize evaluation points in your bid submission.

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  • Sharon Moore Jackson

    Tami,
    Knowing the difference between past performance and past experience really makes the difference as to whether your proposal will move to the next level. You nailed it and I hope business owners seeking contracting opportunities in the government sector (i.e., Local, State and Federal) heed this advice.