Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Have it your way - in the proposal delivery world, the customer is always right, no matter what

I've stated before that the proposal industry is one industry that has to adhere to deadlines. When a request for proposal (RFP) includes a deadline, you have to adhere to the deadline.

No matter what.

Lohfeld Consulting Group has shared a few proposal delivery horror stories, and I figured that one of them would be of interest to my readers. When you here the story, you'll probably laugh and think that it's an example of the Federal Government lacking common sense, but put yourself in the shoes of the Marine Contracting Officer while you read the beginning of this story.

Fellow Lohfeld Consultant Brooke Crouter had a proposal due on September 12, 2001 on the Marine Corps base at Quantico. The base shut down at about 0930 on September 11. She had to have the duty officer contact the Contracting Officer (CO) to see if the proposal delivery deadline was extended or not. Since the CO didn’t want to extend, there was an issue of how to deliver to a base that was shut down.

Now any adult (i.e. anyone who was around on September 11, 2001) who read that is probably shaking his or her head. But remember that in this case, the governing authority - and the only person whose opinion matters - is the Contracting Officer. If you forget this, then you might as well not try to have any business career, because you have failed to place the customer first.

The Contracting Officer has a job to do, and his or her job is to procure certain items, and to receive and review proposals by September 12 in pursuit of that goal. If you can't get your proposal in on time, that's YOUR problem.

Well, in this case it was Brooke Crouter's problem. And Crouter had to remain flexible throughout the process - which lasted several weeks after the September 12 due date. In the end, Crouter had to tell the customer, "Have it your way" - and that's exactly what the customer did.

Finally, she got a call to show up NLT 1300 at the Burger King outside the back gate. There was a government vehicle parked with the trunk open. You handed off your box and got a receipt. It looked like a very strange drug deal going on.

But the proposal was delivered to the Contracting Officer's satisfaction. Although I'm not sure that the Contracting Officer would have been allowed to receive a side of fries if Crouter had included that in the submission.

Now that is a proposal delivery success story. If you want to read about a proposal delivery failure - including the problems that can occur when a helicopter with no landing rights is used for a proposal delivery - read the original post.
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