Should I Respond to an RFI?

In pursuit of federal business opportunities, we’ve all experienced those moments while midway through a two hundred page solicitation when a revelation hits like an oncoming train – this customer has no idea what this industry is really like. But why is that? Is that fault encumbered upon industry, or on the government? Perhaps fault is to blaming of a word; perhaps limited responses to requests for reliable information is the true cause of the gap in understanding.

Wouldn’t we all like the opportunity to show the federal customer that there is a better way of doing something? A new widely used technology-based solution, up-to-date processes, or efficiency-laden products that are available to replace obsolete systems. The opportunity presents itself more often than most companies realize, or utilize to their benefit.

Requests for Information

Federal customers regularly publish Request(s) for Information (RFIs) for the specific purpose of gathering industry feedback. What an opportunity! That unique product your company has developed, the Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software customization your company does, the industry-recognized processes you employ, the streamlined efficiencies you’ve developed for other customers – this is your opportunity to tell the government about your new-found, or tried-and-true, methodology for accomplishing exactly what it is they’re looking for. Why would you pass that up? You wouldn’t. This is a genuine request for industry feedback! Yes, should should respond to an RFI.

Why Are RFIs Published?

Although not an absolute, RFIs are often published for new products or services that the federal customer is considering. As such, this provides industry with a significant platform for bringing potential contracts to fruition. RFIs are invaluable tools for industry to help shape the government in their formal requirements development, Statements of Work (SOWs) or Performance Work Statements (PWS) content, and initiate the process of implementing real solutions for federal needs.

Utilize the opportunity to your company’s advantage. Demonstrate reliable case study-type scenarios in which benefits have been realized by your existing customers. Differentiate your company’s proposed solution by showing efficiencies and cost savings potential, coupled with industry-recognized processes, and how they can be utilized to solve the government’s pain points.

By demonstrating how industry options can be beneficial, implementable, and solution-oriented, companies are able to influence next steps and the government has a realistic view of the level of interest available within the contract community. With the federal government’s ever-declining contracting dollars, and ever-increasing needs, solidifying the availability of industry-provided solutions can help push those contracting dollars to companies in the federal marketplace. Your company’s solution could be the deciding factor to move a perpetually behind-the-curve federal customer, into the next generation.

About Skip Blackburn