The EXA Way Supplement

Avoid Overpromising

Page 319

Overpromising in a proposal occurs when a bidder commits to deliverables, timelines, or performance levels that are beyond the requirements of the Request for Proposal (RFP). Overpromises may be unrealistic or unsustainable, and thus put the resulting contract in jeopardy, or they may be well within the capabilities of the project team. Either way, overpromises may increase the proposed cost, and thus reduce the proposal’s competitiveness compared to other bidders. Alternatively, the bid estimators may not have factored the costs of the overpromises into the bid price, resulting in reduced profits (or even losses) once under contract.  

Bidders sometimes overpromise to try to impress the evaluators. Other times bidders overpromise out of habit, as in “we always do it this way.” Overpromising can lead to issues with lost opportunities, project delivery, client expectations, and company reputation. Overpromising is especially problematic in response to mandatory requirements. The bidder receives no additional benefit in the evaluation of their proposal when they overpromise in response to a mandatory requirement.  

Here is an example of a mandatory requirement and an overpromise in response to the requirements.  

The successful bidder will be required to manage the project with a project management team comprising at least a project manager and a project control officer. The Project Team, led by the Project Manager, shall convene project status review meetings with the Customer not less frequently than every six months. The Project Management Plan shall follow the guidelines set out in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).


Project Management Team Structure and Operations

In compliance with the requirement, and in keeping with our internal processes, our project management team will consist of highly experienced professionals including a Project Manager (PM), a Project Control Officer (PCO), two Project Support Specialists, and a Risk Management Specialist.


Enhanced Meeting Frequency and Reporting 

We will follow our standard project management reporting process, including:

Monthly Project Review Meetings: We propose monthly meetings with the Customer to ensure continuous alignment and immediate resolution of any emerging challenges.

Weekly Status Reports: Our team will provide comprehensive weekly written status reports, detailing progress, risks, and upcoming milestones, thus maintaining a constant channel of communication and transparency. 

Advanced Project Management Plan (PMP) Approach

In addition to the guidelines of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), our baseline Project Management Plan also integrates advanced methodologies and tools, including Agile and Lean Methodologies, and customized Project Management Software.

The above descriptions promise a level of performance well above the specifications set out in the RFP. A competitor that proposes only the resources and capabilities called out in the RFP will submit a significantly lower bid price. If this requirement were a rated criterion, it might (but not always) make sense to propose the above deliverables and capabilities in anticipation of receiving a higher score. In the case of this mandatory requirement, there is no benefit to promising more than what the RFP requires. The only exception would be if the minimum mandatory requirement is reckless, in which case you should submit a question to the procurement authority and ask them to increase the minimum mandatory requirement to meet industry standards, thus evening the playing field for all bidders.

***Disclaimer: The information presented in this supplement is for information purposes only. It is not intended, and may not be used, as legal or business advice. The author makes no representations of warranty, accuracy, or fit for purpose of the information herein. Use at your own risk.