When it comes to proposal management, there are a lot of moving pieces to manage, and organization shouldn’t be the thing that keeps your proposal from winning the bid.
The compliance matrix is a cross-reference table of each requirement and its corresponding location in the proposal. It helps the team untangle requirements that affect various sections, and figure out where to address them in the proposal. And it helps the proposal manager monitor and ensure compliance requirements are addressed and met.
The matrix is your first step to building a comprehensive proposal content plan which will drive roles, tasks, and responsibilities.
Think of the matrix as your map; a tool that helps you help the team understand the task at hand.
- What requirements must be addressed in each section
- What requirements must be addressed across different sections?
- Validate that all requirements have been addressed in each section and across sections.
The matrix is a simple table or spreadsheet; each RFP section gets a column, and each row links each proposal section with one or more requirements. On very simple proposals, where the requirements are perfectly aligned with your proposal, a matrix may not be necessary. On larger pursuits, where requirements are scattered across the proposal, a matrix is a lifesaver.
While some teams enter only paragraph outline number locations, other teams enter full text, especially on larger, more complicated pursuits, to avoid any confusion. You don't want your compliance matrix to collapse in the final days because of a formatting change or error.
Often times a matrix is a requirement as well, especially in response to the Federal Government. So some teams have adopted a best practice of always including a compliance matrix – which helps evaluators navigate and score your proposal.
(Note: If this requirement applies to you, it is best to format your compliance matrix in a way that meets the customer request from the very beginning, so you don’t have to translate your working matrix into the one you are going to put in the proposal.)
Tip: You don't have to wait for the opportunity to drop to start your compliance matrix. Starting a compliance matrix early, when the opportunity is first identified on the horizon, is also a good idea. It will help the team document, track, and discuss customer requirements as they emerge and prepare for the written proposal.
Next in our series on proposal management best practices: Outlining and annotating your proposal for your writers gives them the direction and details they need to write persuasively.