This is the time of the year in which we hear much talk about disaster preparedness and disaster recovery, primarily for our homes during hurricane season. However, there are so many other potential disasters from natural to man made, that some government agencies are starting to include disaster recovery into their proposal evaluation criteria.
Recently, the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida received an announcement for an office supplies Request for Proposal (RFP). After reading about the type of supplies being sought, I reviewed the evaluation criteria document. This is the very first step in deciding if your company can or should respond to a RFP. To my surprise, two out of the seven technical responses required are about disaster recovery.
The first section requests the respondent to explain their plan to protect their online ordering system from being offline, losing data or exposing sensitive data (IT Assurance). Remember, a cyber attack is a potential disaster to any business. You may recall big names like Target, Home Depot, and others being hacked in the past several years. All small businesses are also vulnerable to cyber attacks. The attack can include website tampering, data theft, computer system lock-down, malicious viruses, and any other event that prevents you from conducting business.
The potential client (who is requesting the product/services) wants to ensure that your company will be able to conduct business at all times and protect their sensitive information; They want to feel at ease when doing business with their vendors, particularly when it involves handling sensitive data such as payment/credit card information.
The second disaster recovery section was about the potential vendor’s ability to resume operations and provide support to their clients after a disaster. In this instance, the potential client wants to know how the vendor is going to help them get back to business quickly. Are you, as the supplier, prepared to take care of your company and others after a disaster?
These two sections had a combined maximum evaluation value of 60 points. Imagine if your company did not have these safety nets in place? The result? Your company would lose 60 out of a possible total 230 points or 25 percent of the evaluation value. On the other hand, if the response demonstrates a well thought out disaster plan, that may make the difference in getting the award (contract) or being one of the “no response” offerers.
Winning contracts is a competitive process and it’s important to position your company as a strong supplier – one that is ready to assist the customer on many fronts – to win the contract. This is the perfect time to review internal systems to ensure that your company is ready to compete—before that next opportunity lands in your inbox. At the very least it will make your business stronger. Meanwhile, it will not only give your business a competitive edge when responding to requests for proposals but will probably put your company at the top of the award list.