Establish and maintain a solicitation package that includes the requirements and proposal evaluation criteria.
Solicitation packages are used to seek proposals from potential suppliers. The acquirer structures the solicitation package to facilitate an accurate and complete response from each potential supplier and to enable an effective comparison and evaluation of proposals.
The solicitation package includes a description of the desired form of the response, the relevant statement of work for the supplier, and required provisions in the supplier agreement (e.g., a copy of the standard supplier agreement or non-disclosure provisions). In government acquisitions, some or all of the content and structure of the solicitation package can be defined by regulation.
- The statement of work for the supplier, including supplier process, product, and service level measures
- Guidance on how potential suppliers are to respond to the solicitation package
- A description of the evaluation process and criteria to be used to evaluate proposals
- Documentation requirements to submit with the response (e.g., project plans)
- The schedule for completing the solicitation process
- Procedures for addressing questions and contacts
The solicitation package is rigorous enough to ensure consistent and comparable responses but flexible enough to allow consideration of supplier suggestions for better ways to satisfy requirements. The acquirer can invite suppliers to submit a proposal that is wholly responsive to the request for proposal and to provide a proposed alternative solution in a separate proposal.
The complexity and level of detail of the solicitation package should be consistent with the value of, and risk associated with, the planned acquisition. In some cases, the solicitation may not include detailed requirements (e.g., it may be a solicitation for development of detailed requirements or it may include a statement of objectives to provide the supplier greater flexibility in addressing the scope of the project). Proposal and supplier evaluation criteria are identified and documented.
Example Work Products
- Solicitation package
- Supplier and proposal evaluation criteria
1. Develop the statement of work for the supplier.
The statement of work for the supplier defines, for those items being acquired, the portion of the project scope that is included in the related supplier agreement. The statement of work for a supplier is developed from the project scope, the work breakdown structure, and the task dictionary.
The statement of work for the supplier is written to be clear, complete, and concise. It describes the acquired product or service in sufficient detail to allow prospective suppliers to determine if they are capable of providing the product or service.
- Project objectives
- Requirements (including period of performance; milestones; work location; legal, statutory, and regulatory requirements; delivery format; quantities; content requirements)
- Design constraints
- Deliverables and rights (e.g., work breakdown structure of the supplier’s work, detailed design, test results)
- An overview of the project with sufficient information for the supplier to understand the project environment and risks
- Expectations of the supplier’s transition of the product to operations and support
- Expectations for process, product, and service level measures and reports that provide the acquirer visibility into supplier progress and performance
- Collateral services required (e.g. study reports, development of training materials, delivery of training to end users)
- Acquirer specified standard processes for the project (e.g., configuration management, issue escalation and resolution, corrective action for nonconformances, change management)
- The type of reviews to be conducted with the supplier and other communication processes and procedures
- Product acceptance criteria and required supplier involvement in the acquirer’s validation and acceptance activities
- Post-project support
The statement of work for the supplier can be revised and refined as it moves through the solicitation, negotiation, and supplier agreement development processes until it is incorporated into a signed supplier agreement. For example, a prospective supplier can suggest a more efficient approach or a less costly product than what was originally specified.
2. Specify the process, product, and service level measures for acceptance.
The measures specify customer expectations and threshold values and are used to monitor the supplier and gauge the supplier’s adherence to requirements.
Service levels are an indicator of service delivery performance relative to an agreed-on service level measure. Service levels are designed to support the acquisition strategy. (See the definitions of “service level” and “measure” in the glossary.)
3. Develop supplier evaluation and proposal evaluation criteria.
Evaluation criteria are developed and used to rate or score proposals. Evaluation criteria are included in the solicitation package. Evaluation criteria can be limited to purchase price if the acquisition item is readily available from a number of acceptable suppliers. Purchase price in this context includes both the cost of the item and ancillary expenses such as delivery. Other selection criteria can be identified and documented to support an evaluation of a more complex product or service (e.g., the individuals identified in the Project Planning resource plan develop and document criteria for evaluating potential suppliers and their proposals).
- Compliance to stated requirements contained in the solicitation package
- Experience with similar products or services (e.g., data on most recent similar projects with the associated cost, schedule, and performance and the degree to which requirements were fulfilled)
- Familiarity with acquirer processes, the technical environment, and the core business
- Total ownership and lifecycle costs
- Technical capability (e.g., expected compliance to functional and quality attribute requirements, criteria given the architecture and technical solution proposed)
- Management, development, and delivery processes and procedures
- Proposed technical methodologies, techniques, solutions, and services
- Financial capability
- Production capacity and interest (e.g., staff available to perform the effort, available facilities, other available resources)
- Business size and type
- Intellectual property and proprietary rights
4. Document the proposal content that suppliers must submit with their response.
- Compliance with requirements
- References, company overview, and case studies
- Evidence of the supplier’s organizational processes on which supplier processes for the project will be based and the commitment to execute those processes from project inception
- Plan describing how the supplier will carry out the scope and content of the solicitation package, including any improvements of execution capability over the duration of the supplier agreement
- Understanding of the size and complexity of the requested work based on requirements
- The pricing and compensation methodology that enables calculation of charges for the services being provided to the acquirer pursuant to supplier agreement terms and conditions, including taxes, credits, foreign currency translation, licenses, pass-through costs, and travel reimbursements
- Pricing and compensation schedules that provide for charges for the products and services provided, including frequency, term, and pricing type (e.g., fixed price, lump sum, time and materials) as well as rate cards, and a skills matrix
- Compliance with acquirer travel reimbursement policies
- References and experience validating the capability of the supplier’s proposed approach to meet proposed funding, schedule, and quality targets
- Risk management plan describing how the supplier will periodically manage risks throughout the life of the project and how risks documented in the solicitation package will be managed
- Methods for early defect identification and the prevention of defects in delivered products
- The supplier’s approach to assuring the quality of the product
- Approach to the escalation and resolution of issues
- Description of the supplier’s proposed use of COTS products and rationale for the supplier’s confidence that COTS products can achieve the requirements
- Description of the supplier’s proposed reuse of previously developed hardware and software, rationale for the supplier’s confidence that re-use can be achieved, and associated information about data rights
- Approach to providing visibility of development progress and costs at a level appropriate for the type of agreement and commensurate with the degree of risk
- Retention of critical staff during the project
- Identification of work to be performed by subcontractors
5. Incorporate the acquirer’s (standard) supplier agreement, terms and conditions, and additional information into the solicitation package.
- Deliverables and rights
- Compensation and payments
- Privacy statements
- Continuous improvement and best practices
- Exclusive services, key staff, supplier staff at acquirer sites
- Information gathering practices and ethical representation
- Force majeure
- Termination for insolvency, breach, or non-performance
- Termination for convenience
- Termination assistance
- Right to audit
- Submission of intent to submit proposal
- Submission due date, time, and destination
- Number of proposal copies that must be submitted
- Proposal format
- Non-complying proposals
- Proposal ownership
- Bidder inquiries
- Key dates and activities
- Discretionary selection and potential modifications of the solicitation process
- No implied offer
- Response constitutes an offer to do business
- Confidentiality of information
- Use of subcontractors
- Due diligence
- Incurred costs
- Language requirements
- Statutory units
- Warranty provisions
- Licensing provisions