Decoding the SF330, Part 1
Decode SF330 in Part 1 - Uncover history, nuts & bolts, and strategic connections. Master the form for federal and state contracting success.
by guest author Krystn Macomber
Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar.
“Alright guys, we need to get to work putting this SF330 together...”
*Employees scatter, run frantically for the exits. * Here’s another scenario.
“Team, this SF330 isn’t going to write itself...”
*Team starts copying and pasting old, used text like a college freshman in a Comp 1 class*
If you work in the federal or state contracting side of architecture and engineering, you know a version of both scenes. While many firms put off completing this form until the very last minute, others just view the SF330 as “just a form” and fill in the boxes with a black and white approach. (And quite literally, they use the black and white form.)
The SF330 is a beast of a form that requires a robust strategy, detailed communication within your team, and some creativity if you want your hard work to pay off in the end. It should also be customized with your own branding with added elements to make it pop and tell a compelling story
It’s easy to get in over your head quickly if you don’t make a plan and stick to it. That’s why we’ve created this three-part series to demystify the SF330.
But first, if you’re new to the SF330 game, let’s check out the nuts and bolts of this loved and hated form. It’s time for a history lesson kids.
A little backstory...
The SF330 comes from legislation originally called the Brooks Act (now called the Selection for Architects and Engineers statute). Prior to the 1940s, most government architectural and engineering projects were completed in-house. When these projects exceeded the government’s capabilities, it opened the door to outside contractors.
Passed in 1972, the Brooks Act was established to make sure proposals for architecture and engineering projects were considered first and foremost for their qualifications and merits over cost.
Fast forward a few years, the SF330 is, believe it or not, an upgrade from two universally hated forms, the SF254 and 255. Why were these hated? They were outdated, confusing, and cumbersome. While you may feel that way about the SF330, the form was actually intended to make the process easier and more flexible for everyone.
Still awake? No? Go splash some water on your face and stick with me. It’s about to get good. Let’s dig into the form itself.
The nuts and bolts of the SF330
The SF330 is split into two parts. Part two is mostly entering general information about yourself and any subcontractors/teaming partners, so we’ll just focus on part one for now. This part is separated into nine sections, labeled A-I. Section I is for authenticating the document by an authorized representative. That means we’re focusing on sections A-H, the areas where you can truly make your proposal stand out from the rest.
A-G break down like this:
· Section A: Contract Information
· Section B: Architect-Engineer Point of Contact
· Section C: Proposed Team
· Section D: Organizational Chart of Proposed Team
· Section E: Resumes of Key Personnel Proposed for this Contract
· Section F: Example Projects Which Best Illustrate Proposed Team's Qualifications for this Contract
· Section G. Key Personnel Participation in Example Projects
· Section H. Additional Information
Your goal when preparing your SF330 is to customize your proposal as much as possible and maximize the areas where you can stand out. The form is designed to weed out teams that are inexperienced and haven’t worked together because it prioritizes the people you are proposing and the projects they’ve worked on.
Connect the dots
Have you ever played Connect Four? If not (for whatever reason), there are dots and the first one to connect four of them wins... It’s not a complicated game.
That’s the same simple straightforwardness you need to bring to the SF330.
One of the most important things to remember is that your form should tell a complete story. As you and your team piece together your proposal, all the elements must work together to make the compelling case that you are the contractor they’ve been waiting for. It’s your challenge to take a proposal that is probably complicated with a lot of moving parts and simplify it to the point that the review panel is following the path you’ve laid out for them.
Let me explain.
After you’ve connected the dots in terms of strategy and key discriminators, you must connect the dots between the different sections of the SF330. These sections work together and influence/inform other sections. For example, Section E is connected to Sections C, D, F, and G, while Section D is connected to Sections C and E. You also need to make sure your dots connect for the people working on your project to showcase their relevant experience and align with the projects you show in Section F.
It cannot be stressed enough how much attention should be invested in this point of the SF330. Repeatedly, so many firms submit the SF330 as prime but have upwards of 20-30 subcontractors for
large federal IDIQ contracts. That means you’re playing an enormous matching game by pairing the right people with the right skills/credentials and the right experience to align with what the RFP is requesting (Section G). This applies to both the prime and the subs, leaving you playing a master game of picking the right people, the right subs, and the right projects.
You can jazz up your form to Miles and Coltrane levels, but your dot connections must be clear and straightforward if you want anyone to connect with the work you’re proposing.
Still hanging in there? The complexity of the SF330 is why some firms work on this for a year in advance of the RFP. However, difficult challenges are opportunities for you to outsmart and outwork your competition.
Krystn Macomber CP APMP Fellow, LEED
Founder + Chief Executive Officer
There’s magic in disrupting the ordinary. This is the philosophy Krystn brings to working with and empowering her clients. With a 20-year track record of helping global professional services enterprises, Krystn is redefining what’s possible for companies looking to elevate their marketing, pursuit, and business development operations. She is an industry leader, award winner, mentor, coach, and highly sought-after speaker.