Guest Blog

Decoding the SF330, Part 2

Now that we have a solid foundation to build a winning proposal, Part 2 of this series will explore the different sections of SF330 and ways you can make your proposal stand out from the competition.

Great job! You’ve made it to Part 2 of Decoding the SF330. With a strong foundation in place, let’s dive into the specific sections of the form and how you can maximize areas your competitors overlook. 

Sections A, B, and C 

This first section breaks down to: 

Section A: Contract Information

Section B: Point of Contact

Section C: Proposed Team 

Since Sections A and B are basic info about your team, let’s look at Section C. This is where you can set yourself apart from competitors by taking some simple steps to bring life to your proposal, including: 

  • Add firm logos or team colors to incorporate a graphical element. 
  • For teaming partners and subconsultants, be detailed and creative. 
    • Include information on their small business status, previous working relationships, or their percentage of utilization on the contract. 

Section D: Organizational Chart of Proposed Team 

This is another chance for you to set your proposal apart by showing your understanding of the project effort. Just like the roles of any subconsultant, the organizational chart should cover every discipline listed in the RFP. It’s also important to show specific lines of reporting, responsibility, and team communication. That way those reviewing your proposal will see that you fully grasp the lift needed by your team to execute the project. Remember, it’s important to present the organizational chart as one team and not the prime + subcontractors individually. The staff numbers, offices, and details should be from the perspective of your whole team, not just the prime. 

Here are a few things to consider: 

  • How is the work effort organized? Are there phases? 
  • How will the disciplines interact with one another? Are there communication processes to show? 
  • How will you integrate the client and their stakeholders into the organization of the project? 
  • Can you show specific responsibilities, relationships, and deliverables within the chart? 
  • If you’re proposing for an IDIQ contract, consider showing the number of staff your team brings by discipline. Showing depth in your team will give the client comfort level that you can handle multiple, concurrent task orders. 
  • Consider providing information on additional office locations that may support the contract and how many local staff your team brings. 
  • Don’t just add company names for subcontractors. Include the names of people within the company who will be assigned, and include their resumes in Section E. 

Pro tip: Create a legend with symbols/logos or colors for each company to show who works for whom. While the evaluators want to see a cohesive team, this allows them to know who’s assigned to specific disciplines especially when it comes to primes giving meaningful roles to DBE firms. 

Section E: Resumes of Key Personnel Proposed for this Contract  

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Creating resumes is a drag. 

If you’ve been working at the same gig for a while, you may have forgotten how time consuming this can be. There’s just no way around it. The details must be there, and there is no room for mistakes. 

You may be tempted to think, “Hey, let’s speed up this process. I’ve got this handy boilerplate text here that I can copy and paste...” Resist! Like any other proposal, this is no place for generic, boilerplate language. One of the most important aspects of your SF330 is customizing and tailoring every resume included. That means including the specific language used in the RFP regarding services, even if that means changing terms like “preliminary design” to “concept design” to match the checklist evaluators will use. 

When building these resumes, get to the point quickly and prioritize: 

  • Appropriate experience 
  • Qualifications match RFP 
  • Readily available 
  • Proven track record 
  • Sell your people 
  • Uniformity with style and structure 

That’s because proposal reviewers are looking for education, experience, and certifications that match the requirements of the RFP. You may be tempted to add more qualifications that aren’t related to the RFP. While that may work in most situations, it won’t help your case with the SF330. 

  • If you’re proposing on an IDIQ contract, you may wonder how many personnel to show for each discipline (i.e., mechanical engineering). It’s not necessary to include multiple resumes to demonstrate capacity. That can by shown the numbers on your org chart. Because your score is always based on the weakest resume, it’s better to show one strong resume instead of one strong and three weak resumes. 
  • The projects on each person’s resume are PARTICULARLY important, so each project should align with Section F projects (and map accordingly so they know the project shown in 19.a of Susie’s resume is “Section F, Project #1”) 
  • The resume needs to show that Susie served in the same role for the five example projects that’s being proposed on the org chart. 
  • Specifically describe what Susie’s responsibilities are on each of the example projects. Don’t just use a boilerplate sentence or two about what the project was or what the company completed. The evaluators want to know what Susie did and what she accomplished. Follow this structure: 
    • Project Manager. One sentence describing the high-level details of the project. 
    • Responsibilities. One sentence describing what Susie did. 
    • Accomplishments. One sentence describing the impact Susie made or how she addressed a specific client challenge.
    • Size/Cost. Include details like SF and the cost. 

One more thing to remember about Block 18. This is a golden opportunity to set yourself apart by taking advantage of the freedom you have here. It may seem like this block is for career highlight reels, but you should tailor that highlight reel to sell your key personnel. Including a “key highlights” box with bullet points specific to the opportunity can strengthen your argument and be an easy attention grabber. This is also a chance to add color to sections of your form, drawing the reader’s attention even more. 

Section F: Example Projects Which Best Illustrate Proposed Team's Qualifications for this Contract  

Sure, you’re bringing some All-Stars to this project. But can your team win a title? 

If you follow basketball, then you are familiar with the “super team” trend after LeBron James joined the Miami Heat in 2010. While it worked out for the Heat (two championships, four straight Finals appearances), just filling a roster with great players does not always equate to winning. Team building in basketball is a lot more chemistry than algebra, and all the pieces must fit together toward the team’s collective goal. 

So now that we’ve established you’ve got a team of superstars, Section F is to show how you’re going to bring home a championship. 

To top half of the section is where you’ll list project details, but you’ll have a chance to get creative in Section 24 where you can include charts to fill in the required components. You’ll also want to address in the description the issues and drivers behind the project, the solutions executed, awards won, and quotes or recommendations from the client. A call-out box to highlight how a project applies to the RFP is a great way to get straight to the point for the reviewers. Being direct about how a project is relevant to their project keeps evaluators from making their own conclusions. 

This is also an excellent opportunity to incorporate graphics, images of each project, and charts to create “sound bites” to argue your case while also breaking up text. If you include a graphic/photo, don’t miss a chance to include a caption that aligns with your win themes and value proposition. 

For example, a Section F with too much white space can communicate with evaluators that you don’t have enough experience to fill the page. Take advantage of the opportunity to incorporate visual elements to further argue your case. 

Part 3 Coming up 

You understand the inner workings of the SF330, you know how to elevate Sections A-F, now it’s time to jump into the sections that can make the biggest difference for the success of your proposal: Sections G and H. We’ll do just that in Part 3 of our series. 

· Krystn Macomber CP APMP Fellow, LEED

Founder + Chief Executive Officer

Summit Strategy

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.