Compliance Matrix – A Key Step in All RFP Processes


What Is a Compliance Matrix?

A compliance matrix, alternatively called a compliance traceability matrix, is a valuable cross-referencing tool used in proposal development. It assists proposal managers by helping them ensure the proposal is written in compliance with the request for proposal (RFP). It’s an important document because developing a compliant proposal is the critical first step towards winning the bid.

To create a compliance matrix, begin with a thorough reading of the RFP. Starting from the beginning and, in a sequential fashion, each time a proposal requirement is identified, list it on the matrix. The compliance matrix should capture the requirement, the location of the requirement in the RFP, and the location in the proposal where the corresponding response appears.

At the start of writing, the compliance matrix informs the layout of the proposal outline. After the proposal is complete, it becomes a proofing tool. The matrix is used to double check that every RFP requirement found its way into the proposal.

The compliance matrix template below provides a bit of additional functionality as well. It doubles as a status tracking tool because it captures the name of the person to whom the writing was assigned and the status of the writing.

Who Creates the Compliance Matrix?

The compliance traceability matrix is created by the proposal manager. It could be created or reviewed by any number of people on the proposal team but ultimately, the document is owned by the proposal manager. It’s his or her duty to ensure the proposal is compliant with the RFP instructions.

What Are The Inputs?

The Request for Proposal (RFP) is the input to creating the compliance matrix.

Defining Compliance & Responsiveness

In this particular article, compliance is simply ensuring that your proposal meets all the requirements highlighted in the RFP. Complying with RFP’s requirements will entail creating various sections to ensure every requirement is delved on. Depending on the nature of the RFP, matrices may contain different sections. 

How Is It Used?

The compliance matrix is used to prove that the proposal complies with the requirements found in the RFP. Every requirement found in the RFP is listed on the compliance matrix. Alongside each requirement, the location of the proposed response is noted.

Matrix containing four sections highlighted below:

Section L – Contains the Preparation Instructions

Section M – Highlights everything relating to the Evaluation Criteria

SOW/PWS – The section gives the Performance Requirements

Other RFP – Any other Additional Requirements are listed here.

NOTE: SOW is an abbreviation for Statement of Work and it’s a portion of a contract which establishes all the unspecified requirements either directly or by use of cited documents. On the other hand PWS is an abbreviation for Performance Work Statement used mostly for performance-based acquired contracts and describes vivid, specific and concise objects with measurable income.

Responsiveness is how well you must cover various sections in your proposal compliance matrix without beating about the bush. Creating a good proposal matrix is not putting too much effort on the SOW/PWS but it’s rather a matter of fully meeting the evaluation criteria. The common compliance problems include lack of full dissection and attention to all section statements, missing out some production requirements, over-compliance, developing a response solely around the PWS/SOW and making assumptions instead of seeking clarification when one is trying to beat the deadline.

How to write a business proposal compliance matrix in response to an RFP?

Every business wants to have its proposal accepted after submitting their proposal in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP). This is where the proposal compliance matrix sets in and can help you. It is a very important tool used in unraveling the requirements concealed in a complex RFP. A compliance matrix is normally created before writing an outline of your proposal. Where an RFP has numerous sections and sub-sections, each with its requirements, it can be difficult to create a proposal that meets all requirements. Creating a proposal compliance matrix can help showcase your company’s ability to comply with as many of the requirements listed in the RFP as possible. This article will tackle every aspect involved in the creation of a thorough business proposal compliance matrix.

Pay attention to the following step-wise approach that can help you create a decent compliance matrix.

Steps to Creating a Great Compliance Matrix

STEP 1: Selecting the review team

As said earlier, without this matrix, your proposal will be as good as dead because this is a tool that responds to all the requirements stated in the RFP. A good matrix tool starts with selecting a team of personnel. A team should be comprised of:

The Proposal Manager The manager is in charge and responsible for everything relating to the matrix right from the time the RFP is released through to the proposal submission.

The Review Team Leader He/she utilizes the compliance matrix to add or subtract anything from the Proposal Strategy Review team (the blue team) and the 95-98% Solution team (the red team) reviews.

The Volume Leader – He/she uses the compliance matrix to search for places where the volume responds to individual RFP requirements.

STEP 2: Developing the major sections required

Having selected the review team, create three sections that aims at providing answers to each and every question in the RFP. This is the heart of your tool and it defines whether your proposal is going to be accepted or rejected. These sections are:

The RFP Section

This section has two sub-columns: Section/Page/Paragraph and Requirement. The proposal manager inputs the identified RFP requirements alongside their location into the RFP section. The manager should do this carefully ensuring that the list created is a direct reflection of the requirements in the letter of transmittal, any referenced documents such as the CDRL and general introductory statements. This should include all the requirements in the RFP section.

Sometimes, parts of the RFP may contain run-on sentences, long, detailed and hard-to-read instructions. It’s the work of the manager to retype these difficult parts before placing it in the RFP section so that the review process becomes easier. The best way to do this is by placing various statements in point form. By doing this way, matching the RFP requirements in your proposal would have been made simpler.

Proposal Response Section

This is the part where the volume team leader plays a crucial part. The leader fills all the parts of the “Proposal Response” section of the compliance matrix ensuring that all the content and the organization of the volume blends with the RFP requirements. Also, the volume leader identifies the proposal volume, section/page, and paragraph number for the requirements listed in the RFP section.

Comments and Actions Section

The review team leader uses blue team and red team reviews to make some comments and introduces changes if need be. He verifies all the RFP requirements that are highlighted and makes sure that the proposal is responsive and complies with each of the stated RFP requirements. This involves cross checking RFP compliance for all volumes. This section contains notes about the status of the proposal response. Moreover, he will note down the non-compliant responses, potential problems and any other issues which can easily raise eyebrows.

STEP 3: Review schedule

After placing everything in its place, schedule a day for putting reviewing the entire proposal compliance matrix. The schedule will allow you to set goals, identify bottlenecks and plan for submission dates. Ensure that the schedule is set within 48 hours of the RFP release date. Apply resources to the schedule and determine where resource gaps exists.

By now you should be able to create at least a decent proposal compliance matrix. Your table matrix should show you what requirements must be addressed in any given section. It should also enable reviewers to validate that all the requirements have been adequately responded to and make easier for you to understand the RFP better. Note that the matrix should be put forth at the beginning of the proposal writing and it should state all the requirements contained in the Proposal Outline for all the volumes. Team leaders for each section must identify specific location of the proposal requirements in the matrix. They should then verify that the matrix is accurate and complete before it’s submitted alongside the proposal.

Compliance Matrix - A key step in all RFP processes
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Compliance Matrix - A key step in all RFP processes
A compliance matrix or compliance traceability matrix is a valuable cross-referencing tool used in proposal development. It assists proposal managers by helping them ensure the proposal is written in compliance with the request for proposal (RFP.) It’s an important document because developing a compliant proposal is the critical first step towards winning the bid.
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Plianced Inc.
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