Apply the “Peanut Butter and Jelly” Approach to your Government Proposal

How can you apply the “peanut butter and jelly” approach to government proposal development?

Robert S. Frey, an expert on proposal development and the author of a fine book on the subject –Successful Proposal Strategies for Small Businesses:  Using Knowledge Management to Win Government, Private Sector, and International Contracts (2002) – recommends what he calls a “peanut butter and jelly” model.  This involves asking fundamental questions and then applying them to the Request for Proposals (RFP).

The key to understanding is to comprehend the customer’s mission; the customer’s hopes, fears, and critical issues and current state of the program or task; and the future state of the program.  As Frey says, it is all about the customer, not you.

In response, the key to your approach should be how you will fully meet your customer’s requirements and service-level expectations.  This means addressing people assets; process assets; knowledge assets; and technology assets and tools.  As Frey says, it is all about how you will support the customer.

In the “peanut butter and jelly model,” you structure your approach by focusing on the following:

  • People:  program and task leadership and subject matter experts.
  • Processes:  industry-standard methodologies.
  • Knowledge:  specific skill sets and certifications.
  • Technology:  automated tools that your company will apply, such as risk management software and project management applications.

To make a tasty sandwich, you need to answer these crucial questions in your approach:

  • Who on the team will manage the levels of performance?
  • What structured processes will the project team apply to this task?
  • Where will the project team be located to serve the customer?
  • When will process improvements result in tangible costs saving to the government?
  • Why is our solution superior in terms of performance and results?
  • How will the project team use IT to improve the government agency’s operational environment?
  • How many staff and what skill mix are required to successfully perform the contract?

As Frey reminds us, most federal competitive opportunities require understanding and approach sections.  Descriptive writing is not sufficient to convey genuine understanding, and your approach must be concrete and demonstrate that you will perform the contract in an exemplary fashion.

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