Focusing on Results in Past Performance

There is an art to developing highly rated past performance descriptions.  As Ms. Brooke Crouter of the Lohfeld Consulting Group pointed out at a May 19, 2010 meeting of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, successful past performance descriptions focus on results.

To receive a high score on your past performance descriptions, you must go beyond answering a requirement or explaining what you did.  Instead, you must demonstrate to the evaluators that you had a measurable and positive impact on fulfilling the contract.

Below are examples of mediocre-to-excellent past performance statements:

  • Mediocre:  Established a recycling system.
  • Adequate:  Established a recycling system to dispose of sensitive and classified documents safely and ecologically.
  • Excellent:  Established a recycling system to dispose of sensitive and classified documents safely and ecologically that resulted in recycling documents 30 percent faster with a 20 percent reduction in costs.

Many organizations have trouble developing past performance statements because they do not gather current information about government contracts until they bid on a subsequent contract.  This is a recipe for disaster.  It is very difficult to gather accurate information about past contracts once the contract ends.

Contract personnel may leave and data may not be collected or conveniently stored.  As a result, during the proposal development process you may spend precious time simply trying to find basic information about past contracts.  Under these circumstances, information about performance results is difficult to capture.

One of the best ways to focus on results in past performance is to keep current and accurate data about contracts during the contract period.  All Program Managers should keep past performance data on their current contracts, and organizations should maintain a database with past performance templates where data can be entered and accessed.

In past performance, it is not enough to demonstrate that you have done the work.  You must show skeptical reviewers that you have done the work well, which means focusing on measurable results.

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