GSA Polaris: 3 Things you can do RIGHT NOW to PrepareSep 16, 2021
If you’re a Small Business (especially a HUBZone or WOSB) that provides IT services, then you’ve probably been watching and waiting for an update on GSA’s upcoming GWAC Polaris.
After all, the draft RFP has been on the streets since January! At Trident, we’ve been busy since the spring recommending strategies to improve your odds for selection in GSA Polaris both in our blogs and during our webinars, but as we get closer to the final RFP release, you might be wondering what you should be focusing on now. We’ve put together a quick refresher on how to use this time to reduce your stress once the final solicitation hits!
Before you dive into the list below, if you haven’t already, you must verify that you are eligible. We’ve created a simple Checklist to do so. Take a look at the Draft RFP and our checklist and then move on to tackling our recommendations below.
The best thing you can do is make sure all your ducks are in a row now so that your team can focus on fine-tuning and perfecting your proposal later, so here’s where we recommend focusing your efforts:
Dust Off Your Documentation
This is easy! The Draft RFP has clear guidelines for the documentation that they will accept and this is really unlikely to change with the final RFP, so pulling everything together now with ensuring that you can focus your time later on tuning your documentation and your projects. An easy way to ensure you have your documents straight is to verify them against our checklists here.
Pro Tip: As you prepare your documentation, don’t forget to touch base with the customers/agencies you supported. Polaris has a certification aspect, meaning your prior clients will need to validate your experience claims—check in now with them so they aren’t surprised later on when you ask for their final certification. If you notice any changes you need to be made in your SOW or any of your documentation, now is the time to get those changes made so that your work qualifies for use with Polaris.
Plan Your Past Performance Placement
Can we say it again for the people in the back? Relevant experience and past performance are going to be a HUGE deal on Polaris GSA. This heavily weighted content has a few caveats that can sink your proposal. You are only allowed to use a project once per pool—across all teams, across all proposals—just ONCE. It is vital that you decide where your past performance examples shine and give you the best point-scoring leverage.
If you haven’t seen it yet, we have an excellent evaluation tool that helps you narrow down your experience within the GSA Polaris context. This can help you rack and stack what you have done so that you can perfect how you use your projects. You’ll want projects that meet the minimum dollar threshold for value, fall within the cutoff time period, and have Satisfactory (or hopefully better) CPARS ratings. Throw out anything else because it won’t do you any favors.
The goal with your relevant experience and past performance examples is to earn as many points as possible. Remember: The Government will award this contract from the top down—those offerors with the highest point scores will get the award, so every point matters!
Make a Plan to Succeed
It’s okay if you can’t do it all! In the short term, think through strategic teaming to help cover any performance area or emerging technology gaps that you have. While there isn’t a minimum number of areas you need to cover to be eligible for an award, you can expect that the highest scorers will be those companies (or more likely, teams) that can cover the widest range of performance areas and emerging technology capabilities.
And don’t forget to think about what you’ll need to do to be successful post-award! The work doesn’t stop once you’re onboarded into Polaris—you’ll be managing the GWAC contract and the projects from that point, and competition at the task order level will be intense! Make sure you’re making the right business development investments and building the right relationships now so that you can stay on the contract!
CONCLUSION: Don't make the mistake of waiting too long to get ready for Polaris -- the steps you take now can help you prepare for a smooth, successful submission once the final RFP is released. As always, Trident is here to help! Whether you just need an unbiased qualification check or know you’ll need full-on proposal preparation support, we are here for you. Contact us today to see how we can help your team succeed!
Don't forget to register for our webinar series on how to become a prime on the Polaris GWAC IDIQ. [Register HERE!]