7 Pitfalls To Avoid. How To Get a Polaris AwardApr 14, 2021
Don't forget to register for our webinar series on how to become a prime on the Polaris GWAC IDIQ. [Register HERE!]
We gave our proposal managers and contracts experts the current draft of the GSA Polaris RFP to find the biggest pitfalls they anticipate small businesses will have in responding. Avoiding these issues will increase your Pwin and keep you from wasting time, money, and effort on this proposal. Let's review them!
Pitfall #1: Not bidding, but for the wrong reasons.
It's true that there are a lot of eligibility requirements for GSA Polaris, and there are some non-negotiable disqualifiers [check them out here]. But don't count yourself out of a bid simply because you feel too busy now to get organized properly. With an anticipated five year master ordering period (plus a 5-year option period) and no maximum ceiling, this multiple award contract is a must-consider for all IT service-oriented small businesses!
RECOMMENDATION: Let a third-party help you plan and coordinate a compliant response now.
Pitfall #2: Crafting a faulty Bid Strategy.
Pitfall #3: Forming too big and too complex of a team.
Pitfall #4: Not preparing the right way (claims vs. evidence).
Pitfall #5: You think your past performance covers areas it doesn’t.
Pitfall #6: Ignoring or avoiding Emerging Technology project experience.
While the word "innovation" only shows up once in the draft RFP, the request for innovation through section L.5.2.3 Emerging Technology Relevant Experience, makes Polaris different, and frankly more exciting, than the standard IT/IS services contract. Here are the 6 emerging technologies (for the GSA's definitions of each click here).
- Advanced and Quantum Computing:
- Artificial Intelligence:
- Automation Technology:
- Distributed Ledger Technology:
- Edge Computing:
- Immersive Technology:
Larger primes may avoid bidding these areas and focus on the core requirements called the "Primary Performance Areas" in section L.220.127.116.11. If you are a niche player in emerging tech, you may not realize your value as a subcontractor. This contract is replacing Alliant 2 SB because that contract could not meet the evolving IT needs of its Federal customers, so innovation and emerging technology count here!RECOMMENDATION: Primes look for sub-contractors that score well with emerging tech projects and drive up their score and also show the client a broader range of services that extend into the future. Smaller emerging technology companies should market themselves to viable primes to get on Polaris.
Pitfall #7: Expecting "Work" without hard work.
Calibrate your definition of what success looks like on Polaris -- your goal should staying on the contract and making it work for you, not just winning the initial award. Think through how you will manage work once you're on the contract, and let that plan of action inform your strategic hiring, teaming, or business development decisions accordingly.
- Download our GSA Polaris eligibility checklist here
- Download our GSA Polaris self-assessment and gathering project documentation
- Sign up here for our GSA Polaris newsletter and get alerts on the contract as they happen.
- Sign up for updates from the GSA Small Business Community of Interest
- Verify your WOSB cert is in order or make updates at https://beta.certify.sba.gov