Five Tips for Describing Complexity

Most requests for proposal (RFPs) ask you to define past performance in terms of relevant size, scope and complexity. The term size is easy to understand because it is numeric. Size refers to the dollar value of the contract, the number of staff, the number of users served, the number of locations served, etc.

Scope is also easy to understand too. We simply compare how well the requirements in the RFP’s statement of work or align with those of our past performance reference. For example, in the case of a help desk, does the help desks deliver the same tiers of service, support the same equipment, or use the same tools and processes to perform their jobs?

However, the term complexity is vague. Complexity could involve many factors including the:

  • Involvement of many teams or stakeholders
  • Numerous moving parts
  • Numerous schedule dependencies
  • Aggressive project timelines
  • Budget / restraints
  • Work in remote locations
  • Complex scientific, mathematical or engineering work

To earn the best possible score for demonstrating complexity, consider these five tips:

  • Tip #1: Provide a brief overview of the complexity of your past performance reference to the RFP requirements using factors such as those described above.
  • Tip #2: Drill down on each the major requirements listed in the RFP and describe how your past performance is of equal complexity. Provide quantitative or qualitative proof that demonstrates your past performance reference is of equal complexity.
  • Tip #3: Provide a brief example of how you overcame a complex challenge or mitigated a risk.
  • Tip #4: Provide examples of the sophisticated skills or expertise that your team used to address complex requirements or complex hardware or software your configured or developed.
  • Tip 5: Demonstrate how you can lead teams to address complex problems and accomplish your tasks on schedule and within budget.

By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals.
As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Go-to-Market Strategy, Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $135B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at and join us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.