Tips for shredding RFPs quickly and accurately

Most companies want to minimize the time spent preparing Requests for Proposal (RFP) compliance matrices without skimping on accuracy. Typically, companies allow one to three days from the time they receive an RFP to the time the kickoff meeting occurs. Within that timeframe, proposal managers must also create kickoff slides, complete the proposal schedule, arrange team communications, prepare outlines and templates, and coordinate staff and logistics. So, being able to shred RFPs and develop compliance matrices and outlines quickly is essential.

Consider these factors before selecting the most efficient path to shredding RFPs and developing compliance matrices and outlines.

  1. Is the RFP simple, or is it large and complex with multiple documents?
  2. Does the RFP follow a straightforward organization with defined sections for instructions, evaluation criteria, and a statement of work (SOW)?
  3. Does the RFP use key words such as will, shall, and must to identify requirements?
  4. Are the instructions, evaluation criteria, and requirements contained in tables that are uniform grids, or are the tables nested or merged resulting in rows and columns of various sizes?

If the RFP is simple, you can probably shred the RFP by hand as quickly as using a tool. Also, some RFP shredder tools might stumble if the RFP has an unusual organization; contains instructions, evaluation criteria, and requirements in nested tables with merged cells; or does not use standard phrases such as will, shall, and must to identify requirements.

However, if you have a large RFP that follows a standard format, using an automatic RFP shredder tool can save hours of effort. Many RFP shredder tools require you to upload the RFP documents, label them, and deliver spreadsheets with each requirement on a separate line. It is then up to you to crosswalk the requirement to your proposal outline.

There are many RFP shredder tools on the market with a wide range of prices. Some tools simply shred the RFP, while others are attached to sophisticated document management systems. For example, some products provide a straightforward tool that enables you to shred an RFP and export each requirement to a separate line in an MS Excel spreadsheet. However, most proposal management systems offer a shredder as a component of a larger document management system. These systems enable you to requirements, build an outline, and export the outline into an MS Word document.

No matter which tool you use, always manually validate the tool outputs to detect issues that can introduce errors into the compliance matrix. Once you build your compliance matrix, consider using a peer reviewer to validate its content especially if the requirements are unclear, overlapping, or contradictory.

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 $170B 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 LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

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Lohfeld Consulting