Missteps to avoid when using GSA’s Symphony Procurement Suite

Symphony ensures agencies are purchasing according to fair opportunity laws and rules.

GSA has adopted the Symphony Procurement Suite to manage its IDIQ contracts. This web-based, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) contract management and automation tool from Apex Logic allows government organizations to manage complex contracts. Symphony ensures agencies are purchasing according to fair opportunity laws and rules. GSA is still using eBuy and GSA Assist to manage task order deals—the use of Symphony is optional. However, it is the preferred way of the future. 

Who is using Symphony? 

Symphony was first used on the GSA OASIS program to provide oversight and management of the solicitation process, including proposal evaluations. It has also been used or will be used to capture bids for complex IDIQ vehicles like Polaris, ASTRO, OASIS+, Alliant 3, Evolve (Department of State), and OMNIBUS (Defense Health Agency).  

Symphony operates in the FEDRamp-certified AWS cloud, is completely compliant with FAR 16.5, 100% web-based, and uses open-source technology. GSA claims that to date, more than $7B in Federal Government orders have successfully been placed within Symphony, and all have been securely processed. 

GSA anticipates that Symphony’s easy-to-use interface will reduce the amount of time between solicitation and award. Many companies had a first introduction to the tool with the Polaris bid, which was limited to small businesses. Many more are now starting to access the portal and have registered for bids like OASIS+ and Evolve. 

Lessons learned… 

Having worked with the tool for almost a year, a few things have come up that may present challenges to bidders if they are unaware of them. First, know that anyone with access to your submission can see your GSA 527 Financial Form and your financial statements. This includes your teammates if you allow them access. There is no way for JV teammates to upload their GSA 527 Financial Form without allowing the JV lead to see them. The only workaround for this is to coordinate a separate submission of the form(s) to GSA. 

The IDIQ-level bids submitted in Symphony are typically self-scoring, and the portal calculates your score as eligible points are claimed and supporting documentation is submitted. As a result, there is no longer a separate scoresheet outside the portal that actually calculates your projected score. As you will discover, unclaiming and deleting supporting documentation is not always straightforward, since the file may be attached to multiple domains or submissions. Hence, a way to calculate your score before you start entering everything into the portal is highly suggested. (Contact me at MLesnick@LohfeldConsulting.com for information about Lohfeld Consulting’s OASIS+ score analysis/tracker spreadsheet.) 

Another thing I have discovered is that the construct of the submission dashboard for each bid follows a standard template designed to accommodate any and all qualifying and/or scoring elements that may be associated with your corporate profile or a proposed relevant project. For example, the portal offers opportunities to claim various certifications, clearances, and systems at the corporate level. However, for a particular bid, only a subset of those may actually count as scoring elements for that submission. Similarly, a project may have qualifying or scoring elements associated with number of FTEs, work location, OCONUS work, subcontracting, etc. Again, not all of these elements relate to every bid.  

READ THE RFP and be sure you enter data for any element that is needed to qualify or score your proposal. You can enter data for non-required elements, but that data will be ignored in the evaluation. I have found companies struggling to find proof of work locations because that element is in the portal, but it is not actually required for the contract they are bidding. Use your time to focus on those elements that count! 

Need additional help? 

Using an outside consultant like Lohfeld Consulting Group can help guide you through the project selection and score analysis process. Contact us for more information and to get a copy of our score analysis/tracker spreadsheet. 

By Maryann Lesnick, Managing Director at Lohfeld Consulting Group, CP APMP, PMP, CSM, MOS

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 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 www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.