How to build the coverage matrix between your bid and an RFP with no formalized requirement

This tutorial solves a common problem for people who regularly write bids. The RFP – request for proposal – contains several requirements.

Introduction

A coverage matrix between your bid and the RFP helps your customer to:

  1. Check that the RFP he has carefully written has been fully read and covered
  2. Find exactly where a requirement is taken into account in your bid
  3. Check where your bid does not fully fit a requirement
  4. Navigate between his RFP structure and your bid structure

It is therefore good practice to send such matrices. Unfortunately most RFPs have no formalized requirements. The only way to identify a sub-part of the RFP is to use the chapter numbers. In this case, you have to create a table in your bid presenting where and how each RFP chapter has been covered.

For example:

RFP § BID § COMMENT
§1 Introduction §1.2 Context
§1.1 Overview §1.2 Context
§2.4.2 Graphical User interface §2.2.3 Rich client application Windows platforms only are supported

With an RFP in MS Word with few chapters (less than 20 for example), this can be done manually by :

  • copying the table of contents in the first column
  • completing it with lower chapter levels that are not listed in the table of contents
  • manually completing the BID and COMMENT columns

However, with an RFP in PDF format where text cannot be easily copied, or with a huge RFP with hundreds of chapters, or whenever your boss asks you to update your bid chapter structure just before the end of RFP countdown time, this matrix becomes a dreadful nightmare…  🙁

Have you never dreamed of a simple method for automatically building and updating this matrix?

Reqchecker makes this possible.

Step 1 – Create a Reqchecker project

The first first step consists in creating a project and including the files: RFP and proposal.

Let’s take an RFP with the following chapter structure:

1.0 Company
2.0 Purpose
3.0 Objectives
4.0 Target Audiences
5.0 Criteria for Evaluating the Success of a PR Agency
6.0 Query Handling
7.0 Accuracy
8.0 Rights Reserved
9.0 Award of Contract
10.0 Confidentiality

First of all you must create the project file. To make things easier all documents can be stored in the same folder, for example called ‘matrix’. Right click on the RFP, then click on “Add to coverage” menu to create an empty project.

Double click on the .cover file to update the project settings:

  • Select the RFP in the file list.
  • Select ‘Heading’ in the ‘Data Source Information’ section.
  • Click on the ‘Edit’ button and force the file code to ‘RFP’.
  • Click on the ‘Add File’ button.
  • Select the bid file in the file browser. In this example the name is ‘My BID.docx’.
  • Select the BID file from the file list.
  • Select ‘None’ in the ‘Data Source Information’ section to skip the heading of the bid itself.
  • Click on the ‘File’ menu, then ‘Save’ to save your modifications.

Step 2 – Insert tags in your proposal

Insert a coverage tag wherever your proposal answers a chapter, or part of a chapter, of the RFP.

For example, the RFP text contains:

12.0 Project Duration
12.1 The project will commence on 1 February 2015, and will be completed by 31 July 2015.
12.2 Dates of commencement and completion of the project shall be stated in the contract. 

Let’s imagine that the associated chapter in the proposal is:

1 Overview
2 Technical proposal
3 Administrative proposal
3.1 Schedule
The project duration is 6 months. The project starts 2 weeks after order.
The estimated schedule is:
- 15th January: order
- 1st February: project kick-off 
- 31th July: final delivery
<<RFP§12.0>> <<RFP§12.1>> <<RFP§12.2>>

The <<RFP§12.0>> text  is the tag indicating that this chapter fully covers the requirements of RFP chapter §12.0.

To keep the proposal legible, tags are usually written in grey in a small font. Good practice recommends using a Word style. In this way you can, if required, hide tags by selecting font size 1 and white.

Tag syntax is defined in the Reqchecker ‘Coverage’ tab and can be modified:

 

Coverage tags can embed more information. For example:

  • <<RFP§12.0>> #Partial means that not all requirements are covered here.
  • <<RFP§12.0>> #Uncovered means that requirements are not covered in the proposal. The final coverage rate will be reduced.
  • <<RFP§12.0>> #NA means that requirements are not applicable to the scope of the bid. They will be ignored and the the final coverage rate will not be reduced.
  • <<RFP§12.0>> #Uncovered 25% means that only 25% of requirements are not covered. This allows a fine tuning that presents the highest rate possible to the customer.
  • <<RFP§12.0>> #C this is a comment will register a comment in the coverage matrix. This is a custom coverage tag. It is possible to create several tags to manage coverage.

All of these can be combined. For example : <<RFP§12.0>> #Partial 50% <<RFP§12.0>> #NA 25% <<RFP§12.0>> #Uncovered 25% #C This will be covered by a another proposal. means that 50% of this chapter is covered, 25% is uncovered and 25% is inapplicable to the bid.

Step 3 – Generate the coverage matrix

Click on the ‘Report / Coverage Matrix’ menu to build the EXCEL matrix.

The first tab presents the coverage rate in a pie chart. Select the second tab ‘Matrix’ tab. Remove or hide unwanted columns and filter on the §12.0. The resulting display will be something like:

You can either copy the matrix into your proposal, or click on the ‘Report / Coverage Full Report’ menu to attach the detailed PDF version.

Step 4 – Update the coverage matrix

Here you can replace the RFP with an updated matrix, or update your proposal. Even if you move chapters of your proposal or text around, or if you make any other kind of modification, just re-compute the report to get an updated matrix within a few seconds.

 

 

Reqchecker 1.6.0 is ready

Build 1343 May 2017

  • Leaf requirements : This new tag defines that the requirement is leaf. A leaf requirement is covered by default; it must not be explicitly covered. The default tag value is #Leaf and can be customized. Leaf requirement have a correct status in the reports. The status can be error if it is covered, has several statements etc. Example:

[REQ_02] The red light must be on if the sub-system raises an alert.

<<DSC_0012>> #Partial <<DSC_0013>> #Leaf

  • Statement from heading numbers is available for MS Word 97 documents
  • Management rate : the rate of requirement explicitly managed, excluding requirement with error. The coverage rate is the coverage rate excluding not applicable and not managed requirements. For example let 3 requirements covered, 1 explicitly not covered, 2 not applicable and 4 not yet managed, with a total of 10 requirements. The management rate is 60% (6/10) and the coverage rate is 75% (3/4).
  • Coverage rate can be detailed in percentage. The coverage rate is more accurate, especially if requirements are not unitary.

For example:

<<REQ_0040>> #Partial 13%

<<REQ_0040>> #Partial 30%

<<REQ_0040>> #Partial 40%

<<REQ_0040>> #NA 17%

  • Updated PDF report with new look and rates
  • Performance improvement about 20%
  • Graphical user interface and tooltips are available in German
  • Display §beginning for position found before the first encountered chapter in PDF or WORD documents.
  • (PRO version only) The text of custom tag without end marker stops at the end of line (previous behaviour) or when another tag if read. This allows to write all tags on the same line.
  • (PRO version only) Eclipse content assistance: C++ and Java developers can import the requirement definition and use the Eclipse IDE content assistant (CTRL+SPACE) to select the requirement and insert coverage.

  • (PRO version only) Standalone report : The links to source documents in Verification and Coverage Matrix report are relative if the document are stored in the same folder. In this case the report and the documents can be opened on another computer. New option “EXCEL Hyperlinks” generates EXCEL reports without hyperlinks to source documents.
  • (PRO version only) Verification report update : The verification report can be updated without losing the entered results. The new / updated / deleted requirements are merged, updated cells have yellow background and a comment with a visual comparison between old and new value. The RESULT column is updated too: “(added)” for new requirement, “(updated)” for modified requirements, “(deleted)” for deleted requirements. The merge work with both syntax and heading statement mode. Custom tag are included in comparison. Column can be moved, but column name in header must remain unchanged.

 

  • (PRO version only) Multiple value for list custom fields : The predefined list type custom tag accepts multiple values ​​separated by punctuation (comma, semi-colon, space, non-breaking space). Each value is checked to verify that it belongs to the value list declared in the .cover file. Example:
<DSL_0123> Title
Text
#EndText
#Category A, B
  • (PRO version only) Multiple statements are listed in the coverage matrix and highlighted in the verification report. This help to find and fix them.