Event Recap: TxDOT Proposals 101

Norma Glasscock, PEPS Fort Worth Service Center Manager for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), spoke to SMPS Fort Worth on Thursday, September 28 about best practices for preparing successful TxDOT proposals. The sold-out event was a huge hit. Here are a few notes on what Norma shared.

Introduction

 

  • Norma Glasscock
  • PEPS Fort Worth Service Center Manager
  • A member of the LEAD program that originally established the Professional Engineering Procurement Service in 2013
  • Fort Worth Service Center Manager since 2014

 

Successful NLC’s

  • Check the Minimum Requirements
    • Requesting one person or more
    • Require a P.E. registered in the state of Texas
    • Provide the License Number
    • Years of experience its requested
      • List the beginning month and year as well as the ending month and year
      • Understand that the projects may overlap but the time will not be counted twice
        • Example:  1/16 to 5/16 (5 months) and 3/16 to 12/16 (10 months), This would be 12 months, not 15 months
      • Three projects occurring in the same year does not equal 3 years’ experience
  • Demonstrated experience
    • Do not just list projects, provide the role and responsibilities performed
  • Review of the NLCs
    • Pass/Fail. The content of the NLC attachment will not be evaluated.
    • PEPS procedure, review by SME on the CST and the Procurement Engineer
    • FTW procedure, review by SME on the CST and the Service Center Manager
    • Breakdown NLC Minimum requirements and check each requirement individually
    • Any NLC qualification in question for disqualification
      • SCM, Procurement Engineer, and SME discuss the issues
    • Notify the PEPS Division Director on any disqualification and the basis for that disqualification

Tips to Answer RFQ Questions

  • Human Element
    • Every CST is different
  • Keys that seem to be common
    • Good formatting
      • Headings that follow the elements of the question
      • Mixture of dialogue and bullets
    • Good flow
      • Follow the question, no hunting for the answer
      • Concise language
    • Do not start with a marketing introduction
    • Answer the question
      • Common element in top contenders, immediately start with the answer to the question
  • Introduce your team
    • Weave the team member into the answer, make the team relatable
      • John Doe has used this approach on the No Name Project
      • This was his challenge
      • This was his solution
      • This was the benefit to his client
      • Short and concise

How to Prepare a Successful Proposal

  • GOOD FORMATTING
    • The formatting sets the stage for the proposal
      • Clean
      • Concise
  • Use the experience of the PM and the Key Task Leads in addressing the topics
      • Don’t just provide a resume of the PM and Key Task Leads
      • Demonstrate through the topics that the team was built to address the contract needs

**It is your space to use as you see beneficial--- If you feel there is expertise on your team not covered in the topics that is relevant to the needs of the contract, use a portion of the space to share with the evaluator.

 

Question and Answers:

Q&A #1:

What should we use for bullets in the Question and Response template? It is not very user friendly.

  • PEP’s is working on a solution to make the template more user friendly.

 

Q&A #2:

How do you score extra information included in the response that is relevant to the question?

  • There is a section in the scoring for extra relevant information.

 

Q&A #3:

Will we have access to the PowerPoint slides shown today?

  • The PowerPoint slides have been provided to all who registered and attended.

 

Q&A #4:

Do the same principles of filling out a PEPs form apply to a Design-Build form?

  • Yes

 

Q&A #5:

Do you read or skim through submittals?

  • We read each submittal thoroughly. It is unfortunately hard to stand out amongst a lot of submittals.

 

Q&A #6:

If the format is so important, why are we not given much freedom on how to format the forms?

  • We had a lot of people abusing the formatting. There are still ways to format in the text box.

 

Q&A #7:

When will the NLC’s go away?

  • Within the next six months.

 

Q&A #8:

Will the preclusions list go away?

  • It depends on the fairness of the RFQ. Just because one did the schematic phase does not mean they should do the PS&E.

 

Q&A #9:

Will submittals eventually be electronic?

  • This will likely happen within the next two years. There is an issue with security and electronic submissions.

 

Q&A #10:

Do other districts follow the same procedures?

  • All districts have the same guidelines. However, there is some subjectivity due to human condition.

 

Q&A #11:

Why are the qualifications so strict?

  • The reviewers are looking for expertise for the project.

 

Q&A #12:

When a new RFQ comes out, may we ask why they require certain years of experience?

  • Ask during the allotted time you may submit questions.

 

Q&A #13:

May we know more information about the team selection committee?

  • Norma Glasscock will ask.

 

Q&A #14:

What is the scoring criteria for questions that have multiple parts?

  • That question will have scoring criteria for each part.

 

Q&A #15:

What is the scoring criteria for CST forms?

  • The forms are scored as 1 – 5. If you receive a three, it means you met the criteria required to answer the question. Firms who scored a four or a five not only met the criteria, but stood out from the others. They have something to offer to TxDOT. They can save TxDOT time and money.

 

Q&A #16:

Is it required to use the maximum character limit?

  • It is better to use all of your space.

Q&A #17:

How does TxDOT decide how much space is needed to answer a question?

  • They base it on how much information is required to answer the question.

 

Q&A #18:

Why does the NLC character count vary?

  • TxDOT is making sure that you have ample amount of space to answer the question. Do not worry if you do not use all of the space provided with NLC questions.

 

Q&A #19:

May we know more about the project than what is already provided?

  • Do not worry about the scope so much. Focus more on providing a good Project Manager. The scope provided varies based on the district.

 

Q&A #20:

Will the issue of opening some documents in the RFQ be resolved?

  • TxDOT is still working on the issue.

 

Q&A #21:

How does TxDOT determine when to send out a Questions and Answer document for a RFQ? TxDOT does not always issues this document on each RFQ?

  • TxDOT may get questions they cannot answer.

 

Q&A #22:

What NLC’s will become qualifications?

  • Utility, Public Involvement, and Design Utilization.

 

Q&A #23:

Why would TxDOT not request a major category to be represented at an interview?

  • It depends on who they want to talk to in the interview.

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Event Recap: How to Brand People

“Your brand is what Google says it is.”

Cathy Hutchison, CPSM, SMPS Dallas Chapter member and Marketing Director at Idibri (Acoustic Consultants), challenged us to identify and capitalize upon our personal brand and support our staff to do the same. Read more on her blog. Cathy presented to SMPS Fort Worth on the following:

 

  • How to Craft Your Image

    • Add contact information to resumes.

    • Focus social media feed on technical information and thought leadership – where staff is presenting, articles they are writing, etc.

    • Image can be designed.

    • If you aren’t using your social media channels professionally, mark them private.

    • Fill out your MySMPS profile – it ranks high in Google.

    • Optimize your LinkedIn profile and take your name.

    • Take yourself out of organic search.

    • Put full name in copy to push it up a few more times.

    • If you share a name with a celebrity, you will lose.

    • Control what you can control.

      • Photos

      • Messaging

      • Platforms

        • Pinterest – mostly women

        • Instagram – artsy (Architects tend to use it well.)

        • LinkedIn – most important for professional network

    • Grab your social media name everywhere, even if you don’t plan on using it.

    • Invest in great headshots.

      • Make sure headshots match your culture – friendly and accessible = no jackets/ties.

      • Your expression matters.

    • Messaging – what’s the big idea of your brand? For Idibri, it’s engagement.

    • Issues – determine specialist(s) for each issue.

    • Keep people on brand and message.

    • Brand takes a long time to permeate.

    • Tagline

      • Use the strengths from Strengths Finder 2.0 to identify to help identify three words that define your personal brand.

      • Strengths Finder 2.0 has some great language to use as a starting point for staff bios.

  • Benefits of Differentiation

    • Differentiation makes you memorable.

    • Physical differentiators stick in people’s heads. Use color, unique history, quirks, hobbies, and niche to differentiate your brand.

 

  • You Can Win at SEO

    • Use an uncolored browser (like duckduckgo) to search for yourself without bias.

    • File name matters: firstname-lastname.

    • Buy your domain name.

    • Use wix.com or blogger or WordPress to put up a one page website.

    • Make sure your name is somewhere in the text.

    • What you name your bio pages matters.

    • Name subpages.

    • Google likes hyphen better than underscore.

    • Be consistent with your language on your profiles.

    • Leverage LinkedIn’s ranking.

  • Bio copy

    • Write two years ahead – for where you are going. Allows for visualization.

    • Be truthful and authentic.

    • Link to email and social media.

    • If culture is risk adverse, don’t offer contact info online.

    • LinkedIn

      • Reset settings.

        • Share profile edits – no

        • Who can see your connection – on (if appropriate)

        • Viewers who also viewed – off

      • Activity matters – show longevity at your firm by listing current position with previous positions in the narrative.

    • Write bio that connects – first person (unless government SF330 – then third person).

    • Use personal messages.

    • Quantify your bio.

    • Research people that write bios well for inspiration.

 

Additional Notes:

  • Read Rainmaking by Ford Harding.

  • Use social media scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite.

  • Post to your city’s “People on the Move” (Bizjournal).

  • Pitch ideas to trade magazines.

  • Headline is most important.

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