Newest Exercise-Based Courses
Writing Better Proposal Introductions
Capturing the Customer's Perspective in Writing
How can we help you?
- readiness reviews
- content planning
- proposal quality validation
- proposal management
- quality validation
- strategic planning
- lessons learned
- Executive Summaries
- bid strategies
- bid/no bid
- proposal recipes
- business development
- Proposal Writing
- proposal software
- government proposals
- past performance
- visual communication
- small business
- roles and responsibilities
- proposal reviews
- government contracting
Connecting the winning proposal to the work that follows
Often, there is little or no connection between what companies say in their proposals and what they do after award. The same is true for business plans and startups. The staff doing the work often have not even read the proposal. There is also little or no linkage between the software used to plan and price the proposal and what is used to fulfill the project.
The most integration usually occurs in the invoicing system. What you bill has to match the contract. If things like hours, rates, and materials are specified as contract line items, they need to be accounted for.
Contract management is not the same as project management
Contract management and accounting software are highly specialized and usually don't address the needs of project management or proposal management. They may list those things as features (and often do), but they're almost never useful in practice because they were created with the wrong perspective. Tracking financials and contract compliance is different from getting something built or accomplished. Billing and contract compliance are things that project staff have to do, but they don't view these as tools they need to accomplish the project, nor is it software most of the project staff will ever interact with.
You might think that the proposal is the first step in setting up how you'll manage the projects, but it is very rare for companies to follow through like that. You might think that with the importance of past performance to winning proposals, there would be a tight connection between project management and the management volume of the proposal, but the people who come up with the win strategies and proposed techniques are often not the ones who actually work on the projects.
It’s not really a software problem at all
In any event, it's more about having integrated procedures than it is a software problem. Standardizing how contract line items get implemented, billed, and reported is a procedural problem. It might link to a document management or accounting system, but that link will be driven by standards and procedures and not by software.
An approach that’s worked for us
Try creating a project start-up manual template. Focus it on the first 90 days of a new contract. Copy and paste key passages from the proposal into it. Include things like budgets, hiring procedures, schedules, quality control, organization chart, deliverables, reporting formats, etc.
It will be similar to the management plan or transition plan in the proposal, but with a completely different purpose. It’s not about convincing, it’s about specifying procedures. It’s a tool. It accelerates the process of getting the project staff up to speed and it informs them of the promises that have been made on their behalf.
There are over a dozen recipes in PropLIBRARY to help inspire, accelerate, and guide writing a management plan for a proposal. Those same recipes can help you figure out what to put in your project start-up manual.
Remember to provide a feedback loop
You can count on the project staff not liking some of those promises. You can count on them wanting to do things differently. In some cases, it will be their prerogative. In others, they’ll have to live with what was proposed. It is best when you can minimize how often that occurs. If you capture the things they want to do differently, future proposals can reflect those changes. You should intentionally set up a feedback loop.
One way to do that is to have them complete the manual. Treat it as a draft for them to complete in order to show how they’ll perform the project. You can think of it as a hand-off from the proposal team to the project team.
How this can improve your win rate
Doing this will help ensure that your company delivers as promised, which will improve your past performance ratings. It will also make your bids better reflect reality and may increase the detail, especially over time. And it’s a way to get project staff involved with proposals and thinking about win strategies and innovation between bids. This is how it can have a positive impact on your win rates.
Back to the problem
The folks who write the proposals aren’t responsible for project performance. Project staff aren’t responsible for the proposal. The folks in contracts will ensure compliance, but that’s as far as they go. So who’s going to go to the effort of creating the procedures and who’s going to enforce them across organizational boundaries? The difference between good companies that can win some business and perform adequately, and great companies who win more business because they consistently exceed expectations, is that great companies have solved that problem.
There are plenty of other free articles like this in our Article Library. Enjoy them and show us some love by using the social buttons up top to share them with others.
Our free articles openly discuss the theory and foundations behind our recommendations and are intended to provide some help for people who want to build their own solutions. For those who want something they can implement immediately, PropLIBRARY provides the templates, forms, and process documentation that make it easy to turn theory into winning proposals. PropLIBRARY is available as a Single User Subscription and a Corporate Subscription.
We have also started working with companies to help them assess the quality of their proposals and implement the things we recommend in our articles. You can click here to contact us or drop in to one of our monthly Get To Know Us online meetings.