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58 proposal reference library topic recommendations

Information that is handy to have available at the moment of need

To help you implement our recommendations in 6 things you need in your proposal reference library, here are some subtopics to address in each area. 

If you are avoiding narrative, you can keep this information in a spreadsheet, with a tab for each category. For graphics, quick notes, etc., PowerPoint can also be a convenient format since it’s easy to move through. I’ve also seen Evernote, Google Keep, and Microsoft OneNote used to store this information. 

Keep in mind that some information will be pursuit specific and some will apply to all of your pursuits. Pursuit specific may not be worth saving in a central repository, but when you apply your reference material to a new pursuit you should specifically provide a place for people to contribute pursuit specific variations for use in the new proposal. Also, for business lines or markets, you can create categories or columns. 

Topics to consider for your proposal reference library:

Proof points

See also:
  • Performance/accomplishments
  • Specifications/comparisons
  • Features/benefits
  • Quantities/capacities
  • Capabilities
  • Qualifications
  • Durations
  • Results
  • Turnover
  • Cost reductions/efficiencies
  • Sections/topics: Technical, management, quality, risk, staffing, transition
  • KPIs, metrics, and performance measurements
  • Sample reports, documentation samples

A single version of the truth

  • Dates
  • Durations
  • Numbers
  • Locations
  • Names/labels 
  • Events/history
  • Certifications
  • Tests/audits


  • Procedures/processes/approaches/methodologies
  • Sections/topics: Technical, management, quality, risk, staffing, transition
  • Options
  • Results
  • Reasons


  • Concepts of operations (CONOPs)
  • Standard approaches leading to results
  • Standard comparisons/metaphors/messages
  • Standard positioning
  • Pictures as proof


  • Frequent evaluation criteria
  • Approaches
  • Competitive positioning
  • Capability/qualifications
  • Ghosts
  • Strengths
  • Sections/topics: Technical, management, quality, risk, staffing, transition

Approaches mapped to different circumstances

  • Customer circumstances
  • Evaluation criteria
  • Incumbent/not incumbent
  • Local/not local
  • Single site/geographically dispersed
  • Technology/platform
  • Subject matter
  • Commodity/bespoke
  • Business line
  • Competitive circumstances
  • Risk
  • Environment
  • Capacity/scale
  • Jurisdiction
  • Customer concerns
  • Timing/schedule
  • Accuracy/precision
  • Predictability/consistency
  • Specified/Indefinite quantities, deadlines, etc.
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