Here are a few dozen quantifiable ways to assess whether your proposal management function is accomplishing what it should.
Depending on your circumstances and goals, you might collect and review this data after every proposal. Or you might track it over time on multiple proposals to determine an appropriate baseline.
If you were to implement all of these, you’d have a ton of data to track. The only way to realistically approach some of them is to use software to do the data tracking, and work off of real time reports that translate data into actionable information. Done extremely well, and you could use them to create a data-driven proposal winning monster of a company.
But even if you don’t track the data with useable precision, you can treat these as a principles, goals, or targets. They can help you raise the bar on your proposal management from just doing things that you think are useful and productive, to having a rough order of magnitude way of approaching things in a quantified way.
Some of these tips can be used to track personnel performance. However, first you need to explicitly decide what you want the proposal management role to accomplish and how much of it is distributed among contributors. Some of these are corporate measures, some are team measures, and some are individual measures. But which are which will vary depending on the nature of the collaboration on proposals at your company.
- Progress tracking and time management. Progress can be tracked by the number of content plan line items that have been addressed. For each review or milestone, what percent of the schedule did it occur at? For example, was Red Team at 60% or 80% of the available schedule? The more things pile up at the back end, the more time management needs to be improved. How many changes were made after pens down? Did the offering change more than 50% into the schedule? These are also signs of issues not being surfaced early enough.
- Compliance. Did you make the competitive range 100% of the time? Did any customer debriefs report a non-compliance?
- Surfacing and resolution of issues. You can also track progress toward proposal completion by the number of issues addressed remaining, weighted by severity. Issue aging is also good to track, as well as the percentage of issues aging by days, and the schedule days when issues were reported. This is much easier when you use software to report and track your issues instead of whiteboards. The combination tells you how long it took to surface issues, how long are issues sitting unresolved, and is the team being responsive to issue reports.
- Prevention of problems. Do you see a decline in issue reports over time? Do you see issue reports coming in sooner?
- Situational awareness. Do you see a decline in questions asked because they already have the answers and it was more convenient to access the information than to ask the question? This is especially true for questions like who is addressing what, when something is due, is something complete, are there any issues, and what should be addressed in a section. These are questions that shouldn’t need to be asked. However, you can provide reports, but if they aren’t easy to access, people will ask because it’s easier.
- Expectation management. Are they documented? Are they updated? Are they being treated like issues and getting resolved? Or are they expectations that can’t be resolved? Expectation can be treated like issue management and tracked. This can tell you whether you are surfacing them ahead of time or encountering conflicts because they were discovered too late.
- Quality control and quality assurance. Are quality criteria for each proposal defined? Are proposal writers able to use the quality criteria for self-assessment? Do reviewers use the same quality criteria? Could any of the issues reported have been avoided with the right quality criteria? Were all the quality criteria validated prior to implementation? Did any quality criteria require changing after being published? Was the document validated against the quality criteria? Was any self-assessment validation overturned by later reviews? Can you create a timeline (much easier using software) for when validation was performed at the criteria level?
- Collaboration and configuration management. Is access to information set appropriately and securely? Are people able to share information without conflicts? Are people able to access the information they need without asking for it? Can invalid changes be reversed? Can the proposal continue in the event of technology failure?