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What makes advanced proposal management different from regular proposal management?

Proposal management success requires so much more than most people realize...

While proposal management obsesses over process, advanced proposal management focuses on maximizing ROI and realizes that requires more than process alone. 

We love to obsess over the proposal process. We talk about it as if it is how proposals are done. However, once a proposal manager gains a few years’ experience, every one I’ve ever spoken to realizes that success requires a lot more than just steps. A lot of proposal issues relate to working through other people, especially across organizational boundaries. But some of them have to deal with the inadequacy of the process itself in an environment where customer changes to RFP requirements forces the process to manifest differently every time. Most proposal “processes” are really a collection of techniques stitched together differently for each proposal. 

Winning proposals requires more than just steps. It requires a broader view of process and realization that process is not the goal. ROI is the goal. And the most important driver of ROI is your win rate. 

Advanced proposal management requires a framework that addresses everything that impacts proposal win rates. The process we obsess over is really just a small part of that. To maximize ROI, advanced proposal management must address: 

See also:
ROI
  • Organization. Organization is not limited to an org chart. Organizing the proposal function requires thinking through connections to stakeholders, how decisions are made, resource allocation, strategic planning and positioning, setting quality standards, prioritization, and more.
  • Resourcing. How many staff? Which staff? And how do you sustain that over time? How do you nurture staff to improve resourcing over time?
  • Inputs and the flow of information. How do you discover what will it take to win and turn that into ink on paper? Along with that, how do you flow customer insights and win strategies into the document? And how do you design your offering without writing about it, but then use that to write the proposal?
  • Performance. Performance is not simply execution of the steps. Performance is maximized when you support people so they can be more successful than they would be on their own. This requires addressing assignments, progress tracking, process tailoring and implementation, collaboration, issue resolution, tools, conventions, expectation management, feedback mechanisms, and more. In effect, this becomes the user interface for the proposal experience. If you don’t think about the user experience for your proposal, you are likely not maximizing the performance of those you are depending on to win.
  • Quality validation. You need more than subjectively reading a draft to achieve proposal quality. No quality methodology I have ever seen defines quality as the opinion of a few people, no matter how experienced they are. You need to define proposal quality and the criteria you will use to validate it if you are going to maximize your win rate.

The more things you ignore in the lists above, the less advanced your company's proposal management, and the further from maximizing your potential win rate you will be. To achieve advanced proposal management, you need to see past document production and defining success as another on-time submission, to develop an organizational solution to maximizing the ROI of the proposal function. Advanced proposal management is about integrating all the elements that impact your win rate and not just following the steps.

This is beyond the charter and job description of most proposal managers. In many organizations, they are not allowed to do what this will take. Even if you are high enough on the org chart to consider it, you’ll need to work with other executive stakeholders. It is an organizational problem and not an individual or even department-level problem. 

Organizations that approach proposal management in an advanced way like this have the potential to greatly improve their revenue and profitability. Simply going from a 20% to a 30% win rate increases the company’s revenue by 50%. This makes the extra effort of herding the cats to an integrated approach so worth it. It makes the direct involvement of the CEO and the entire executive team worth it.
 

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Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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