Creating a checklist for the information you need at the start of a proposal

Everything you need to know for winning an RFP can be turned into a checklist

When we realized just how much of the MustWin Process already consisted of checklists we decided to create something new that would consist only of checklists, without all the extra process language. Instead of thinking of it as a process checklist, it's more like the checklists are the process. We’re transforming what we have into a Checklist-Driven Proposal. We're creating something you can just pick up and use to win an RFP response. Here’s how it’s going to work…

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  1. Our Readiness Review methodology tht brings structure to the pre-RFP phase and ensures that companies arrive at RFP release ready to win. We're converting it into a monster checklist that shows what needs to be accomplished before the RFP is released and can be used as a bid/no bid gateway into the proposal or as an information collection tool at the start of a proposal.
  2. We’re transforming our Proposal Quality Validation methodology into a set of checklists that proposal writers can use to self-check and proposal reviews can use to do a much better job of ensuring that the proposal reflects what it will take to win. Think of it as a proposal review checklist.
  3. We recently published an ebook describing our recommendations for planning the content of your proposals. It is essentially a methodology for creating a checklist that the proposal writers can follow to create a winning proposal.
  4. We're going to transform the Proposal Recipe Library on PropLIBRARY into a checklist for the proposal content itself. What we need is already there, it’s just in a different format. It will provide checklist simple inspiration for what to write about and what your win strategies and themes should be.
  5. We’re also going to convert our proposal logistics, management, and final production checklists into a master proposal coordination checklist.

Put them all together and you get a true checklist-driven proposal. From the pre-RFP pursuit, to proposal startup, through writing, to the quality validation reviews, and all the way to submission.

Pretty ambitious, huh? It helps that all those lists have already been created and are in PropLIBRARY. We’re just consolidating them, repurposing them, and separating them from the process.

By the way, everyone who is a PropLIBRARY Subscriber when we release each of the new lists will get them all free of charge. We’re going to create a new Checklist Library, add it to the menu, and make it just another benefit of subscribing.

We’re starting with the Proposal Startup Information Checklist that extracts all of the questions, goals, and action items from our Readiness Review methodology. So far we have over 120 items spanning 20 pages. And it’s just one of the checklists. We’re pretty excited about how comprehensive and useful these will be. The final item and page count will probably come down a bit in the final release since we’d rather consolidate and tighten it up as we go instead of padding it out for larger numbers. But the release is just a couple of weeks away…

For those of you who are inclined to build your own, here are the categories we’re using for the first checklist, to ensure that it captures all of the information you need to start your proposal:

  • What you need to know about the opportunity
    What matters about the size, scope, and complexity?
  • What you need to know about your own offering
    What do you plan to propose and why is it the best alternative?
  • What you need to know about the customer’s procurement process
    How will they prepare the RFP, perform their evaluation, and make an award?
  • What you need to know about the customer
    What matters about them as an organization and as individual people?
  • What you need to know about the competitive and teaming environments
    What matters about the competition and should you team, who with, and why?
  • What you need to know that’s specific to your line of business
    What do you need to decide what to offer, make estimates, and prepare pricing?
  • What you need to know about your own organization and resources
    What procedures do you have to follow and what resources are available?
  • What you need to know about proposal preparation
    The better you anticipate what will be needed to prepare a winning proposal, the more likely you will be able to get it.
  • What you need to know about the RFP
    What should you focus on and how will it impact your proposal?
  • Other things you need to know
    In addition to all of the above, there are still more things you should know…

You can create your own Proposal Startup Information Checklist by writing down everything you need to know in each of these categories.

If you know everything you should, you’re ready to bid and win. You’ll have something to give those involved in the pre-RFP pursuit that will make it more likely for them to bring you the information you need. Then you’ll have the information you need to determine the right bid strategies. When proposal writers try to make the proposal reflect the customer’s perspective, they’ll have what they need to know about the customer to do it. People will be able to work much quicker when they don’t hit a wall because they can’t answer a question. And you won’t need to call meetings to talk around an issue because you don’t know the answer.


Access to premium content items is limited to PropLIBRARY Subscribers

A subscription to PropLIBRARY unlocks hundreds of premium content items including recipes, forms, checklists, and more to make it easy to turn our recommendations into winning proposals. Subscribers can also use MustWin Now, our online proposal content planning tool.


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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