If you want to go after contracts that are bigger than yourself, you have to work with other people. And that means you need to organize and manage the effort. It means you have to manage the expectations of all the stakeholders. And it means you need to implement a process that delivers quality assurance. There's a difference between a small proposal and a large proposal.
Proposal management means answering questions like:
- Who issues proposal assignments and who is responsible for fulfilling them?
- Where do you draw the lines? On the organization chart? Between one person's role and another?
- How do you allocate proposal resources and perform scheduling?
- Who defines the goals and sets the direction? And what goals and directions should they set?
- How do you measure proposal progress? How do people know if they are on track?
- Who defines, implements, oversees, and enforces the required processes?
- How do people know what's acceptable? Who defines proposal quality?
- Who's in charge, and why won't they listen to you?
- Who decides what and how?
- How do you do better next time? What should you do to constantly improve your win rate?
A lot of proposal management involves knowing how to solve the problems that typically come up during proposal development. Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion regarding what a Proposal Manager is and should be responsible for. Sometimes they become the stuckee for EVERYTHING including figuring out just what that includes. To help you with this issue, here is a list of 90 things that someone needs to do to win and who is usually responsible.
Congratulations, you're a manager!
Now figure out how to achieve your goals with the meager resources you've been given. If that's not good enough, you'd better be able to explain how many people you really need. And who you need on your team. You might find that an ROI model is a better way to calculate the number of people needed to write winning proposals. A good place to start is by eliminating waste, since a lot of effort that goes into proposals is simply wasted. If you still don't have enough resources, here are some tips to help you get by.
Once you have your resources, that's when the real management part of the job starts. Here is a simple and clever technique you can use to quickly improve your proposal management skills. Managing a proposal effort has some important differences from other kinds of management and it can be counter-intuitive. For example, by not trusting people you can improve teamwork and increase your win rate.Management by metrics
One of the things the MustWin Process does for you is give you ways to measure business development and proposal progress that you've never had before.
Proposal management and winning
Here is a list of things you should discuss before taking a gig as a proposal manager to make sure you know what you are getting into. Winning proposals consistently requires having a process that informs people about what they should do and enables them to work better as a team. And getting everyone on the same page regarding what the process should be can be excruciatingly difficult. But usually it's because you're overlooking the real reason why your process is failing.
When seeking to improve your win rate, where you should start depends on what your role is. But there are some key areas that are worth investing in if you want to win more of what you bid. If you are just getting started on formalizing the way you produce your proposals, then start with the basics. There are a lot of things that will impact your ability to deliver a winning proposal. Make sure you are focusing on the right things and don't go down the wrong path. Instead focus on these six critical areas.
Best practices are all fine and good, but too often in the world of proposals we're called on to solve proposal emergencies. When this is the case, you have to be able to practice proposal triage.
Proposal management and project management have a lot in common. You have to deal with schedules, resources, plans, budgets, workflow, quality assurance, and all of the details that have to be addressed before people can sit down to write a proposal.
"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."
Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980
Lessons learned and continuous improvement
Continuous improvement supports being competitive, achieving your full potential, and helping your company grow. Making sure that you're focusing on the right lessons learned after each proposal is key. Sometimes there's a lot of CYA going on after a proposal loses, and people too easily accept that the proposal lost "on price" because nobody can be blamed for it. Here's what you really need to know about a proposal you lost, and here's how to make sure you don't lose before you even start your proposals.
And if you're working on a proposal right now that's broken, here are 12 strategies for how to fix it.
Bringing your entire organization into alignment to maximize your win rate
A well-oiled team has a better chance of winning than a gifted individual or even a collection of gifted individuals. But a well-developed organization will beat ad hoc teams brought together as needed for proposals. Your staff, leadership, culture, management practices, strategies, collaboration, resource allocation, and more are just as important to your win rate as your proposal process. Our topic center for organizational development provides many resources for building the kind of organization you need to support your efforts to maximize your win rate.
When the RFP is released, the deadline clock starts ticking. You should be prepared to act quickly. This RFP release checklist can help. One of the first things you should do is distribute copies of the RFP so that all stakeholders can begin reading it without delay. Here is an RFP distribution list template.
Holding a proposal Kickoff Meeting can help get the proposal off to the right start. Here is some material to help you get the most out of your Kickoff Meetings:
Typically the customer will provide instructions for submitting questions regarding the RFP. Here is a format you can use to consistently and clearly present your questions.
When the customer needs to make changes to the RFP, they usually release an amendment to the RFP. Amendments can come at any time and may be insignificant, or they may change everything. Here is a checklist for what to do when an RFP amendment is released.
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Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY.
The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.
Carl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.
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