Successful proposal process implementation

How do you get people to effectively follow the process?

Having a proposal process is easy. Successfully implementing a proposal process is hard. And everyone else is to blame. Okay, maybe you are part of the problem too.

I call it the Other People Problem. To create a proposal bigger than yourself, you have to be able to work through other people. And other people are problematic in so many different ways.

More tips for proposal process implementation:

For something to be a proposal process, it must be something that other people can implement. If a specific person is required for it to function, it is not a process. It's simply that person's way of doing things.

A process that other people can implement requires more than just steps. It requires a flow of information. People must not only have steps for creating a winning proposal, but they also have to have information as inputs, know what the step involves, and have a way of knowing if they completed it correctly. It will also help if they know what options they have for various contingencies, in case things don't go as planned or in case circumstances change. And it will also help if people have a way to acquire any skills they might need to implement the process.

Nearly every contractor I have encountered says they have a proposal process. And nearly all of them are wrong. This includes billion-dollar companies with tons of documentation about proposals. They have tons of documentation. They have expectations. But they do not have a process.

One big reason that most companies do not have the process they claim they do is because they give up during implementation. Working through other people, enabling them to do a complex task without being dependent on any particular person, is extraordinarily difficult. It's much easier to simply direct them. 

To successfully implement your proposal process, you need to:

  • Inform people of the goals they need to accomplish
  • Deliver the right information to the right people at the right time
  • Anticipate what information will be required and how it will need to be managed
  • Itemize the information to be handled and what to do with it
  • Enable people to discover how to do what is required
  • Interface with things that are needed but are outside the scope of the process
  • Collaborate with people who are outside your control
  • Enable people to know when they've completed a task successfully
  • Obtain adequate resources
  • Reach appropriate decisions
  • Operate according to schedule
  • Manage the expectations of all stakeholders
  • Adapt to customer-driven and other changes

None of this will be possible without the enthusiastic participation of Other People.

How you gain the enthusiastic participation of Other People depends on your corporate culture.

However, the most important issue is likely to be whether the participants find it easier to follow the process or to perform their tasks in their own way. If following the process will take more effort than skipping it, you're going to encounter resistance. Forcing people to follow your proposal process is counter-productive.

The MustWin Process is designed around the flow of information required to create a proposal based on what it will take to win. The MustWin Process is fully documented for PropLIBRARY Subscribers and can be immediately put to work. It is goal driven. And because it helps people realize and achieve their goals, it's easier than trying to create a proposal without it.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard proposal specialists go to management wanting to force people to follow their process. This will never work. There's a reason why people aren't following the process, and it's not because they're not interested.


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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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