When you get a proposal assignment, consider:
- Are you capable of performing the assigned task? It does no good to accept an assignment if you are unable to complete it. If you are not confident that you can complete the assignment on time and with quality sufficient to help win the proposal, then you need to speak to the Executive Sponsor or Proposal Manager. It is better to let people down while they have time to replace you than it is to accept the assignment and then be unable to complete it on time and per the specifications.
- Do you have the skills, background, and knowledge? Technical staff may not have sufficient writing skills to complete their assignment, even if they have the right technical knowledge. And vice versa. A common solution is to pair a writer up with a Subject Matter Expert. When an assignment is botched, it is often because the person assigned was not up to the task and didn’t realize it until it was too late. One way to mitigate this is with frequent progress checks. People don’t always like to admit their limitations.
- Do you have the availability/capacity? People who are capable tend to be in demand and may not have the time for something else. Even if you may have the best of intentions, it can lead to late and/or incomplete assignments. You should work with the Executive Sponsor to free up the key people and make sure that the MustWin proposal is given the priority it deserves.
- Do you have what you need to complete the assignment? If any resources or information are needed to complete the assignment, you need to identify them and notify the proposal manager early enough in the process so that they can be provided.
Once you accept an assignment, here are some things you can do to ensure success:
- Provide progress updates early and frequently. Don’t wait until an assignment is complete before you let people see it. Get input (especially on approaches) and collaborate early to make sure you are going down the right path.
- Quantify progress. Progress should be quantified three ways: 1) How much time is left, 2) How many items in the Content Plan have you addressed, and 3) if your section has been reviewed/validated. Using a red, yellow, green scale may help.
- Self-review. The Content Plan provides you with the same tools that reviewers will use to validate your sections. Use them to assess whether what you have written fulfills all of the goals and requirements.
When you submit your assignment it may not be “complete.”
- Assignments must be validated. All assignments should be validated per the Validation Plan for the proposal. This will involve checking compliance with RFP requirements and verifying that what was written matches what was specified in the Content Plan.
- Assignments must be complete. An incomplete assignment is usually the result of the author running out of time or not having the information required to respond to all the requirements. Frequent progress checks help mitigate both issues.
- Corrections. Sometimes a section will be given to another author or SME to contribute to, correct, or complete. Sometimes you will get additional guidance and be the one responsible for making the changes.