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How to write about quality in a proposal

A proposal that emphasizes what matters to the customer will always win over a proposal for the exact same thing that does not.

Quality is an abstract concept and what matters to customers about it can vary greatly. In a proposal, quality is really about trust. The customer has to trust that you will deliver as promised. And like trust, claiming to be of top quality or being committed to it is not enough. Customers look at quality in different ways:

  • Sometimes it’s just a check box.  Do you have a Quality Control Plan?  Are you ISO 9001:2000 certified? Are you CMM Level 5? When this is the case, the customer may have learned that what companies say about quality often does not matter and instead look for third-party validation through a certification process.
  • Sometimes they want to know what you are going to do about it. What procedures do you follow? What kind of inspections do you conduct? Who is responsible for quality? Customers with this focus are really concerned about credibility of results.
  • Sometimes they want you to quantify it. How will you measure quality? What performance specifications will you meet? In this case they are attempting to move past abstract notions of quality and get to something concrete.
  • Sometimes they want you to tell them what your approach to it is. They leave it up to you to define it and explain what you do about it. You may have no idea what they think is important, and they probably will not be able to compare apples to apples. This is by far the most difficult circumstance to deal with. You may have to guess at what matters about quality to the customer.

What you write about quality in a proposal for each of these is very different. Being certified itself does not tell a customer what you actually do to achieve quality. But following the same procedures does not make you certified, either.

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