Staffing your pursuit effort
The number of people who get involved in preparing a proposal, even a small proposal, adds up quickly.
- While a large number of people will touch the proposal, fewer people will have significant assignments related to the proposal.
- Proposal efforts are often divided into a “Core Team” of primary staff at the heart of the effort, who are supported by all the others.
Start with one Business Development Manager and one Capture Manager
You need a Business Development Manager to qualify the lead, collect intelligence, and manage the customer relationship. Once the opportunity has been qualified and you know that a proposal is going to be requested, you need a Capture Manager to lead the effort to win the bid. The Business Development Manager could dual-hat as the Capture Manager, but this would mean he or she is not chasing other new leads. This is why a Business Development Manager typically hands off to someone else as the Capture Manager.
The Capture Manager is often staffed with the Project Manager “to be,” often with mixed results, since they often do not have enough experience in business development. A good Capture Manager needs experience in both Business Development and Project Management. They need to understand sales and they need to be able to make accurate estimates regarding the technical solution.
Add a Proposal Manager and a Process Administrator
The Proposal Manager leads the proposal process and the effort to produce the proposal document. However, you want the Proposal Manager’s attention to be on the content of the proposal and not on document production or maintaining process documentation. Therefore, all MustWin efforts should also have a Process Administrator assigned to them to assist the Proposal Manager in maintaining the process documentation.
Add a Production Manager and Production Support Staff
One person needs to be in charge of preparing the finished copies of the proposal, and it should not be the Proposal Manager. The number of Production Support Staff depends on the size of the document to be produced. Expect to need one Production Support staff for every 75 pages of finished proposal. As it is a MustWin effort and you want it to communicate effectively, at least one of these should be a graphics designer/illustrator. And if you want to give editorial accuracy more than just lip service, you will need an editor in addition to the production staff. The Production Manager and Support Staff may have good editorial skills, but they will be too focused on document assembly to be able to read every word. The solution is an editor who can check the document as they produce it.
Add Writers and Subject Matter Experts as Needed
You’ll need people to define the solution/approach, write it down, and respond to each requirement of the RFP. For this, you will need subject matter experts who understand the scope of the work and writers who can capture it on paper. The number that you need depends on breadth and depth of the scope of work and the amount of information required by the RFP. For some proposals, writing the technical and management approaches will require multiple authors and subject matter experts. For small proposals, they may have a single author. It depends on the RFP. A subject matter expert may contribute a small write-up or an entire section, depending on their skills and availability. For some proposals, sections like past performance and resumes will require a dedicated author. Once the RFP is received, it should be analyzed to determine how many subject matter experts will be needed to address the topics required, and then how many authors will be needed to provide sufficient capacity.
Add Reviewers as Needed
The number of reviewers required will be defined in the Validation Plan for the proposal. Similar to writers, it will depend on the depth and breadth of subject matter to be reviewed, as well as the size of the proposal, and the number of items to be validated. Reviewers will typically participate on a part-time basis or full-time during the review activity.
Add Corporate Support
This generally includes a Contract Specialist, Pricing Specialists, and sometimes Human Resources and Facilities support. Having a Contract Specialist available is vital in government procurement. Typically only one is needed. Likewise only one Pricing Specialist is needed, unless the pricing is very complex or the number of line items is very large. These resources are generally only needed on a part-time basis.
Proposals come in many shapes and sizes, so your mileage may vary. You actual staffing need will be driven by the RFP, and may not be known until its release. However, you should not wait until RFP release to identify candidates to fill the various roles.
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