Getting the most out of your lessons learned
For a lesson to be truly “learned,” it must result in change. It is not enough to discuss and collect lessons learned. You must do something with what you find out.
- Issues should turn into action items that will lead to improvements on future proposals.
- Focus on how lessons learned apply to specific roles in the proposal process, not to individuals.
The following questions can help elicit constructive feedback.
Before the proposal
Improving your proposals means improving what you do before the proposal starts. At the end of each proposal, it's a good idea to look back to see what could have been done before the proposal started to increase your chances of winning.
- How were you positioned at the start of the proposal?
- Did you start the pursuit at the right time?
- What could you have done to better qualify the lead?
- Did you start the proposal already having an information advantage?
- What could you have done to increase your information advantage?
- Did you start the proposal having clear differentiators?
- Did you start the proposal knowing what you intended to offer? How did you validate your offering design?
- Were you able to answer all of the questions that the proposal writers had about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment?
- Did you start the proposal knowing what it would take to win and how to articulate your bid strategies?
Improving the effectiveness of the proposal process
In some instances issues arise because the process was not faithfully executed. Had the process been properly followed, the issue would not have come to be, or would have been mitigated. If this is the case, you can ask participants:
- Did you have the inputs you needed to complete each step?
- Should you change what information you collect, when you collect it, how you collect it, or how you distribute it?
- Were expectations clear?
- Would better guidance or notifications help with executing the process?
- Would better orientation/discussion and/or training help proposal contributors? If so, when should it occur?
- Did offering design and proposal writing get tangled up?
- Did you define and use the right quality criteria during your reviews?
- Should you change what, when, or how you validate the key aspects of the proposal?
Improving resource allocation
- Did you have enough resources at each stage (pre-RFP, proposal, reviews, production, etc.)?
- Did you have the right resources?
Evaluating process documentation issues
Consider if the lesson learned feedback impacts your process documentation:
- Does the process address the issue? How should your process documentation be changed or expanded?
- Does the change have an impact on roles and responsibilities?
- What can occur earlier in the process to mitigate the issue?
- During future proposals, if the issue recurs, how will you know and what will you do about it?
Evaluating proposal software issues
Many companies now take advantage of software tools to facilitate workflow automation, proposal collaboration, reviews, and document management. If your company takes advantage of software tools, consider the following line of questioning:
- Were participants able to use the system as designed and to its full potential, or did they find the need to work around it?
- Did participants have sufficient technical support available when and how they needed it?