You can accelerate your proposal quality validation efforts by identifying the quality criteria you want to apply to all proposals ahead of time. You can even turn them into checklists. If you provide an opportunity to create additional quality criteria that are specific to the pursuit, you can accelerate without watering down your criteria.
This requires thinking through your standard quality criteria before you start your proposal. If you start a proposal without already having prepared your checklists, you should follow the custom proposal quality validation approach and use it to jump start your checklist development before you start your next proposal.
You not only need to have your checklists prepared, you need them to be vetted and probably approved by key stakeholders. Proposal quality criteria that are ignored are useless. The exercise of defining the quality criteria that your entire organization endorses for its proposals is a very healthy exercise for your organization.
To implement checklist-driven Proposal Quality Validation:
- First identify the quality criteria that you want to apply to all of your proposals. These will form your baseline quality criteria. Here is some help for how to articulate your quality criteria.
- Next identify quality criteria relevant to the proposal sections you anticipate having in your proposals. For example: technical approach and management approach. Take it down to the level of granularity that fits your organization. Within management, do you need standard quality criteria for organization, staffing, project management, or others? Treat these as modular add-ons for your baseline criteria.
- Next identify quality criteria that are relevant to each line of business, offering, or technical domain that are relevant to what your organization offers. Treat these as more add-ons for your baseline criteria.
- If you have known or repeat customers, consider whether you can pre-identify criteria based on customer insight and awareness. Treat these as more add-ons for your baseline criteria.
- Create generic quality criteria that are relevant to every RFP you receive. For example, "Did you follow the instructions?" and "Is the wording optimized according to the evaluation criteria?" These are also add-ons for your baseline criteria.
- Finally, create a form for identifying quality criteria that are specific to this pursuit. While you might be able to identify some of the subjects that should be considered, the criteria themselves will be unique. This is the final add-on for your baseline criteria. While the more effort you put in this category, the better, it is the icing on the cake. For high-volume proposals, you might not put a lot of effort here and rely solely on your standard quality criteria.
When you combine the baseline with the add-ons, you get a set of quality criteria you can quickly assemble. Format each set as a checklist. For a new proposal, you start with the page(s) for the standard quality criteria and add the page(s) for the relevant sections, offering/domain, customer, and standard RFP. Then create a checklist for the pursuit specific criteria and you have all the quality criteria you need to validate the quality of your proposal.