46 questions to determine your proposal process needs and 6 goals they should accomplish

Answer these questions about your proposal process and you'll know what needs to be done

Implementing a proposal process can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Not only is it the xtreme sports version of herding cats, but there are a huge number of details to work out and then everyone needs to be trained. And maybe some will follow it. Doing all that at once and trying to get it all right on the next proposal introduces a huge amount of risk that can be avoided.

I prefer to phase in a new process, especially at companies with no previous process implementation experience. It also helps to implement a goal-driven process instead of one based on steps. Within the goals that drive your process you can identify the questions that need to be answered to achieve the goals. These questions in turn drive your process.

An example of 6 goals with a total of 46 questions that you can use to assess your proposal process needs is below:

Goal 1: Discover what it will take to win 

See also:
Process Implementation
  1. How will leads be qualified?
  2. How will you itemize what it will take to win?
  3. How will you track and report progress towards being ready to win at RFP release?
  4. What gates or milestones do you need to prepare for?
  5. What do you anticipate needing to know about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment in order to prepare the winning proposal?
  6. How will you accumulate an information advantage for use in the proposal? 
  7. What format should information be kept in for use in the proposal?
  8. How will the pursuit budget be managed?
  9. Who will be involved and in what capacities?
  10. How will you make bid/no bid decisions?

Goal 2: Design the offering based on what it will take to win 

  1. How will you determine what to offer?
  2. Who will need to be involved?
  3. What form will your pre-RFP offering design take? 
  4. How will your offering design be documented for use in the proposal?
  5. What will differentiate your offering?
  6. How should your offering be positioned?
  7. How will you assess its competitiveness?
  8. How will you assess the price to win?
  9. How will you validate that you have the right offering?

Goal 3: Prepare a proposal content plan that defines quality and addresses what it will take to win 

  1. Will you use a compliance matrix to create your proposal outline? If not, then what?
  2. How do you define proposal quality?
  3. What are your proposal quality criteria? Are there criteria specific to each bid?
  4. What do you need to be able to articulate before the proposal writers start writing? 
  5. What must be accomplished in between having an outline and being prepared to start writing?
  6. If the writers follow the instructions you are giving them and fulfill the quality criteria, will it produce a proposal that meets everyone’s expectations?
  7. What do you expect the proposal writers to figure out on their own, and what do you need to provide them?
  8. How will you communicate and document not only what to write, but how to present it?
  9. How will the writers know if they have properly completed their assignments, before they turn in their assignments?
 

Goal 4: Write to fulfill the instructions and quality criteria in the Proposal Content Plan 

  1. How will you track and report progress during proposal development, and in particular during proposal writing?
  2. How will you identify and resolve issues encountered during proposal development, and in particular during proposal writing?
  3. How will writers self-assess whether they’ve written a section that reflects what it will take to win?
  4. How will proposal files be managed?
  5. How will stakeholder expectations be coordinated and managed?
  6. How will access control be managed? (Don’t forget your teammates!)

Goal 5: Validate that the draft reflects your quality criteria 

  1. How will you use the instructions given to proposal writers and the quality criteria you have defined during proposal reviews for proposal quality validation?
  2. How many reviews do you need to validate all of your proposal quality criteria?
  3. When should they be scheduled? How will you monitor review readiness and schedule?
  4. How should each of these reviews be conducted? Which will be formal and which will be informal? 
  5. Who will participate in these reviews?
  6. What orientation and training should be provided to reviewers?
  7. What is the production impact, if any, of each review?

Goal 6: Produce a final copy without any defects for an on-time submission

  1. How will you manage and track proposal completion?
  2. How will the submission copy be prepared?
  3. When and how will you inspect the final copy for defects prior to submission?
  4. How will the submission be conducted?
  5. Who will perform the submission?
     

Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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