News & Knowledge Center

Ask Proposal Doctor – Creating balance between “required” and “desired”?

Wendy Frieman

Dear Proposal Doctor,

Senior executives in my organization are constantly inserting material into the proposal that is not called for in the RFP and spending time on proposal components that don’t get separately evaluated.

The executive summary eats up hours of everyone’s time, and even if it is sometimes required, it is almost never evaluated. Likewise, the graphics are time-consuming and expensive to conceptualize, render, revise, and review. Over and over again. Every major section has an introduction that is not required.

We are adding so much to an already difficult workload, and the required sections that do get scored are going to suffer. How can I scale this back before it kills us all?

-Drowning

 

Dear Drowning,

You didn’t indicate what kind of RFPs you are responding to, but I can make an educated guess that they are Federal…

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Ask the Proposal Doctor – Dying of Boredom

Wendy Frieman

Dear Proposal Doctor,

My team is dying of boredom, and I am afraid they will all quit. We haven’t seen an RFP in over 3 months, and this is a hard-working proposal team that thrives on adrenaline.

How can I keep everyone motivated? These dry spells are very hard to manage.

-Dying

 

Dear Dying,

The proposal business is spikey and probably always will be. Periods of frantic activity followed by weeks of nothingness - this appears to be the new normal. Government procurements are now regularly delayed, and commercial acquisitions have their own form of quirkiness and unpredictability.

The time in between proposals is incredibly valuable. This is the time to rest up, and then to sharpen the knives and get prepared for the next big surge. Here are some areas where all proposal teams can improve:

  1. Does your team really understand…

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Ask the Proposal Doctor – Sick of Debating

Wendy Frieman

Dear Proposal Doctor,

Our team is in a pitched battle over the proposal outline, and until we resolve it, this proposal is going nowhere. The government’s Section M evaluation criteria (different from what is in Section L) are stated in paragraph form with no numbering or lists or bullets.

The paragraphs read like a stream-of-consciousness novel with little form or organization. They are repetitive. Yet some on our team want to take each phrase and make that phrase a heading in the proposal. If we had unlimited page count, this might make sense, but we don’t. Should we organize according to Section L instructions and try to weave in the key words from Section M whenever possible?

The endless debate and churn is cutting into the valuable time available to write and develop compelling graphics. How can we…

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Ask the Proposal Doctor – Frustrated at Stupidity

Wendy Frieman

Dear Proposal Doctor,

The powers that be in my company took drastic measures after a number of proposals were submitted containing errors resulting from use of old proposal material. As of now, no one has access to old proposals so that everyone will have to write everything from scratch. Of course there are still some electronic and hard copies floating around, so the hunt is on to see who has the biggest stash.

Is there an official best practice with respect to using previous proposals? If we don’t get this policy reversed, it seems to me that we are going to be re-inventing the wheel at considerable cost to the company. And ultimately to our customers.

-Frustrated at Stupidity

 

Dear Frustrated,

Good artists copy. Great artists steal. Who said that? I don’t know but, I think it was Picasso,…

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