At each Kickoff Meeting, I provide the final proposal schedule to the proposal team; however, much effort goes into getting to the final schedule.
Here are some tips to help your proposal schedule development efforts.
- Maintain templates of standard, achievable, detailed proposal schedules for 5-, 10-, 15-, and 30-day turnarounds – or whatever the typical turnaround times are for your industry and clients. Once you have the templates developed, you can tweak them for particular efforts and know that you’ve already accounted for all the required drafts, reviews, editing, production, etc.
- Develop your final proposal schedule backward from the submission date, and develop your schedule forward from RFP receipt, including time to finalize your outline, schedule, templates, kickoff meeting materials, storyboards or annotated outlines, etc.
- Minimize sequential tasks – maximize parallel tasks. Don’t make every action dependent on the preceding action.
- Realistically estimate the time required for specific tasks – and add a little padding (10%) that you can then cut to look like a team player (my secret is now out!).
- Assign personnel to each task with start and end dates.
- Divide major tasks into smaller, discrete tasks – make the effort manageable and more easily tracked.
- Avoid scheduling weekends and holidays – this sets a negative tone for contributors from the start (try to schedule the writing assignments to allow weekend writing time for those who want or need the extra time to write each major draft, but don’t show it as mandatory).
- Schedule time for all planned reviews – allow time to implement valid recommendations. It’s very demotivating to participate in a Red Team Review, only to find out that there’s not enough time for your great comments and suggestions to be incorporated into the proposal. Why bother to help on the next review?!
- Know and plan your proposal production time. Think about page counts, number of graphics included, electronic versus hardcopy submission, number of copies needed, delivery time needed (1 day to drive, need to stay in hotel to deliver next morning first thing), file upload times, etc.
- Maintain continuous focus on meeting every schedule date – there’s a reason for the schedule and that’s to help the proposal team deliver an A paper to the client on time!
- There are many ways to develop and show a schedule, including MS Word, MS Excel, MS Project, MS Outlook calendar assignments and reminders, calendars in SharePoint and Privia or another collaborative system, or a combination of these technologies. Use whatever method that works best for your organization and team
- Schedule task order proposals like any other project or proposal – I’ve worked on plenty of task order proposals that required as much if not more effort than non-task order proposals!
Finally, I always develop my proposal schedule so that I deliver the proposal a day early (or ½ day early for very short turnaround efforts). There are too many potential man-made problems and natural disasters to jeopardize weeks’, months’, and even years’ worth of work and people’s livelihoods.
What proposal schedule development hints and tips would you add to this list? Send them to me at BWingate@LohfeldConsulting.com.