Proposal production across the business development life cycle – phase 3 (Part 4 of 6)

In her previous post (Part 3 of 6), Briana Coleman, PPM.APMP discussed the key activities involved in Phases 1 and 2 of the typical business development (BD) life cycle:

  • Phase 1 Opportunity identification and assessment
  • Phase 2 Pursuit
  • Phase 3 Pre-proposal preparation
  • Phase 4 Proposal development
  • Phase 5 Post-submittal

In this post, she discusses the key production activities that you should perform in Phase 3 Pre-Proposal Preparation.

1. Begin drafting your production plan: proposal-specific

In Phases 1 and 2 of the BD life cycle, you drafted a company production plan. In this phase, you’ll tailor that generic plan to your specific proposal and RFP.

By this phase in the life cycle, you have likely received a draft RFP from the client, or you have put together a strawman RFP of your anticipated requirements. Using these draft documents, update your plan to reflect any nuances of the customer, e.g., specified font sizes, paper requirements (e.g., 100% recycled), delivery issues (e.g., must use FedEx), graphic restrictions, etc.

2. Revise templates to meet (anticipated) RFP requirements

In accordance with your proposal-specific production plan, update your company templates to match the anticipated RFP requirements. Ensure that your fonts, font sizes, margins, header/footers, and other formatting are in compliance with the draft/strawman RFP.

3. Begin conceptualizing graphics

Develop and solidify your proposal-specific color palette, considering the client and their preferences in your color choices.

Separate from your production plan, your proposal manager has probably begun working with the writers by this point. The writers are beginning to develop storyboards or annotated outlines and documenting the solution. Engage your graphic artists early, and have them begin working with your writers to conceptualize draft graphics. Note that I am not saying render. Graphics rarely hit the mark on the first try, and they are expensive to render. Instead, have your graphic artists spend their time asking the authors questions, presenting ideas, and sketching rough graphics that will be rendered after Pink Team.

4. Revise style guides to meet client-specific naming conventions/acronyms

Update your company’s standard style guide to create a proposal-specific guide for use by writers, editors, and the proposal manager once the RFP drops. Include client- or industry-specific acronyms, how you will refer to the client (e.g., U.S. Department of Defense vs. DoD), words or phrases to avoid, and the like.

By developing your proposal-specific production plan and updating templates ahead of time, you will ensure that you are ready to hit the ground running when the RFP arrives!

What key production activities do you perform in Phase 3: Pre-Proposal Preparation? Send your thoughts to me at, and I’ll share your advice in upcoming posts!