A Way to Help Project Managers and SMEs Write Better Proposals
Project managers and SMEs are the backbone of many organizations. They have a combination of technical knowledge and communication skills that effectively feeds needed information to customers, bosses, and subordinates. You would think that such people would be great proposal writers, but many of them struggle to contribute responsive and compelling proposal content. Even those who are champion report writers or study leaders can have problems developing great proposal content. Why is this?
Let’s look at the job of a project manager. She is charged with delivering some sort of product or service. Regularly, she must explain the objectives and approaches being taken to deliver that product/service. She is providing information about progress and obstacles, and making recommendations to upper management, customers, even subordinates about courses of action to address the issues and challenges of the moment. Most of her communication is about informing people about aspects the project—about the progress of work that has already been agreed upon. Occasionally, she must advocate for something (change orders, issues that arise, etc.) and if she wants to get what she is advocating, she must be persuasive.
Proposal work, on the other hand is first and foremost a persuasive activity. The prospective customer has not agreed that you should do the work. They are looking for the best company to do the work. They have challenges they face and want a combination of a low price, low risk, and high confidence the contract will be successful. Likely, they are going to have to read a number of proposals that are all going to inform them what and how bidders are going to do the work. What they also want to know is why are you going to do it the way you propose?
Compelling proposals not only explain what and how an offeror will do the work, they explain why. Project managers often know why they are doing something. Reasons can include:
- The approach is the state of the practice, which is the best way to do the work quickly while achieving consistent quality results.
- Some aspect might be necessary to comply with a requirement or regulation, such as complying with an agency’s technical architecture.
- Some approaches are picked because they save labor, which also can save cost.
- Some approaches provide additional benefits for no additional cost.
- Some approaches are because your shop is a (fill in the blank technology) platinum partner. That might be your real reason, but you became a platinum partner for a reason-explain that.
When dealing with project managers and SMEs who do not regularly write proposals, make sure to spend time with them explaining the larger picture: that a proposal both explains and advocates. Explaining why the approach should matter to the reviewer is a key function of a proposal. When your team understands its mission and audience, your strong project managers and SMEs can be a great asset in developing informative, persuasive content.
Dwayne Baptist, Managing Director at Lohfeld Consulting Group
Dwayne brings 30 years’ experience in the information technology and service delivery sector, with 25 years’ experience in capture and proposal development. An expert Proposal Manager, Orals Coach and Color Reviewer, he is a preeminent proposal strategist and solution architect. He has worked across off of DoD, many parts of DHS, and numerous civilian Federal Agencies. He has also led proposal efforts at the state and local level.
Prior to joining Lohfeld Consulting Group, Dwayne has served in senior leadership roles in a variety of large and small companies. He has led efforts to win major IDIQ vehicles with ceilings as high as $10 billion, including assembling winning teams to enter new markets that subsequently won significant task order revenue. As president of Dwayne Baptist and Associates, he combined capture and proposal development consulting with executive coaching to help leaders and organizations develop the business processes needed to quickly and reliably capture, bid, and win new work, and to protect incumbent work.
Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals.
As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Go-to-Market Strategy, Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $135B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
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by Bob Lohfeld
contributors Edited by Beth Wingate
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