Bid and proposal department “Boss for a Day”

What would you do if you were hired tomorrow to create a bid and proposal department from scratch?

Here’s the scenario. The company sells custom services and plans to dedicate 3% of its gross annual earnings of $100M annually, or $900K, to bids and proposals. If this was a company involved in product sales or less-intense custom proposal efforts, it might reduce the percentage it dedicates to bids and proposals to 1%.

In this scenario, the company provides the bid and proposal department with a common platform for operations, including MS Office, MS Teams, MS Project, Adobe Acrobat, Zoom, and system security. The company has no written policies, processes, or tools governing bids and proposals. The company plans to produce approximately 15 custom proposals annually. Those 15 custom proposals average 25-30 pages per bid. The company expects 35% of bids to occur in the 4th quarter.

What would you do to build the bid and proposal department from the ground up within the next 60 days? Here’s a quick overview of our response.

Establish bid and proposal plans and processes

  • Put together end-to-end bid life cycle processes, including capture and proposal management, writing, and review using industry best practices flexible to any size bid or proposal.
  • Codify staff, subcontractor, and consultant management processes, including system access, information security, remote work, and work schedules.
  • Develop staff recruitment and retention policies, job descriptions, recruitment processes, hiring processes, candidate screening policies, diversity and inclusion policies, and retention policies that include employee engagement and performance incentives.
  • Create information and system security policies specific to bids and proposals.
  • Develop communications, risk mitigation, continuous improvement, and lessons-learned processes.
  • Schedule quarterly planning exercises.

Create a pipeline and bid schedule

  • Identify existing work required to support contract recompetes.
  • Identify new work to support growth objectives.
  • Identify organic growth objectives and opportunities.
  • Create a bid schedule that is resource loaded.

Create a budget and spending plan for operations of $900K

  • Budget and plan for labor (80% or $720K)
    • 80% or 576K on full-time staff or part-time who are employees of the company.
    • 20% or 144K consultants and SMEs (especially important in the 4th quarter).
  • Budget and plan for other costs (20% or $180K)
    • 10% or $90K for a cushion to mitigate risks and unforeseen events.
    • 7% or $63K for specialized bid and proposal industry tools such as specialized databases, customer relationship management (CRM), bid lifecycle, and writing tools.
    • 3% or $27K for staff development, which includes funds to train operations staff in winning recompetes and new business, growing their business organically, and supporting oral presentations.

Hire full-time staff and identify corporate resources

  • Hire two senior capture managers, one proposal manager, and one part-time writer/editor.
  • Identify other company staff who can help with capture, proposals, graphics, and reviews on a part-time basis (leave enough money to provide them with a charge number for their support).
  • Create a master services agreement with a proposal consulting company to supply specialized and ad hoc support, including capture, proposal writing, editing, and graphics support.

Purchase specialized bid and proposal management tools

  • Purchase specialized databases to facilitate capture and proposals.
  • Acquire a content management system (CRM), as needed, if MS Teams isn’t sufficient.
  • Procure specialized writing/editing tools.
  • Obtain graphics tools like MS PowerPoint add-ins, stock video/photo licenses, digital content creation tools, or graphic design tools, and teach full-time staff how to use them.
  • Leverage free tools and databases identified in Lohfeld Consulting’s blog: Top 10 free government websites and databases for supporting your bid.

Note: Most tools listed above are cloud-based, and you pay a monthly or yearly fee for them.

Establish a staff training program

  • Set up a training program for your full-time staff, including a mix of classes, conferences, and certifications.
  • Train employees supporting the proposal team in topics including information collection, winning recompetes and new business, and oral presentations.

By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow

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 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 $170B 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 and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.