Daily Proposal Standup Meeting Management Tips
The term “standup meeting” was coined to describe a proposal meeting so brief that attendees could stand without discomfort. Standup meetings should be long enough to efficiently communicate status and mitigate risks and short enough that attendees can resume time-sensitive proposal tasks quickly. Daily standup meetings are similar to Agile Scrum meetings, as both track progress and address obstacles to progress in brief gatherings. Managing standup meetings and Agile tasks along a critical path can be challenging. For example, customers can change and amend their requirements, the solution can flounder, and the team can encounter resource constraints.
Successful daily team meetings start with a great kickoff meeting
Successful standup meetings start with a great kickoff meeting, as described in the “Ultimate Kickoff Meeting” article in the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) Winning the Business journal. By the end of a great kickoff meeting, everyone participating in the proposal should understand how the thoroughness of the capture impacts proposal preparation. In addition, they should understand the proposal’s strategy, solution, and schedule; their roles and responsibilities; and how to escalate risk and acquire the materials needed to do their work.
Set standup meeting controls at the first meeting
By implementing controls at the first standup meeting, the proposal manager can help keep the proposal on its critical path. The proposal manager should expect all attendees to:
- Be considerate of each other’s time.
- Come on time and be ready to present their status.
- Briefly describe their status, risks to accomplishing their assigned tasks, and concerns.
- Understand that more-complex risks are placed in the parking lot and addressed separately.
- Send their status to the proposal manager if they are unable to attend.
- Alert the proposal manager of sickness and planned days off.
The proposal manager should only invite participants who need to attend the meeting to avoid absences, wasted time, and inflated bid and proposal costs. Participants who play limited or time-sensitive roles, like editors or reviewers, can join the standup meeting at an appropriate time.
Conducting the standup meeting
Start each meeting at the same time every day. First, review news affecting proposal operations, upcoming schedule activities, and how overarching risks are being mitigated. Next, each attendee should briefly describe their status in accomplishing scheduled proposal tasks, risks affecting their progress, and questions about their work. As each attendee reports, the proposal manager should take notes and post follow-up actions. Finally, every standup meeting attendee should have visibility into the status of risk mitigation through a report or dashboard.
Virtual versus in-person meeting issues
Standup meetings can be virtual, in-person, or a hybrid of the two. No matter which platforms the team chooses, verify that attendees know how to use the virtual platform and follow the same meeting protocol for providing information. Ask attendees to turn on their cameras to improve visual communication cues.
The proposal or capture manager may be unable to resolve risks during the standup meeting, so move those risks to a parking lot for further discussion in a separate forum. For example, if a proposal resource has to take emergency leave, identifying their replacement can be handled in a separate meeting. Here are a few common challenges typically encountered during standup meetings and suggested mitigations:
- Immature capture: Be clear about the completeness of the capture during the first standup meeting, the company’s plan to overcome gaps, and how to communicate status and risks.
- Unstable staff resources: During the course of the proposal, staff may come and go on a temporary or permanent basis. The proposal manager should schedule separate meetings to onboard staff and transition knowledge.
- No-shows: Some attendees frequently miss meetings, and the proposal manager should enlist the help of the attendee’s supervisor or a company executive to encourage their participation.
- Disruptors: Some attendees find it challenging to communicate their status and defend their opinions concisely. They end up wasting the team’s time and increase frustration. The proposal manager should take any disruptors aside to explain the standup meeting controls and why they are essential to effective meeting management and staff morale.
- Diversity and inclusion: The proposal manager must create an environment where everyone feels free to speak and understand that their communications are respected.
Supporting high morale
Managing a fast-moving proposal is challenging, and unaddressed risks and concerns can hurt morale. To avoid morale issues, the capture manager and proposal manager need to listen to concerns carefully, work to address them as soon as possible, and verify that concerns are addressed to the attendees’ satisfaction. In addition, standup meetings are a perfect time to encourage high morale with recognition of accomplishments, work or personal milestones, and a little humor and levity.
Consider holding a retrospective meeting after major proposal milestones or during the last standup meeting to determine how to improve standup meeting communications, controls, participation, and outcomes. Use your findings to improve the company’s standup meeting participation, processes, and tools.
Daily standup meetings provide the opportunity to assess progress and resolve obstacles to progress quickly. However, they can also reveal challenges the capture manager and proposal manager can address through proactive risk mitigation. Proposal managers can mitigate risks and optimize the value of their standup meetings by:
- Starting with a thorough kickoff meeting.
- Proactively addressing risk.
- Providing transparent visibility into the status and risk mitigation.
- Promoting high attendee morale.
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 www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
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