Dear Proposal Doctor, I have just assumed a position as director of a team of junior proposal managers. They are bright and they have great work habits, but they have only minimal training and not much experience. What is the best way to get them up to speed? By the end of the year, they will each need to be able to independently manage several concurrent task order proposals ranging from 25-50 pages (for the technical and management sections). Thanks very much, -The New Director Dear New Director, Congratulations on your new position. Training for proposal managers is a tricky business because so much of what these young people need to know is specific to your company and your industry. Moreover, there are many different ways of approaching this challenge. I like to think about three broad categories in which proposal managers need to develop, and you have to be … Continue reading Best way to get new proposal managers up to speed – Ask Proposal Doctor
Dear Proposal Doctor, Senior executives in my organization are constantly inserting material into the proposal that is not called for in the RFP and spending time on proposal components that don’t get separately evaluated. The executive summary eats up hours of everyone’s time, and even if it is sometimes required, it is almost never evaluated. Likewise, the graphics are time-consuming and expensive to conceptualize, render, revise, and review. Over and over again. Every major section has an introduction that is not required. We are adding so much to an already difficult workload, and the required sections that do get scored are going to suffer. How can I scale this back before it kills us all? -Drowning Dear Drowning, You didn’t indicate what kind of RFPs you are responding to, but I can make an educated guess that they are Federal Government RFPs. The reason that people want to add sections … Continue reading Ask Proposal Doctor – Creating balance between "required" and "desired"?
Dear Proposal Doctor, My team is dying of boredom, and I am afraid they will all quit. We haven’t seen an RFP in over 3 months, and this is a hard-working proposal team that thrives on adrenaline. How can I keep everyone motivated? These dry spells are very hard to manage. -Dying Dear Dying, The proposal business is spikey and probably always will be. Periods of frantic activity followed by weeks of nothingness – this appears to be the new normal. Government procurements are now regularly delayed, and commercial acquisitions have their own form of quirkiness and unpredictability. The time in between proposals is incredibly valuable. This is the time to rest up, and then to sharpen the knives and get prepared for the next big surge. Here are some areas where all proposal teams can improve: Does your team really understand the products or solutions? This knowledge can be very … Continue reading Ask the Proposal Doctor – Dying of Boredom
Dear Proposal Doctor, Our team is in a pitched battle over the proposal outline, and until we resolve it, this proposal is going nowhere. The government’s Section M evaluation criteria (different from what is in Section L) are stated in paragraph form with no numbering or lists or bullets. The paragraphs read like a stream-of-consciousness novel with little form or organization. They are repetitive. Yet some on our team want to take each phrase and make that phrase a heading in the proposal. If we had unlimited page count, this might make sense, but we don’t. Should we organize according to Section L instructions and try to weave in the key words from Section M whenever possible? The endless debate and churn is cutting into the valuable time available to write and develop compelling graphics. How can we achieve closure? Soon! -Sick of Debating Dear Sick, Your question is a good … Continue reading Ask the Proposal Doctor – Sick of Debating