This month, proposal development expert Beth Wingate, APMP Fellow, offers tips to help you build effective proposal schedules—whether you’re scheduling a month-long effort or a 5-day quick-turnaround task-order (TO) response.
Develop proposal schedule templates that you keep in your “proposal toolbox” so you can quickly pull out, tweak, vet, and publish your proposal schedule upon RFP receipt (create draft schedules using those templates during the pre-RFP preparation phase and then finalize them upon RFP release). Maintain templates for 5-, 10-, 15-, and 30-day responses. Come up with a set of schedule templates that fit your typical response types and timeframes.
Schedule proposals (including TO proposals) like any other project. Here are tips for developing your schedules:
- Develop your schedule both “backwards” and “forwards.”
- Develop your proposal schedule backwards from the submission date, and…
- Develop your schedule forwards, including time to prepare your outline, templates, kickoff meeting materials, and final storyboards, and then vet your schedule with the senior proposal team.
- Move and tweak your milestones until you’ve accommodated all necessary activities within your schedule timeframe.
- Minimize sequential tasks and maximize parallel tasks.
- Realistically estimate the time required for specific tasks—and add a little padding (10%) that you can then “cut” to look like a “team player.”
- Assign a person to each task with start and end dates.
- Divide major tasks into smaller, discrete tasks so you can track progress.
- Avoid scheduling weekends and holidays—this immediately sets a negative tone for contributors (Tip: try to schedule a “free” weekend before writing deadlines for those who want or need to write, but don’t show it as “mandatory”).
- Know and plan your proposal production time.
- Schedule time for all planned color reviews—allowing time to implement valid recommendations.
- Maintain continuous focus on meeting every schedule milestone—there’s a reason for the schedule and that’s creating the ability to deliver a compliant, compelling, winning proposal. Any schedule delay negatively affects that ability!
- Develop and publish your proposal schedule in whatever way makes sense for your organization and proposal team.
- Use MS Outlook calendar assignments—send MS Outlook calendar notices in addition to providing the schedule so that deadlines pop up on team members’ calendars—sometimes annoying, but always effective!
- Aim to deliver your proposal at least a day early. This gives you time to deal effectively with good old Mr. Murphy!