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Two Hats

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Dear Proposal Doctor, People say I have a big head, but believe me, I would prefer to only wear one hat. Unfortunately, my capture manager is not doing his job. Communications with subcontractors are erratic and inconsistent, the pricing team does not have a strategy, and progress towards a viable solution is slow. Every time I jump in to help with these items, the team is so grateful to have someone providing direction. In fact, if not for my efforts, nothing would have been accomplished on many fronts that should be the responsibility of the capture manager. Wearing two hats is exhausting and I’m only getting compensated for one. How can I get my capture manager to do his job? Double Hatted Dear Double, The situation you describe is common in two respects. First, it is common to find many different definitions of capture. This job is not in the...

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Creating an Optimal Path for a Losing Proposal

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Dear Proposal Doctor: I am currently the proposal manager on what I believe to be a losing proposal. We have never met the customer and have no first hand insight to the customer’s requirements or hot buttons. Our technical architect has developed a solution that meets 75% of the customer’s requirements. My management is very enthusiastic about our chances of winning. What should I do? Sincerely, Troubled Dear Troubled, As proposal managers, we have to develop a range of skills and behaviors. Right now, your job is to learn to compartmentalize (not easy) so that you can take three steps: State your position. Get on with the show, because the show must go on. Address the long term. Here is what I mean. First, if you have not already informed senior management that this should be a no-bid, you should state all the reasons why the company is probably wasting...

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Faking Deadlines Foils Confidence in Proposal Team

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Dear Proposal Doctor, How can I get my clients to communicate the schedule accurately? We provide print and graphic services, so we are just one part of the proposal machine. Often the clients don’t communicate when there are extensions and leave us waiting for information. Or they give fake deadlines -- I believe their intent is to get the product back faster or instill a greater sense of urgency. What actually happens is chaos, which prevents accurate scheduling. My staff cannot prioritize without accurate deadlines for multiple projects. Even worse, there is a loss of trust. If the vendor isn't given timely or accurate information, it communicates that the person with the information doesn't trust enough or respect their resource enough to share it. That makes it harder to work together in an open environment after that. Frustrated and Indignant Dear Frustrated, Wow. You raise some important issues. Let’s take...

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Capture Manager Creates Chaos in Post-RFP Collaboration

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Dear Proposal Doctor, Please help me to not kill my capture manager! This person is still running some of the meetings even though the RFP is out. The meetings are long and rambling. There are no agendas and no action items. Proposal contributors are losing faith that we know what we are doing. They want to work on their sections. I am afraid that the energy is sapping out of the team just at the time that it should be ramping up. Since my jurisdiction has concealed hand-gun laws, although I would like to resort to violence, I need some alternatives in dealing with this situation. Ready to Kill Dear Ready, Yikes. It is hard to change course once a syndrome like this sets in. But it can be done. First, you need to have a heart-to-heart with the capture manager to explain that since time is now of the...

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