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Tips for proposal management
How to make the most out of your resources
People are not interchangeable parts. You should use people where you can get the most out of them. Some people are better than others at tracking and record keeping, following instructions, document formatting, proof reading, sticking to the schedule, following the RFP, etc. These skills do not always correspond to experience or pay-grade.
It will help if you understand what you really need. For example, some people have knowledge, but are lousy writers. They can contribute information, but the best way to get it might not be to ask them to write a section. Instead, pair them up with someone who has good interviewing and writing skills. If you have a good writer, instead of giving them a specific section, you might want to task them with re-writing instead. Then you can feed them the input from all of your subject matter experts. There is always more than one way to divide up the work that needs to be done. Pick the approach that best fits the resources you have available.
How to deal with subcontractors
Your subcontracts will always be late with their submissions, and when you get them they will not be what you asked for. Plan accordingly:
A version control process is vital
You must have a simple to follow, preferably documented, process for version control. It should include your file naming conventions, and address back-ups and roll-backs in case of a problem. But most of all, it should provide a complete and thorough audit trail. You may need to know who made what change when. You may not be able to simply rely on file date stamps, and may need to use tracking sheets.
How to use compliance tables
One of the major reasons that people are forced to do proposals The Wrong Way™ is that they are out of time. This is almost always caused by starting too late. You probably even know why and who’s to blame, but can’t do anything about it and have to figure out a way to submit anyway.
When you create your proposal outline, you can create extra work for yourself, or you can save yourself effort by combining requirements. A good proposal will track to the RFP perfectly and will address all requirements in detail and with examples. But you don’t have time for that. Instead, consider combining similar requirements and addressing them as a group. If you have time, you can provide a list of RFP paragraph numbers that a given section addresses.
RFPs often say that you should not simply respond by saying that you will comply with the requirement. So you have to do it without anyone catching on to what you are doing.
One way is to combine requirements in a table or exhibit. Then introduce the topic with high-level language talking about what will be done, the benefits it will provide, or your experience with it. Then refer to the table for a list of steps or components of your solution. You can improve on this by providing a column in the table for your approach (where you provide a single sentence’s worth of detail), the benefits of your approach, or how your approach mitigates risk.
By Carl Dickson, Founder of CapturePlanning.com
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