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Proposal Quality Validation IS the Proposal Process

If you look at any proposal process, you will find the review phase to be at the heart of it. The review phase verifies that the proposal was written correctly. The planning phase helps ensure that the writing phase can successfully pass the review. Because the purpose of a proposal process is to improve quality, and quality is achieved through reviews, the proposal process serves mainly to prepare the document for review.

I recently developed a new methodology for doing proposal reviews called Proposal Quality Validation (PQV). PQV addresses the need for many types of reviews throughout all stages of the proposal. The basic approach to implementing PQV is to define the specific outcomes that you want and to plan a validation review to ensure that they are achieved.

Recently I was considering how to integrate PQV into the overall proposal process. While thinking about it, I realized that every outcome desired during each phase of the proposal should be validated. Proposal Quality Validation isn't just for the review phase, it's for the entire effort.

Traditional proposal processes treat the review phase as something that comes after writing and before production. With PQV, it is easy to extend the "review phase" much earlier into the process. This is usually a key goal of proposal managers, but difficult to achieve. Because PQV starts by validating the proposal plan, it already starts before the writing. In fact, PQV starts before the RFP is even released because it can be used to validate the readiness of proposal preparations. You could begin applying PQV the moment a lead is identified to ensure that it meets the specifications for pursuit. Like many things in PQV, these are things that you should be doing anyway. PQV helps you formalize them and make them part of an overall process.

Here are some key attributes of PQV and how it impacts the overall proposal process.

Phase/ActivityPQV Impact On The Proposal Process
Lead Identification and QualificationValidates that the opportunity is worth pursuing and corresponds to your strategic and tactical goals.
Intelligence Gathering and Business DevelopmentValidates that you are ready to start the bid and have collected the information you will need to win.
Proposal Start-upValidates the proposal plans prior to writing.
Proposal Writing and ReviewValidates the execution of the plans by making sure that what was produced reflects what was planned.
Proposal ProductionValidates the assembly of the final document to make sure it is accurate and ready to submit.

PQV covers each phase of activity. It also forces you to identify the criteria by which you judge the quality of performance within each phase. It not only gives you the process, but also the tools to measure progress and performance within the process. It also provides a common basis for approaching each phase and brings everyone onto the same page regarding how to approach process within their areas of responsibility.

Curiously, I developed PQV because the color team model has failed to produce effective results consistently. If the review process is the heart of the proposal process, and the review process is flawed, I wonder if that isn't a big part of the reason why people have been struggling with their proposal processes. I also wonder if a more effective review process might just lead to better results with the overall proposal process.

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By Carl Dickson,
Founder of and PropLIBRARY

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