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5 Keys To A Successful Proposal Process Implementation

Having a process defined and documented is only the start. Most companies struggle to get their process implemented. Here are some tips that can help you survive the experience.

Make it easier to follow the process than it is to do the proposal without it. With or without a process, it's not easy to do a proposal. A well designed process, by eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel, will expedite things and make it easier to follow the process than to improvise. A more complex process, requiring more effort and training to follow it, reduces the advantage to the user, increases the perception that the process requires work over and above what is required to do the proposal, and increases resistance to the process. If you find yourself asking people to invest in following the process for an intangible future benefit, your process is too difficult. The process should show people how to do the things they will have to do anyway, and make it easier than coming up with their own solutions.

Prime the pump. Whenever possible, customize process templates and fill-in forms in advance. This lowers the effort to execute the process. Every time someone faces a blank page, the outcome is unpredictable. It also raises the level of frustration and resistance. Set things up so that all contributors have to do is to provide content.

Build training into the process and make it constant. Training should not be a separate once a year or even once a proposal event. Thirty-six five-minute sessions delivered at the moment of need are better than one three-hour session. Each task should come with guidance built in. If you have identified what you want reviewers to validate, then you have the criteria you need to enable contributors to self-review. Think of every instruction paragraph, checklist, or process document as a training tool. Build it into the process so that they don't have to go looking for it. Surround the participants with guidance.

Set expectations. Communicate clear roles and responsibilities at every step to ensure that participants know what they are getting into. No one should ever stop work or feel frustration as a result of not knowing what is expected of them. Process cooperation and acceptance starts with a clear dialog regarding expectations. The process should provide opportunities to raise issues with expectations early and frequently to anticipate and mitigate potential problems.

Ensure participants are capable of fulfilling their assignments. Even if the process defines roles and responsibilities, communicates expectations, and provides guidance, it will fail if participants are not capable of fulfilling their assignments or not are available to fulfill them. When staff are assigned who cannot fulfill their assignments, you are doomed to failure. They need to be helped or replaced as quickly as possible. To ensure the success of your process implementation, you should anticipate that this will happen occasionally and address it during resource identification and shortly after assignment tasking.

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By Carl Dickson,
Founder of and PropLIBRARY

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