Proposal schedules should be about more than just crossing off the items on your outline and counting the days until your deadline. Proposal schedules should be about whether you have achieved your goals and done the things necessary to win. In order to ensure those things get done, you need a Validation Plan to check each item. The following lists put the items you need to win in sequence and provides guidance for when they should be validated. The result is a set of proposal milestones that can be used to trigger reviews and measure progress.
Before RFP release, validate that:
- The opportunity is worth pursuing
- You have identified what it will take to win so you can measure progress and quality against the list
- You have defined your win strategies
- You have identified and taken the actions needed to implement your win strategies
- You have collected the intelligence you will need to write the winning proposal
- You have properly positioned your company
- You have done everything you can to prepare for the proposal
- You are ready for RFP release
At RFP release, validate that:
- The RFP is what you expected
- The RFP does not contain any requirements that are show stoppers (including all performance standards, service levels, and other specifications)
- The contractual terms specified in the RFP are acceptable
- You are still interested in bidding
Before you start writing, validate that:
- Your proposal plans are ready to implement
- Your Win Strategies are correct and optimized against the evaluation criteria
- The compliance matrix includes all response requirements
- The outline includes all requirements from the compliance matrix in the correct sequence
- The Content Plan identifies everything needed to produce the right proposal, and can be used as a baseline to evaluate the draft against
- Each graphic in the Content Plan has the primary objective identified
- The schedule is the best allocation of time, and deadlines are realistic and enforceable
- Assignments are correct, no one is overloaded, and everyone who can contribute is included
- The Validation Plan is sufficient to meet the required quality standards
- The Production Plan is RFP compliant, properly sized and scoped, and will result in the right deliverable document
Upon receipt of early drafts (incomplete), validate that:
- The draft addresses everything in the Content Plan. Track deficiencies until gone.
- The draft is compliant with the RFP. Track deficiencies until gone.
- The draft contains experience citations in every place relevant/possible throughout the document. Make suggestions.
- The proposed approaches reflect the best cost/benefit trade-offs and the customer’s preferences.
- In every section, has every opportunity been taken to use graphics to communicate visually?
- Will you have any problems staying within any page limitations?
Upon receipt of later drafts, validate that:
- Any changes to the RFP have been incorporated.
- Nothing has changed in the document that might make it non-compliant.
- The draft will score against the evaluation criteria.
- The draft properly implements all win strategies.
- The draft reflects your full awareness of the customer.
- The draft positions you properly against the competition.
- The reasons why the customer should select you are clear.
- Are graphics used to replace text instead of being redundant?
- Is the primary objective or conclusion of each graphic clear?
- Is everything in the graphic appropriate for the anticipated audience?
- Does the graphic answer all of the questions that it should?
- Does the graphic present the subject matter accurately
- Are the graphics free of errors?
- The document is ready for production.
Early Pricing Validation
- The pricing model is properly structured
- The pricing targets are valid and competitive
- Assumptions are being collected and tracked
Later Pricing Validation
- The pricing data is compliant, accurate, and properly structured
- All ODCs and other costs are accounted for
- Explanations are properly provided for any pricing data that require them
- All assumptions are fully documented
- The pricing is compatible with the technical/management proposals
- The pricing data is competitive while meeting revenue/profit goals
- The document has been edited and proofread
- The document matches the specifications of the Production Plan
- The document has been assembled correctly
- The document is ready to package
- The packaging and labeling match the specifications of the Production Plan
- The document is ready to submit
- The document has been received