Storyboards are a planning tool that many people have heard of, but very few have implemented successfully. With storyboards, you complete a form for each item in the outline. The storyboard contains headings for items that should be addressed in each section. Authors complete the storyboards to provide the information that needs to be presented in a section and complete the low-level outline. Stakeholders can add and review information on the storyboards to perfect the plan prior to writing. Storyboards work well for proposals that require brainstorming a unique solution to the customer's problems.
However, storyboards have a number of problems:
- They are inefficient, requiring the production of a document that is separate from the proposal itself.
- Because they are separate from the proposal, they are easily left behind and ignored by authors.
- They don't work well in a distributed environment with remote authors.
- There is a limit to the amount of information they can accommodate.
Storyboards have one big advantage. If you take a large room and put them up on the walls, you can walk around the room and see the plan for the proposal. This assumes that you have a large room, and that all authors and reviewers are physically co-located. This is often not the case, mitigating the primary advantage of using storyboards.
We prefer a different approach, one that we refer to as creating a Content Plan. We prefer this approach because:
- The planning document becomes a set of instructions that the authors follow.
- It smooths the transition from capture planning to proposal writing by providing a vehicle to carry intelligence forward.
- Authors work directly in the planning document instead of leaving it behind.
- Instead of creating extra steps, Content Plans make it easier for the authors.
- Content Plans can be used with geographically dispersed authors.
- The Content Plan turns proposal writing into a process of elimination and enables progress to be measured.
- The Content Plan provides a baseline that enables the proposal to be validated.
While many of the goals are the same as storyboards, we find that this approach delivers better and more reliable results.