DON'T PANIC! Plan your proposal like a project - #4 Proposal Management Process Lesson Learned
(4) Allow at least 10-15% of the proposal response period for proposal development planning, before the proposal kick-off meeting is held.
As recommended in the #3 Proposal Management Process Improvement Lesson Learned, when establishing your proposal development schedule, it is important to reserve approximately 10-15% of the proposal response time for planning and preparation. After the RFP is released, conducting a premature Proposal Kickoff Meeting or jumping into proposal writing are two of the biggest mistakes that can be made. Why?
Premature kickoff meetings lead to more rework and a less competitive proposal. The Proposal Manager and core members of the Proposal Development Team need time to plan the effort – just like any other project. Applying a formal project management approach to plan proposal development tasks is a best practice that is often underutilized. Planning can begin during RFP Shredding and as part of the Bid/No Bid Review, and should include the following activities:
· Identify required Proposal Development Tasks;
· Define roles and responsibilities (i.e., Volume Book Boss Roles, Writing Assignments) for each task;
· Establish the Proposal Development Schedule, including milestones for each task;
· Develop a running list of action items for tracking throughout the proposal response period;
· Develop a compliance matrix;
· Develop compliant Volume templates;
· Develop compliant Volume outlines, including compliant Past Performance templates and resume templates as needed;
· Develop any data calls needed; and
· Prepare for the Proposal Kickoff Meeting (i.e., agenda, brief).
The benefit of applying this rule of thumb for planning? The Proposal Manager must first establish direction, then velocity – until planning is completed, no Proposal Kickoff / Stand-Up Meetings should be held and no writing should begin. Otherwise, without focused and coordinated guidance from the Proposal Manager, the proposal development effort is destined to be an exercise in futility from the beginning –a chaotic, painful experience requiring rework during all-nighters to ensure a compliant, compelling proposal can be submitted on time.
Up front proposal planning is just one way your Proposal Manager can help the Proposal Development Team WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER! Proposal planning reduces proposal risks and prevents any 11th hour proposal crises during the active proposal response period.