• Deb Yeagle

Proposal Writing 101 Training - #7 Proposal Management Process Improvement Lesson Learned


(7) Provide guidance / training for writers – don’t assume they know how to write proposals and/or compliant responses.


A Proposal Manager is often provided with writers who are Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from the technical staff that have never written proposals before. If these SMEs are given proposal writing assignments without any guidance, the outcome could potentially be disastrous. Any writing that is produced may consist of non-compliant technical information dumps, full of extra or unimportant details, or include uncompelling vague information and generalities.


The key to avoiding this scenario is to plan ahead and conduct storyboarding through interviews with the assigned SMEs. The storyboards developed can be used as the basis for writing compliant and compelling proposal responses. During this process, it is important to have the SMEs develop conceptual graphics and visuals that illustrate a clear technical approach to meeting the customer requirements.


In many cases, the schedule may not allow enough time for storyboarding. If pre-RFP proposal planning is not feasible, and the RFP has already been released, then the Proposal Manager should either provide writers with proposal guidance and/or training.

Very clear writing guidance, including page budgets, annotated outlines, and writing samples can be provided to proficient writers to ensure minimal rewrites occur. Depending on the time available, this writing guidance can be supplemented with training to ensure the SMEs understand how to develop appropriate proposal responses.


This training should explain how proposals are evaluated and how to write to the evaluators. The concepts of Compliance and Responsiveness to requirements should be clearly explained so that the writers do not “parrot” the requirements. The training should illustrate the basic proposal response structure, explaining the concepts of Understanding, Experience, and Approach. In addition, sentence and paragraph structure guidelines and writing conventions should be provided as part of this training.


By planning ahead to conduct storyboarding, provide annotated outlines / writing samples, and/or deliver training to your writers, you can ensure development of a compliant, compelling proposal. While SMEs and technical staff may not be proficient in technical writing, an effective Proposal Manager is a facilitator who can bring out their best to add their innovative solutions and relevant experience to develop a winning proposal.

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