Information architecture

A common-sense way to help evaluators understand and appreciate your proposal is to make reading and scoring it easier. And a good way to do that is by structuring information consistently.

The challenge

Proposal content, especially for large bids, is usually developed by several specialist teams, and then edited for voice and style. Content submitted by different specialists—especially if working for different companies—is unlikely to be organized consistently. In fact, submitted sections may not even contain the same set of information categories.

This month’s posts show how to build consistency into proposals drafted by teams.

Start with information architecture

The term information architecture is usually associated with websites. But presenting information logically and consistently makes equal sense for proposal sections and subsections.

An RFP to refurbish, operate and maintain an existing infrastructure asset might ask for your business plan, operations plan and maintenance plan and transition plan. A new infrastructure RFP would also require design and construction plans. An RFP for new IT or other equipment would ask for technical details of your solution.

Depending on the asset and issuer, safety, quality, stakeholder management and environmental plans may also be required.

Proposal sections responding to each of these requirements will contain different content. But, by applying an information architecture, each section will contain the same categories of content in the same order. Consistent structure will not only eliminate potential gaps and make the proposal easier to score, it will also demonstrate team alignment.

Instead of trying to shoehorn draft content into a common structure, create the structure first.

Tailor the structure to the opportunity

The categories you include will depend on the RFP and your win strategy. Here’s a possible set of categories for the sections named above:

  • Approach: Your understanding of the requirements and strategy for meeting key challenges and success factors
  • What you will do: A vivid and complete picture of your solution, including your team structure and key individual qualifications
  • Experience and performance: Proof you’ve done this before with evidence of your success in similar projects
  • Alignment: How your solution addresses the issuer’s requirements and hot button issues, and why your offer is superior to others

Always align your proposal sections and subsections with the RFP structure and questions. Within that structure, apply your architecture to section introductions and to each subsection.

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