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Daily proposal management

 November 29, 2016
by Paul Heron

Many proposal managers make the mistake of monitoring content developers too loosely.

However well intentioned writers are about completing their assignments, most have competing responsibilities. Some may be subject matter experts (SMEs) for whom proposal writing is an unrewarded add-on. Others may be juggling multiple proposals for different business units.

For these and other reasons (including procrastination) allowing a week or more to pass between progress reviews is dangerous—especially when the response time is short.

Instead, we recommend daily reviews. This post describes how they work.

Develop a review schedule

Two weeks ago we posted on communicating strategy to proposal writers as part of kick-off meetings. Last week we described tools and frameworks for proposal content developers.

During the kick-off meeting, also explain the daily review process, including where and when writers need to upload their content. Then follow the post kick-off process below:

  • Ask writers to use the tools and strategy you’ve provided to analyze and plan their sections, including visualization. Plans should include a client needs analysis, and bullet points for key items in each subsection.
  • For writers new to the process, schedule a first review to answer questions and provide encouragement.
  • Upon receipt, evaluate each writer’s plan. Look for compliance, client focus and integration of win strategies.
  • Review each plan with the writer, providing feedback and making notes for follow up.
  • Approve moving on to writing or schedule a review of the updated section plan.
  • During early-stage content development, ask writers to focus on one subsection at time, so you can identify and correct flaws before they multiply.
  • Ask writers to insert placeholders for visualizations they have identified. As soon as graphics are available, provide them to writers for comment and captioning.

When a writer has completed a section narrrative, ask him or her to draft a section summary and capsule statements.

NOTE: Always schedule one-on-one review sessions with authors. Group meetings and calls are not an efficient way to manage content development.

Make reviews focused and brief

Rather than reviewing all content from all writers each day, focus on one aspect across all submissions. This will allow for thoughtful analysis, rather than a quick skim.

For example, at the planning stage, devote a daily review to each of the client needs analysis, section outlines and planned visualizations.

As the writing progresses, focus reviews on specific elements, for example:

  • Section summaries and capsule statements across all sections
  • How well win themes are integrated into content
  • Draft selling captions for visuals

This approach will help build consistent messaging and voice across all sections.

You can also review one writer’s section in depth each day, spending more time on those with the highest scoring value and/or greatest room for improvement.

Encourage writers to self-improve

Resist the temptation to take a writer’s first effort and rewrite it to correct flaws. Instead, allow writers time to self-correct, based on your post-review input. Self-editing is a valuable part of growing better content developers.

Suggest writers read their content aloud to themselves to identify overly complex and run-on sentences and/or use the Flesch-Kincaid readability scoring tool built into MS Word’s spelling- and grammar-checking options. We recommend aiming for a Flesch-Kincaid reading level of grade 12 or lower.

The pay-off

Daily content management takes discipline and patience, but it helps avoid two common issues:

  • SMEs and writers frustrated because they’ve spent days on content, only to be told they need to start over
  • Nights and weekends spent trying to salvage content that arrives just before a review or submission deadline (or not at all).

Bottom line: Closely managed teams turn out better proposals in less time.




Need help managing your proposal content development?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 






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