Our last two posts made the case for documenting a proposal strategy and running a proposal kickoff that motivates, informs and directs your subject matter experts.
The next step is managing to the submission date. That’s the subject of this post.
Manage SMEs closely to avoid surprises at content deadlines. Rather than simply seeking assurance they’re making progress, break down their writing assignments and review their results at each step.
This approach is especially critical in consortium responses, where the requirement for consistency of approach and writing style runs up against a variety of corporate cultures.
Consider adapting the process below and roll it out at kickoff, getting SME buy-in on dates for each step:
- Ask SMEs to use the strategy and tools provided at kickoff to analyze and plan their sections, including ideas for visualization. Output should include a client needs analysis and bullet points for key items to be covered in each subsection.
- Conduct an initial review with new-to-the-process writers to answer questions and provide encouragement. Do this within a few days of kickoff.
- Evaluate the plans as submitted for completeness, compliance, client focus (responsiveness) and integration of win strategies.
- Review each plan with the writer, providing feedback and making notes for follow up.
- Depending on the quality of the plan, ask the writer to proceed to drafting or schedule a review of the updated plan.
- Ask SMEs to begin by focusing on one subsection at a time, so you can identify and catch flaws early on. In addition to compliance and responsiveness, evaluate any commonly-agreed structure.
Ask writers to insert placeholders for visualizations they’ve identified. As soon as rough graphics are available, provide them to writers for comment and captioning.
Managing schedules and attachments
Most RFP responses include a variety of forms and attachments. It can be tempting to ignore these until just before submission.
That’s a mistake. We’ve seen several examples where the designated signer or “the person who handles those” is unavailable due to vacation, illness, etc.
Save yourself grief by making a list of all these items and being proactive about collecting them well before the proposal is due. Examples include:
- Financial statements
- Bank references
- Incorporation certificate
- Insurance certificate
- Performance bond
- Agreement to license a proposed technology
- Safety and compliance records
Use an ATOC
Set up an annotated table of contents (ATOC), or similar tool, to document and track all the components of the response and the status of each in near-real time. Share it with section leads as a way of keeping everyone aligned on content assignments and deadlines.
Next week’s basic: Executive buy-in
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