One common sense way to get bid evaluators on your side is to make their lives easier. And a good way to do that is by structuring proposals to present information consistently. When narrative sections follow a consistent format, proposals become clearer and easier to read and score.
This month’s posts are about building that consistency into your proposals.
Begin with information architecture
The term information architecture is usually associated with websites. But the goal of presenting information logically and consistently makes equal sense, whether it’s across pages on a website, or sections and subsections in a proposal.
For example, an RFP to operate and maintain existing assets might ask for your business plan, operations plan, maintenance plan and transition plan. RFPs for new infrastructure would also require design and construction plans. An RFP for new IT or other equipment would ask for details of your solution.
Depending on the situation and issuer, safety, quality and environmental plans may be included in the above or called out as separate items in the RFP.
Proposal sections responding to these requirements will contain different content. But, by applying information architecture, each section will contain the same categories of content in the same order.
Develop a structure that works for you
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:
- What you will do: A vivid and complete picture of your response to the requirement
- Approach: Your thinking and process for aligning your response with the prospect’s requirements and hot button issues, and why your offer is superior to others
- Your organization: How you will structure your team, and highlights of key individuals and their qualifications
- Experience and performance: Proof you’ve done this before with evidence of your success
Always align your proposal sections and subsections with the RFP structure. Within that structure, apply your architecture to section introductions and to each subsection.
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 may not be organized consistently. In fact, submitted sections may not even contain the same set of information categories.
This can be true even you use a section content planner to help content developers analyse requirements and plan their sections. Next week, we’ll learn how to manage towards consistency—and make evaluators happy.
Next week: Organizing and managing for consistency.
Need help making your proposals clearer and more powerful?