Managing the small stuff

Proposal teams typically dive into the narrative and pricing sections of a new opportunity with enthusiasm. But even well managed teams often show less appetite for tackling the more mundane requirements.

The result of this procrastination is several days of nerve-wracking frenzy at the deadline. Pre-submission hours that should be devoted to polishing and packaging the proposal are instead spent (for example) chasing a letter from someone who happens to be on vacation.

Here’s a better way.

Identify items and assign responsibility

When you create your compliance matrix, identify all the RFP requirements that aren’t part of the narrative or pricing. These may be appendix items—but not always. Some RFPs ask for insurance certificates and similar documents as part of a Statement of Qualifications section.

Examples of items in this category include:

  • Financial statements
  • Incorporation certificate
  • Insurance certificate
  • Performance bond
  • Details of projects using a proposed technology
  • Agreement to license a proposed technology
  • Safety and compliance records

Once you’ve identified these items, assign them to someone without heavy narrative and/or pricing responsibilities. A junior bid team member makes an ideal candidate.

Manage priorities based on dependencies

Tackle items that require third party action first. For example, if an overseas patent holder needs to provide a letter agreeing to licence technology, get that request started on Day One.

Some internal documents may also have long lead times. Team resumes sometimes can take time, and each should be checked to see it includes all information required by this RFP.

Monitor and escalate

Make these assigned items part of every team meeting, so the proposal manager can identify and escalate action on any items that appear problematic. Escalation is not necessarily a reflection on the person responsible for the list. It may simply take a more senior person to get action from the information holder.

Cruise to the finish

The benefit of this approach is a team that’s focused and working on high-value work right to the deadline. The result is the strongest possible proposal.

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