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Three Ways to Finish the Proposal Year Right

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As we approach the end of the year, the proposal season tends to slow down for us here in the US. We are busy preparing for the holidays, so we might use this lull as an excuse to surf the internet and catch up on holiday shopping. While it is critical to take advantage of downtime to rest and rejuvenate, I encourage you not to waste the entire month away, especially if your workload is light. This end of year lull is a great time to close out the year right and make sure we start off next year’s proposal season strong. This week I discuss three ways to finish out your proposal year right.
1. Conduct Lessons Learned and Update Your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) As the year wraps up, take a look at your lessons learned debriefs from the last year or so and analyze them for trends. Look at common themes and share those trends with your team. Understanding these trends will not only help you to improve in the areas that may need some work, it will also allow you to pinpoint the th…

A Proposal Manager’s Wish List: Three Things to I’d Like to See Before the RFP Release

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As we approach the holiday season, many of us are developing our holiday wish lists. These lists might be filled with clothes, electronics, jewelry, watches—lovely things we can unwrap in the presence of our family and friends. However, this year, I am putting out there a simple proposal manager’s wish list: three items that capture managers can give proposal managers to support a much smoother proposal development process.
1. Key Personnel Your key personnel are critical components to your solution. They are the individuals with whom the customer is going to communicate regularly, and they are critical to delivering the mission. When you wait until after the RFP is released to identify your key personnel, you waste critical time looking for and qualifying the right personnel. This leaves too little time to develop the key personnel resumes in a way that best demonstrates their strengths and the value they deliver to your customer. Delaying key personnel identification also makes it…

On Mentors and Thankfulness

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You may have seen some posts recently about the ScribbleChallenge, an exciting scholarship initiative for APMP certification and membership. This amazing program was spearheaded by Baskar Sundaram to give back and honor his mentors, and I have really been inspired by Baskar and his message of gratefulness.
In light of this inspiration, especially as we head into the week of Thanksgiving here in the US, I wanted to recognize my mentors and take some time to express my thankfulness for these individuals. My mentors have served as critical resources for personal growth, career guidance, and specific proposal-related advice. I have been so fortunate throughout my proposal career to find amazing mentors who have encouraged me to leverage my strengths, work on my weaknesses, and continually grow and improve as a proposal professional.
I am thankful for Nancy Gordon-Brooks and Greg Wilson, who really helped to shape my early career development. They both helped me to recognize my strength…

How to Overcome the Challenges of Virtual Proposal Teams

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Successful proposals rely on close collaboration. In an ideal world, teams are assigned full-time to work on proposals, sitting in the same room, working on many projects consecutively. This removes barriers to communication and eliminates the distraction of other duties and assignments.
Before collaborative technology took off in the last ten years or so, it was much more common to see these dedicated teams working full-time on proposal efforts, collocated in war rooms, solving problems, developing solutions, and marching forward together until the proposal was submitted. However, in today’s world, we see this scenario far less frequently.
Today’s reality is that many times the proposal group is spread out over different rooms, locations, and even time zones. This makes it so easy for team members to avoid collaboration and work in silos. And when the team is not assigned full-time, individuals are forced to divide their attention between multiple projects and tasks, creating addi…

The Great Win Rate Debate

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A colleague recently posted about win rates and posed the question of whether win rate was a fair assessment of a Proposal Manager’s performance. It’s an interesting question since it seems to be such a huge focus in our industry, and I was surprised by how many individuals seemed to favor the metric. But here’s the Catch-22 of being a Proposal Manager: Proposal Managers can certainly be the deciding factor in a proposal loss; however, winning the proposal is frequently very much out of the Proposal Manager’s hands. This is because proposals are won during capture.
An Argument for Capture Rate The first problem with measuring proposal or capture professionals based on win rate alone is that win rates can be misleading, especially when it comes to impact on a business’s revenue and bottom line. Let’s say your team loses one large proposal worth $500M but wins three small proposals worth $10M each. In this instance, your win rate is fairly high (75%), but the impact to revenue is fairl…

Four Tips for Smoother Color Team Reviews

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Color team reviews are critical to developing winning proposals. Most large, strategic proposals should undergo at least three review cycles: Pink Team, conducted at about 65% to 75% completion; Red Team, conducted at about 85% to 95% completion; and Gold Team, conducted at 100% completion, before final production. When implemented effectively, color teams support stronger proposal content that is compliant and compelling, with clearly articulated strengths and customer benefits. This week I discuss four ways to make your color team reviews run more smoothly.
1. Select a Sufficient Number of Reviewers For the greatest success, make sure you select a sufficient number of reviewers to allow for a thorough review. Select a team of reviewers (independent of the proposal team) early in the proposal development process and schedule the time and place for the review well in advance. The review team should comprise a mix of proposal professionals and relevant subject matter experts. To avoid …

Nightmare on Proposal Street

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Proposal horror stories: for many of us, they have left deep scars, driving contingency plans and schedule buffers that often frustrate our teams. When developing our proposal schedules, APMP advises us to build in 10 percent of our proposal development time to plan for unexpected events. But until you’ve been the one stuffing binders in the back of an SUV, illegally speeding down a shoulder during bumper-to-bumper traffic, you’ll never truly understand the importance of these planning measures. And if you’ve ever taken these extreme measures only to still miss your proposal delivery—I know you understand the importance of planning even more deeply than those of us who have not!
In honor of the upcoming Halloween festivities, I thought I would share one of my favorite proposal horror stories.
Murphy’s Law A few years ago, I worked on one of those proposals where if something could go wrong, it went wrong. By this time in my career, however, I had already witnessed several proposal n…