Showing posts from March, 2019

A Balancing Game: How Gymnastics Taught Me to Manage Proposals Gracefully

Growing up, I dedicated an inordinate amount of my life to gymnastics. To excel in gymnastics, or even do moderately well, you have to spend a lot of time practicing—and so I spent a lot of time in the gym. I was a decent gymnast. I had some natural talent, but I had to work hard to get by. I wasn’t naturally flexible, nor was I particularly graceful. I spent what seemed like endless painful eternities being stretched by my coaches so that my legs looked straighter, my shoulders opened farther, and my splits split wider. I endured countless ballet and dance classes aimed at making my moves on the floor and balance beam less stilted and awkward. I eventually became pretty good at the sport—but my point is that it took a lot of work. So What Does This Have to Do With Proposals? As I reflect back on my experience as a gymnast, I realize that over the years, I have transferred so many of the lessons that I learned in the gym to how I deliver in the proposal room. In addi

Make Smart Bid Decisions

Making smart bid decisions can be hard for many companies because it is so difficult to ignore the sunk costs that have gone into a pursuit. However, smart executives will not discount the opportunity costs of developing and submitting a proposal with a low probability of win. Remember to reassess the bid decision once the RFP is released and, if necessary, during key proposal reviews. Critical questions to ask include: Does the opportunity fit your business plan? Do you have an excellent customer relationship? Do you understand the customer’s goals, issues, and requirements? Do you have/can you get the people to support the requirement? Do you have the required experience/past performance? Can you team if not? Do you have the required corporate commitment and resources? Do you have a committed proposal team? Can you augment your staff with consultants if not? With a live RFP, if the answer to any of the above is NO, you should think long and h

6 Strategies To Tackle Tight Page Limitations

Tight page limitations are becoming a more frequent challenge as contracting officers continue to look for ways to streamline their acquisition processes. When faced with tight page restrictions, we often find ourselves struggling with trimming five pages of material into two pages of allocated space. However, sometimes the content we are working with is so long because it is simply overly wordy. Here are my tricks for removing the waste: Use Active Voice Eliminate Redundancies Strip out Empty Words Simplify Your Word Choice Use Graphics and Tables Strategically Focus Your Text 1. Use Active Voice. With active voice, the subject of the sentence comes first and performs the action in the sentence. Active voice is more straightforward and concise than passive voice. It typically results in shorter, sharper sentences. So not only does it take up less real estate, it flows better and is easier to understand. 2. Eliminate Redundancies. Remove redundancies that

6 Ways to Motivate Your Proposal Team

We all know that proposal teams are not always made up of willing participants. As proposal professionals, we continually struggle to find ways to motivate our teams and ensure we are getting the best results possible. This article will explore strategies to energize and add life into your proposal teams. Tina Benson suggests in an article published on the Chartered Management Institute website that, “By and large, teams reflect their management. So being an effective, proactive manager increases your team’s changes of achieving success.” In line with Benson’s suggestions, as a Proposal Manager, you can make great strides in increasing the motivation level of your team with the following six steps. 1. Contextualize the Contributions of the Team. We write proposals to win business. This means that the contributions of your proposal team create (or keep) jobs—often for those participating in the proposal development. Proposals drive revenue growth and maintenance for compan

Yes, Proposals Are Agile—Here's What We've Learned

Six weeks ago, I posted an article that discussed how proposal management is in actuality project management. I pointed out how our long-standing proposal best practices are Agile , and have been Agile long before Agile was the latest industry craze. The article sparked some incredibly insightful feedback and discussions, and so I spent the following weeks building on some of those discussion points in a series of articles focused on how we can expand the application of Agile in our opportunity pursuit processes. First, I discussed the role of stakeholders  and explored how we can better integrate stakeholders into the business development lifecycle. Then I looked at Scrum , how our proposal best practices fit into the Scrum model, and how we can learn further from Agile ideologies to improve our proposal processes. Next, I explored some common Agile tools , and discussed how we might apply them to increase the efficiency of our proposal processes. In the following weeks, I