A Proposal Manager’s Wish List: Three Things to I’d Like to See Before the RFP Release
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 difficult to weave key personnel strengths and value-add into the proposal narrative.
Identifying key personnel early enables a stronger, more detailed resume section and supports a more cohesive connection to the program organization, technical, and management approaches.
2. Past Performance References
Your past performance references are critical to establishing your credibility with the customer. Past performance demonstrates that you have performed similar work previously and that you have performed it well. When you wait until after the RFP is released to identify your past performance references, you waste critical time looking for and qualifying the right references. This leaves too little time to develop the past performance narratives in a way that best demonstrates the similarities in scope and the value that this experience provides to the customer. Delaying past performance identification also makes it difficult to weave these past performance vignettes and value statements into the proposal narrative.
Identifying past performance early enables a stronger, more detailed, and better tailored past performance volume and supports a more cohesive connection to the technical and management approaches.
3. Hot Buttons and Win Themes
Identifying customer hot buttons and win themes helps the writing team to understand what the customer cares about. When the writing team doesn’t have a list of customer hot buttons and win themes before the RFP is released, the first drafts must default to generic approaches that won’t resonate with the customer or the color team reviewers. Going back to retrofit narrative to address customer hot buttons and weave in win themes takes so much more time than writing to them in the first place. In addition, this delayed approach often results in awkward flow and stilted content.
Identifying hot buttons and win themes early enables the team to develop approaches that directly address the customer’s concerns and highlight the strengths of the team. This supports stronger content from the beginning, saving time in the end and resulting in higher quality final proposal content.
In an ideal world, my wish list would comprise a fully developed capture plan, period. However, most of us understand that even in the most rigorous of organizations, very rarely do we ever see a well-developed and complete capture plan as we move into the proposal development phase. But even if you don’t have time to hand over a fully-developed capture plan before the RFP release, I urge all you capture managers out there to make time to identify the following key solution elements: key personnel, past performance references, customer hot buttons, and win themes. Documenting these elements before the RFP is released will save valuable development time and support more focused proposal content from the beginning. This will result in a smoother proposal process and, ultimately, a stronger proposal in the end.
Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)