Tag Archive for proposals

Overview of an Effective Proposal System

An effective proposal system must have procedures for the following three major steps.

Step 1 – Filtering (deconstructing, reverse engineering) an RFP. Filtering has to be performed by an experienced proposal writer because proposal requirements can be buried almost anywhere in a hundred page plus RFP. Miss a requirement and its all over but the shouting and gnashing of the teeth.

Step 2 –  Use the results of filtering to produce a compliance matrix and an outline based on the compliance matrix. The filter will extract precisely what the evaluators want to read in the proposal and what volumes or chapters required, sections/subsections in a required volume, and the evaluation scores associated with each section/subsection. Using the compliance matrix to produce a proposal outline results in proposal that provides exactly what the evaluators want to read; nothing more, nothing less.  When the evaluator starts to read a compliance matrix driven proposal they say: “these people know what they are doing. Maybe I better read on.”

Step 3 – Add to the outline:

  • Instructions for writers
  • Color coded RFP requirements and evaluation criteria to guide the writers
  • Any technical and/or management content from a proposal library of old proposals.

Most small businesses don’t have a proposal library. Start now and build on containing legacy content, up-to-date resumes, and up-to-date experience summaries. An up-to-date library can cut proposal writing costs in half.

The result of using a proposal system is a 100% compliant proposal containing what the evaluators asked for in the RFP.

Proposal Writing Tips

Federal proposal writing is misunderstood, frustrating, expensive, and demoralizing. You must have an experienced federal proposal writer (commercial experience doesn’t count), hire someone with experience, or use an outside service.

Most federal insiders consider proposal writing the Achilles heel of the business but know how to play the game and keep their proposal costs within reason.

Secret 1 for newcomers: Don’t write proposals for customers to whom you haven’t sold, or at a minimum, who at least know who you are. Bidding opportunities galore may appear wide-open to all, but invariably they have already been pre-sold by one or more companies well before the opportunity becomes publicly announced.

Secret 2: Some federal contracting officials may imply to newcomers that pre-selling is “naughty” when in fact it is encouraged by federal regulation. How could they buy things without knowing what they are buying? Do you buy software without knowing what you are buying and its value way before you spend the money?

Secret 3: Requests for Proposal (RFPs) are made purposely complex to justify contract awards to aggrieved losers, federal auditors, or the public and press, if they ask.