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Avoiding Business Development Budgeting Pitfalls and Proposal Cost Cutting Blunders

As a proposal manager getting a proposal plan approved, I always found it difficult to get my management to approve a budget that was based on 40-hour weeks for employees and 50, 60, or even 70-hour weeks for consultants. It just didn’t look good: a consultant often cost more per hour than an employee, and got paid for every hour worked to boot. Yet, I managed to stay on budget and win. I would like to share how I did it with you.

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Six Strategies to Grow Aggressively in the Federal Market webinar on June 14th, 2012

If you manage a small government contracting business, you are one busy person. Like many other CEOs and senior executives, you still may be billable on government contracts, write proposals in your “free” time, and run daily company operations on top of that. If you are not building a lifestyle business meant to remain small, you may feel pangs of frustration by the way things are going.

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How Much Do Consultants Charge?

Let’s talk about the sensitive topic, proposal consultant prices. I don’t think I am revealing any trade secrets here.
How much proposal consultants charge varies from individual to individual, and can range between $60 an hour on the low end to $250 an hour and up on the high end.

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When Do You Need a Proposal Consultant?

A business owner has two options when engaging consultants: they can either outsource the proposal work entirely, or have consultants augment your business development team. Typically, there are severaltypes of situations when you should hire proposal consultants:

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How do capture and proposal consultants charge for their services?

If you have limited experience hiring proposal consultants, and wonder how they charge for their services as they help you develop your winning proposal or are curious if there are better ways to negotiate and work with consultants, read on.

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Executive Summaries For Winning Proposals Workshop on July 20, 2012

This workshop shows how to write one of the most critical proposal elements: a highly persuasive executive summary. The course starts with the common executive summary mistakes, and shows how to avoid them. It then walks the participants through when and how to develop executive summaries, who should develop them (and various management strategies for making it happen), optimum length, and other vital considerations. This course has adapted its effectiveness to the government and corporate arenas. It provides the six-part formula for winning executive summaries based on direct response, a marketing-related persuasion technique that fuels a trillion-dollar consumer market.

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Capture Management: The Right Way Of Gathering Intelligence

Intelligence gathering permeates every capture activity. It not only overlaps with the first capture aspect—knowing your customer—but is part and parcel of everything that drives capture – since the best informed wins!

Basically, Intelligence Gathering is research and detective work—you painstakingly collect little pieces of the puzzle and put together as complete of a picture as you can to make good decisions. As you learn about the opportunity and the customer, you will get into a full-blown intelligence gathering process that has multiple dimensions and involves a slew of information sources.

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Proposal manager’s midlife crisis?

Something happened to me over the past year – as if a switch flipped in my mind. All of a sudden, I can’t get enough of life and want to savor its experiences. Perhaps I’ve clocked too many years in the proposal war room, stayed up late nights seven days a week building a business for too long, and spent every free moment with my kids. Maybe I blew a circuit at one of the Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties. I am not yet at the BASE jumping stage, but I find myself fantasizing vividly about stuff like catching a jet ride to a classroom in another state with the top guns I will be training. This from a person who finds even the kids’ rollercoaster terrifying!

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Proposal Win Themes Development Workshop on July 19, 2012

This workshop offers valuable skills in win themes development as the most important element of proposal persuasion. The course walks you through the purpose of win themes and their building blocks. Then, it advances the learning beyond the mere mechanics to the inner core of win themes. It shows how to design win themes that deeply touch the customers exactly where and how it is necessary, in order to become memorable and influence them to select your company. It demonstrates how win themes morph into win strategies, and help increase win probability.

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Where to find good proposal consultants?

Where do proposal consultants come from, and what are the upsides, downsides, and risks typical to different proposal consultant sources? This is the second article in our eight-part series on How To Benefit The Most From Working With Proposal Consultants. If you have not yet had a chance to read the first part, please visit our blog at www.ostglobalsolutions.com/blog to read it.

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Advanced Capture Management on June 19-20, 2012

Masterfully facilitate brainstorming sessions such as Black Hats, Win Strategy Sessions, and CONOPS workshops; perform advanced competitive analysis; create advantageous teaming arrangements; apply formulas to solution development; and much more. The course also focuses on measuring and improving cost-efficiency and effectiveness of the capture team. This course takes capture management to the next level showcasing what does it take to maximize win probability and mastermind the most effective win strategy using cutting edge techniques.

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Success Factors In Federal Business Development

How hard can it be to do federal business development? All you need is to be good with people and a willingness to talk to decision makers, right? If it were so easy, why for years has BD been given a bad name, and why have many companies struggled to hire business developers who produce results?

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Cost Proposal Strategy for Proposal Managers on May 16, 2012

Although the government often states that cost is the least important factor in proposal evaluation, and that they buy on best value, statistics show that cost is the deciding factor in more than 90% of the federal contract awards. In other words, cost is incredibly important if you want to win. The Cost Proposal Strategy course offers practical tools for proposal managers on everything from cost volume basics to process, data calls, assumptions, compelling cost volume narrative, WBS, BOEs, price to win, and cost strategies.

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Preparing Winning Multiple Award and Task Order Proposals on May 14-15, 2012

The government keeps issuing more and more multiple award contracts (think EAGLE II, NETCENTS, CIOSP-III, T4, and so on). Multiple award contracts make up more than 50% of all government contracts. Now every agency has to have its own multiple award vehicle. But all these new vehicles do not necessarily mean more money to businesses.

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Foundations of Capture and Proposal Management classes next week

If you were considering registering for our classes next week, but were putting it off because you weren’t sure if your schedule would allow you to come, now is the chance to do so. These are small workshops where you will be working closely with our instructor, Olessia Smotrova-Taylor (who is a practiced capture and proposal manager, and the President of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) National Capital Area chapter), to learn hands-on methodologies that go far beyond the dry process and dive into the exact how-to of capture and proposal development. You will run a simulated capture process on a real opportunity, and will manage elements of a real proposal. You will not get this level of training anywhere. We only run these courses a couple of times a year, so do not miss your chan ce. The courses we will conduct are:

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FOIA, I hardly know ya! (Yearly Report Card on Federal Government’s efforts to track and manage Freedom of Information Act requests)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are a critical element of business development and capture. This is how you learn about a pursuit’s history and your competition. The problem is – FOIA requests are tricky:
They take forever to obtain – so someone needs to carefully track them and follow up relentlessly to get any results – sometimes taking months and rendering your requests useless for your capture effort.

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6 Steps To Put Your Proposal Team On The Same Page

Unless you are incredibly lucky and everyone assigned to the proposal is a great writer, you will need to do some just-in-time training to get everyone on the same page. The same goes for conceptualizing graphics. Here is how you go about quickly getting everyone on board to create a winning proposal.

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Power of Persuasive Proposals

Every proposal is first and foremost a sales document aimed to persuade the evaluators to award the contract to you. “Selling” in proposals is often misunderstood, however, because it happens to be a dirty word for many technical, engineering, scientific, and government personnel.

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How to effectively read a Request for Proposal (RFP)

As the saying goes, “well begun is half done”. Reading an RFP effectively is crucial to the rest of the proposal development process to eliminate sections rewritten over and over, omitted requirements, and ultimate lost of a proposal.

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Foundations of Capture Management workshop on April 17-18

Foundations of Capture Management workshop will arm you with real knowledge and tools you can apply immediately to capturing contracts. You will master techniques for customer engagement, intelligence gathering, win strategy development, competitive analysis, teaming, solution development, and more. This is an interactive 2-day workshop that is 40 percent lecture, 50 percent exercises, and 10 percent discussion. It will teach you real skills to raise win probability of the government contracts you pursue.

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Task Order Proposal Management Best Practices

The NCA chapter has nearly 1,000 members, and is the largest APMP chapter worldwide. At our last Dinner Series event, three speakers, Lauren Hammond, Director of Proposal Management and Support for Management Concepts; Dan Shyti, Vice President of the L-3 STRATIS; and Wendy Frieman, Consultant, shared their task order proposal management secrets:

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Advanced Proposal Management Workshop on March 15-16

If you have already taken the Foundations of Proposal Management course, or have experience with proposal management, the Advanced Proposals Management class is the class for you. It is an interactive 2-day workshop that is 60 percent lecture, 20 percent exercises and case studies, and 20 percent discussion.

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Cost Proposal Strategy workshop on March 12

Although the government often states that cost is the least important factor in proposal evaluation, and that they buy on best value, statistics show that cost is the deciding factor in more than 90% of the federal contract awards. In other words, cost is incredibly important if you want to win. The Cost Proposal Strategy course offers practical tools for proposal managers on everything from cost volume basics to process, data calls, assumptions, compelling cost volume narrative, WBS, BOEs, price to win, and cost strategies.

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IDIQ Task Order Manual template

I was recently invited by the South Korean government to speak at a conference on U.S. Government procurement. During my downtime in the hotel in Seoul, I had the opportunity to polish up and finalize my latest addition to OST’s set of proposal tools – an IDIQ Task Order Manual Template.

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Successful Planning for your BD Strategy. Interview with Business Development Expert

Some psychological studies assert that if someone writes down an idea and its implementation, there is close to 50% probability of it becoming a reality. If the implementation is broken down into steps that are captured in writing, the probability of being down goes up to 70%. Adding a date to each step raises this idea’s chance of becoming real up to 95%. It means that planning ahead clears the path for even the most unpredictable and seemingly impossible projects. This principle also applies to the mystery of business development process in government contracting.

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Create powerful win themes by attending our Win Themes Development Workshop on February 8, 2012

Once and for all learn how to develop incredibly powerful win themes that will make your proposal stand out (no matter how many binders are piled on an evaluator’s desk) at our Win Themes Development Workshop taking place on Feb 8, 2012 in Rockville Maryland: www.ostglobalsolutions.com/win-themes-development-workshop.

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Advanced Capture Management Seminar on Mar. 15-16, 2012

Masterfully facilitate brainstorming sessions such as black hats, win strategy sessions, and CONOPS workshops; perform advanced competitive analysis; create advantageous teaming arrangements; apply formulas to solution development; and much more. The course also focuses on measuring and improving cost-efficiency and effectiveness of the capture team.

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Obtaining Senior Management Buy-in

As I was teaching our IDIQs and Task Orders course on Monday, we were reviewing the best practices for a quick and efficient proposal development process. One practice was conducting a proper kickoff meeting. After attending many proposal kickoffs (some of which included a proper breakfast and a long PowerPoint), and then watching a proposal unravel, I have figured out what needs to happen in order to prevent a disaster. I distilled the information that needs to be shared with the proposal team into nine kickoff goals. It doesn’t matter what the size of the team is and what the length of a proposal is, you have to address all the goals – or there will be problems, guaranteed.

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Capture Wars

Government contractors engage in capture wars on invisible battlefields, playing the games of strategy, endurance, and focus. The stakes are high, and some do a better job than others. Here is a real life example: Team A is an incumbent, and they know the whole world wants to take their sizeable contract away from them. Read More

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Changes at OST

2012 has rolled in – and we are all back in our offices to greet the New Year. Just like the famed Chinese curse, we are living in the interesting times. It is a leap year, presidential election year, and a transition from one World Age into another according to the Mayan prophecies. With the defense bill signed today, and a slew of other changes underway that matter to government contractors, it promises to be an exciting year.

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Holiday Greetings from OST Global Solutions

With all the stress throughout the year, even when success is in the air,
It’s nice to take a break, and relax without a care.
So, take some time to clear your mind of burdens and pollution,
With a warm Happy Holidays from OST Global Solutions

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How to capitalize on IDIQs

It seems that the tides have turned in the Government contracting world firmly in the direction of IDIQs and GSA/VA schedules. If you are the Government, it is hard to imagine why it would not be the case. Instead of a lengthy 12-18 months procurement process, the Government can award a contract in two to four months, reducing risk of protest. In addition, the budget approval and end of the fiscal year window shrinking, it is hard to imagine that anything will change any time soon.

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Free morning seminar on winning Task Order and IDIQ contracts

We are holding a free 3-hour morning seminar on December 13, 2011 on the finer points of what it takes to win task orders, hosted by OST and Prince William Chamber of Commerce. This educational seminar is for business owners to learn the keys to success in today’s government contracting world, and for those in charge of winning Task Orders and would like to become a number one contractor on each IDIQ you hold. It covers the techniques on how get all the business that you possibly could, and to dominate the competition, regardless of whether you are a sub or a prime.

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We’re running our classes for the last time

OST has some exciting new initiatives coming up in 2012. Among them is a complete revamp of our training program. We are splitting many of our classes into core and advanced courses. This is your last chance to take our classes the way they are now – with all the advanced methodologies blended with core techniques. This is the last time we will offer our highly acclaimed cost strategy for proposal managers, proposal management, and capture management classes the way they were originally designed.

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Thanksgiving wishes and gifts

Happy Thanksgiving! This is the time for family and friends, no matter when your proposals are due, or how many you are working on at the same time. This is also the time to slow down and reflect – even if you can only afford a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of your work. Remind yourself what you are grateful for. Forget for a moment about the finicky nature of our economy, the super-committee failure, and any number of other macro and micro-economic challenges we face these days. This is a simple time – being grateful for small joys and everything that does go right. As one special ops soldier friend of mine said, every day on the green side of the grass is a blessing.

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Roadmap to winning in proposal cost volumes

Although the government often states that cost is the least important factor in proposal evaluation, and that they buy on best value, recent statistics show that cost is the deciding factor in most, if not all, of the federal contract awards. In other words, cost is incredibly important if you want to win. Proposal managers, however, work very hard on the technical volumes and wield little influence over this all-important volume.

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Creating Job Security, Higher Pay, and Developing High-functioning Proposal Teams

We got a question from one of our class attendees last week as to how she could expand into other fields in the proposal profession. Where could she grow from a proposal writer? Truthfully, in this field, there is always a way to command higher pay, be more in demand, and ultimately become a more successful professional with a high success record -whether you are an employee or a consultant. Today’s article is about how to go about it – but it is also relevant to you if you run a team of business developers and proposal professionals because this is how you will develop your “regular” BD capability into a high-functioning machine.

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Capture management: How to position to win before an RFP issuance training on December 8-9

Confidently compete against any government contractors, including the top five. In our two-day training Capture Management: How to Position to Win Before an RFP Issuance on December 8-9 you will master basic and advanced techniques for customer engagement, intelligence gathering, win strategy development, competitive analysis, teaming, proposal solution development, price to win, and more.

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Proposal Management: How to Write Less and Win More training on December 6-7

Get to the top evaluation scores by applying OST’s lean and highly effective proposal management process. Our two-day seminar Proposal Management: How to Write Less and Win More training on December 6-7 provides exact “how to” techniques for bid-no-bid decisions, RFP analysis, proposal planning, building and managing proposal teams, developing proposal section content, persuasion, brainstorming, graphics, editing, proposal reviews, debriefs, lessons learned, and more.

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Rules of Thumb for Proposal Win Themes

Picture a daunted proposal evaluator who has yours and a pile of other proposals to read. Visualize hundreds of pages of boring technical text with sparse graphics, until lines turn into ants running through a page. What will this evaluator remember about your proposal by the time he or she reads the next proposal, and the next?

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Cost Proposal Strategy for Proposal Managers training on December 5th

This course offers practical tools for proposal managers on everything from cost volume basics to process, data calls, assumptions, compelling cost volume narrative, WBS, BOEs, price to win, and cost strategies.

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Proposal Procrastination Flowchart

According to PsychologyToday.com study, 20% of all people are chronic, hopeless procrastinators. The rest, we figure, procrastinate to a lesser degree than “always”. The same study states that procrastinators tend to consume more alcohol (this probably explains a generally higher percentage of wine and beer aficionados among proposal professionals).

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Nothing is great right out of the can, proposal resumes included

There are many things that are accepted as truisms in proposals. One truism is there is always a pizza and coffee shop within one mile of where a proposal is being produced. Another is if your resume does not show it, you did not do it. The flip side of truisms is falsisms. One big falsism in proposals is that resume preparation is quick and easy. The ability to show what your people have done on similar programs is a huge contributing factor to the final outcome. Yet, quite often, younger writers are put on resumes because companies place a lower priority on them than they do on the technical section or executive summaries. However, to guarantee a winning outcome, the same attention to detail needs to go into shaping and presenting resumes as that which goes into other sections.

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New Capture and Proposal Training Schedule

We at OST are getting the year started in high gear by releasing our training schedule for the next three months that includes some of our most popular classes on capture and proposal management, and also brand new programs: Cost Strategy for Proposal Managers, How to Develop and Coach Winning Oral Proposals, How to Win Multiple Award and Task Order Proposals, and a webinar series for those who consider proposal consulting or those who are already consulting and are looking to make their jobs less stressful, increase their revenues, and get better clients.

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Mediocrities complain, superstars don’t… True?

There are proposal professionals who fight the battles and don’t complain about the lack of budget, imperfect capture, tight deadlines, or tough customers and difficult proposal team members.

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The Art of Capture Management: How to Position to Win Before an RFP Issuance

This capture training course covers six steps of OST’s lean but highly effective Capture Process, with exact “how to” techniques to position to you win proposals in advance of RFP issuance.

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The Art of Winning Government Proposals: How to Write Less and Win More

The proposal training covers the six phases of OST’s lean and highly effective Proposal Management Process, with exact “how to” techniques to prepare winning government proposals.