A robust proposal process is integral to writing winning proposals. Being able to translate all the great information collected during capture into a compelling, concise, and compliant proposal by the due date (and without undue stress) is the key to success of a proposal effort. The use of proven processes eliminates chaos and it enhances and coordinates everyone’s efforts.
Unfortunately, many people think that the proposal process boils down to reviewing the RFP, writing the proposal section by section, and submitting it by the deadline. It is not that simple. The proposal process is a set of milestones, steps, interim deadlines, and regular reviews so that the document is ready in the best possible state for improved win probability. Many people do not understand the importance of following the discipline of these interim process steps, believing that the “real” proposal deadline (when it is due to the customer) is the only one they have to respect.
Having a process will help you manage expectations for yourself and the team. You will know what to do, by when, how, and by whom. People who are writing the proposal with you will also be more accountable to you, knowing what you will expect of them. You will be able to know when and where you need specific resources. For example, you will know when you will need your technical SMEs the most, when you will need your reviewers and when you will need editors.
In the process of developing a proposal, you will have an opportunity to positively impact the quality of the document if you are not the only one writing it. You will continuously read the sections others produce to ensure that you can course-correct if they have drifted from the requirements. You can measure progress against the specific milestones, knowing exactly where you need to be by a certain point. You will also know that you need to reassign or add resources if certain sections are not ready and you fall behind. You will also maintain better momentum with the process, rather than when you do not have a process.
You will have a clear workflow established for those situations when you don’t have much time to waste, like getting your SMEs to write the volumes and sections, getting the drafts to the proposal writer to be polished, getting them back to SMEs to review, getting them to management for formal review, getting them back to writers to address comments, and then editing these volumes and sections, producing them, printing, binding, checking and packing. When you analyze the lessons learned at the end of your proposal, you will be able to pinpoint what could be done better and therefore improve the process. This would be nearly impossible to do if you proceeded in an ad-hoc manner.
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