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Proposal Management Basics Tips on Proposal Writing For the: STC Tech Comm Career Day PowerPoint Presentation
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Proposal Management Basics Tips on Proposal Writing For the: STC Tech Comm Career Day

Proposal Management Basics Tips on Proposal Writing For the: STC Tech Comm Career Day

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Proposal Management Basics Tips on Proposal Writing For the: STC Tech Comm Career Day

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    1. Proposal Management Basics & Tips on Proposal Writing For the: STC Tech Comm Career Day By: Kristen L. Sweet March 15, 2003

    3. Proposal Management Approach Proposal process Includes: Documented process Training for all team members Schedule to implement process Create a process that defines the responsibilities of the team Follow the structure to ensure the successful completion of a proposal

    4. Proposal Process Team Members Within proposal development, the roles and titles of the team will vary There may be a large team or a proposal team of one Proposal Manager: obtains all resources to produce the proposal Volume Leader: leads the development of a proposal volume for a multi-volume proposal reports to the manager Proposal Coordinator: supports manager with the development process Production Leader: leads the publication process (Printing/Copying/Binding/Packaging) Proposal Writer/Illustrator: works with the manager/volume leader to provide text and graphics illustrating the solution Proposal Editor: edits all drafts of the proposal Pricing Staff: provides the cost information for the solution proposed

    5. Any proposal manager (or outside consultant, for that matter) who claims to know how to run a serious proposal effort without chaos should be quietly and briskly dismissed from reality. Chaos is the very nature of the proposal beast, and the manager who accepts this fact is ready to face another one: While the chaos of proposal work cannot be eliminated, it must be controlled. Otherwise, it will eat the managers, the proposal team, and the proposal itself alive. Pugh, 1993, p. 82 Proposal Process

    6. Proposal Process

    7. Proposal Process

    8. Proposal organization will vary according to the size of the proposal team Budget restrictions will dictate the development process Complexity of the proposal requirements will determine proposal resources including: Deadlines Bid/No Bid decisions on other proposal efforts Teaming agreements with other companies, contractors, and vendors needed produce the proposal Technology needed to develop the solution Proposal Process

    9. Managing resources isnt just a pre-RFP concern Utilizing proposal staff only when needed will reduce costs and minimize distractions to remaining team members However, the proposal team may find itself growing as the deadline approaches Deficiencies in fulfilling the requirements Vendor/Company limitations Proposal Process

    10. To minimize the deficiencies the proposal team may need to: Provide training for all staff Proposal seminars Software training (MS Office, Adobe FrameMaker, Photoshop, Visio, etc) Develop standards to prevent having to recreate the process for each new opportunity the company pursues Plan writing assignments Outline the requirements Prevents rewrites later in the process process Outline the format and production requirements Utilize contractors and vendors for proposal development Implement technology allowing for efficient and effective proposal development Proposal Process

    11. There are many ways to write proposals as there are companies, but many of these ways are crude, ineffective, expensive, and bound to repeat many previous mistakes We cannot stress enough that organized proposals are probably twice as likely to succeed as those fly by the seat of the pants exercises Whalen, 1996, p 1-3 Proposal Process

    12. Define the process in writing Summary Basic guidelines to tailor for each proposal Detailed checklist Documenting the process eliminates re-inventing the wheel each time Establishes quality Provides the frame work for a lessons learned session following the completion of a proposal Proposal Process

    13. Provide the guidelines to the team Proposal Instruction Book Preparation schedule Detailed instructions/responsibilities Planned strategies/win themes Summary of proposal approach Writing/graphic guidelines Style/format guidelines (may vary according to RFP) Summary outline with a requirements matrix Organization/roles of staff Specific company work flow/communication standards and procedures Proposal Process

    14. .managing a proposal is one of the toughest, most challenging jobs you will ever encounter. It involves dealing with a wide variety of people with conflicting interests and organizing and directing the efforts of an ad hoc collection of people with diverse talents and expertise into a cohesive, motivated team under the most adverse circumstances in an intensive activity and under great pressure to achieve a goal against which the odds of success are not favorable. Can you think of a more daunting endeavor anywhere else in the world? Helgeson, 1994, p.206 Proposal Process

    15. The proposal instruction guide should include the following tasks: Capture plan: customer, strategy, and lessons learned analysis Customer interface plan: contacting contracting officer/customer prior to the RFP released, during the development, and after delivery Facility material plan: knowledge of the customers facility, furniture, computer equipment, etc. Staff plan: organization of the team Communication plan: knowledge of the team players, development process, meetings, schedules, etc Document process plan: storyboards, mock-ups, text, and graphics to illustrate the solution Proposal Process

    16. The proposal instruction guide should include the following tasks, continued: Quality assurance plan: reviewing/editing proposal drafts to ensure quality Production plan: preparing the material, style, and format of the text and graphics for delivery Security plan: ensuring the material is contained on company networks, not accessible to the public Assembly/Delivery plan: packaging final proposal for delivery to customer, making arrangements for delivery (Fed Ex, email, UPS, USPS, etc Proposal Process

    17. An enormous amount of time is wasted in aimless, rambling meetings replete with musings and irrelevant chatter of unfocused dilettantes intent on wasting everyones time while they run their mouths. I would wager that the man hours wasted every single day in the conference rooms of America would be equivalent to the number of man hours required to build the Taj Mahal. Helgeson, 1994, p. 192 Proposal Process

    18. The meeting is an elaborate part of the proposal process Proposal strategy Bid/No Bid decision Kick off meeting Storyboarding Discussing cost estimates/strategy Reviewing various stages of the development Pink Team Red Team Blue Team Gold Team Proposal Process

    19. Good proposal management includes developing meetings that are effective and useful to the team players Involve necessary team members Create/distribute the agenda prior to meeting One leader per meeting Start and end on time Stay focused on meeting agenda/topics Strive for consensus Use visuals to illustrate agenda/topics Summarize agenda/topics at the end of the meeting Follow-up with a summary email Include any To Dos and responsibility of the To Do Proposal Process

    20. Proposal Writing Tips Proposal content is divided into two categories: Solicited: proposals with specific requirements Unsolicited: proposals with little or no guidance on how it should be developed Proposals that do not address the requirements are non-complaint Even if the proposal addresses all the requirements, if it is not organized properly it can still be categorized as non-compliant because the reader is lost in the content

    21. Planning a proposal involves: Developing an outline based on the customer requirements Requirements matrix to illustrate the proposal outline cross-referenced to the RFP Requirements matrix allows the outline to be developed further Incorporates ideas into a storyboard format Content Graphics Layout/presentation Proposal Writing Tips

    22. A proposal must deliver critical ideas quickly and easily. Your writing must be clear if you want others to understand your project and become excited by it. It will be hard to accomplish this if you have not clarified your thoughts in advance. Geever and McNeil, 1993, p. 17 Proposal Writing Tips

    23. After finishing the requirements matrix - refine the outline Brainstorm on proposal subject Establish ideas into logical categories Major Minor Reorganize outline Organize according to the draft proposal Group ideas together (display a hierarchy) Make sure the outline is clear Expand on ideas Make sure each subdivided point has at least 2 subordinate points Proposal Writing Tips

    24. The storyboard is a writing worksheet that helps the authors organize their stories into main discussion points or topics. The storyboard enables the planning of each topic around the thesis-theme-visual elements of a short persuasive essay (i.e. the natural passage of technical discourse). The purpose is to help the authors discover their stories, help them to be more pointed and purposive (i.e. encourage a problem-versus-solution slant in their arguments), and let the proposal team review the material before its written out in a hard-to-follow and hard-to-change draft. Tracey, 1993, p. 54 Proposal Writing Tips

    25. Storyboards: Provide general proposal information Title/Volume number Section author Font/Size/Page requirements Identify proposal requirements RFP section number Requirements matrix section number Identify proposal theme Provide section summary Illustrate graphics Proposal Writing Tips

    26. Benefits of Storyboards Improves quality of proposal by identifying RFP requirements early in the proposal process Integrates text and graphics required to meet the requirements of the RFP Provides the ability for the team members to comment and address each proposal section Identifies how each section meshes into one complete proposal Proposal Writing Tips

    27. Benefits of Storyboards, continued Allows proposal team to identify and correct any content/graphics problems early on in the proposal process Less writer-ego issues Revising outline will take less time Fewer revisions because outlines were initially agreed upon during storyboard reviews prior to writing Proposal Writing Tips

    28. Proposal Writing Tips Developing a clear, comprehensive picture of what the client is seeking is the single most important part of your whole proposal preparation process - if you get the requirement wrong, youll get the solution wrong. McCann, 1995, p.53

    29. Proposal Writing Tips Reader Obstacles: Impatience: understanding the organization of the proposal content If information can not be found easily, the reader wont spend the time looking for it Time conflicts: balance between evaluating a proposal and conducting other work commitments Interruptions: due to time conflicts, the reader will not be able to read through the entire proposal in one sitting Lack of knowledge: readers may not have knowledge of the topic; thus losing interest in the proposal Shared decision-making: writers also have a challenge of meeting the needs to readers who have varying levels of influence on winning and losing proposals

    30. Proposal Writing Tips Reader Needs: What do you know about the reader? What is the reader looking for? What role do they play in the organization? What kind of influence do they have? Will one person conduct the evaluation or will it be a group of people? Research the types of proposals other companies, colleagues have prepared Provide a better understanding of what you are up against with writing this proposal

    31. Proposal Writing Tips Reader Needs, continued: Identify the audience Who is the decision maker? Provide their own assessment or work in conjunction with others to assess the proposal Who is the advisor? Provide input to the Decision Maker

    32. Proposal Writing Tips Reader Needs, continued: Identify audience knowledge/skill level Proposal writing often entails translating technical information into a non-technical format Reader Categories: Managers: decision makers Experts/Specialists: highly technical Operators: will use the product/solution Generalists: catch-all group - know the least about the topic Strategy meeting Discuss all customer issues/concerns Develop ways to solve these issues/concerns

    33. Proposal Writing Tips Basic rules for writing the proposal: Rule 1: Write with an effective style Concise without sacrificing clarity Avoid clichs, trite or wordy phrases Use active voice to provide clear understanding of what you are proposing Keep customer perspective by using you/your Avoid distracting text changes Vary length of paragraphs to allow for comprehension and readability

    34. Proposal Writing Tips Basic rules for writing the proposal, cont.: Rule 2: Grammar usage Verb/subject agreement Identify pronouns Ensure sentence modifiers are clear Avoid dangling/misplaced modifiers Proper use of commas Avoid command errors in word usage

    35. Proposal Writing Tips Basic rules for writing the proposal, cont.: Rule 3: Write with clarity, conciseness, and accuracy Ensure sentences are developed in a clear format Avoid sentences being interpreted in other ways Avoid ambiguity Forces the reader to select the meaning Dont assume the reader has knowledge of the topic Writing in a manner that would allow the reader to be able to comprehend the information without asking for clarification Verify the content for accuracy Research

    36. Proposal Writing Tips Basic rules for writing the proposal, cont.: Rule 4: Use paragraphs as the framework of your writing Paragraphs represent the building blocks of the document Typical length is 6 to 10 lines Split the information between multiple paragraphs if it goes over the 10 line limitation Shorter paragraphs adds white space increasing the readability of the document

    37. Proposal Writing Tips Basic rules for writing the proposal, cont.: Rule 4: Use paragraphs as the framework of your writing Use a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph Clearly illustrates what you are about to discuss Develop a main idea Provides concrete supporting details to the topic sentence Develop transitional elements Provides the flow from one paragraph to another Develop closing sentence Provides concluding sentence about the topic before moving on to the next section

    38. Proposal Writing Tips Simply regurgitating the RFP buys you absolutely nothing; it will earn the evaluators disgust with your ineptness, or worse yet, his everlasting hatred for your insult to his intelligence. Helgeson, 1994, p.99

    39. Proposal Writing Tips If a proposal is to make a good first impression, the readers first 10 seconds of exposure are crucial. The readers first concerns are: How long will this one take to evaluate? Is it long and wordy or short and concise? Is it well organized? Who submitted the proposal? Content counts more than form, but first impressions are also created by a proposals outward appearance, especially by evidence that it is well organized and easy to read. Jacobs, Menker, and Shinaman, 1990, p. 124

    40. Proposal Writing Tips Proposal Writing Rule 1 Follow your writing plan Storyboards provide a starting point Make sure your proposal strategy complies with the RFP Integrate text and graphics to illustrate your theme Proposal Writing Rule 2 Provide the basic proposal details Keep it basic Who, What, When, Where, How, Why

    41. Proposal Writing Rule 3 Ensure your proposal details have purpose Avoid data dumping Respond to the contents of the RFP Provide background information to help the reader better understand the content of the proposal Provide details to illustrate that you understand what the RFP is looking for Gain the readers credibility by illustrating that you know the details of the RFP Dont assume the reader knows what you are talking about Proposal Writing Tips

    42. Proposal Writing Rule 4 Use boilerplate information, but use it carefully Technical specifications, company information, advertising and other marketing material Make sure that it fits the requirements of the RFP Poorly tailored boilerplate wastes space, reflects an unprofessional approach, shows little concern for your readers needs Proposal Writing Tips

    43. Proposal Writing Rule 5 Select the right verb tense Present tense: something that exists now Future tense: for something that will exist or occur in the future Present tense is the best because it reflects availability Avoid passive voice Readers tend to get lost Does not reflect a professional understanding of the requirements Proposal Writing Tips

    44. Proposal Writing Rule 6 Substantiate your proposal claims Unsupported claims within your proposal does not provide credibility Dont expect your reader to believe it just because it is written Back it up with facts If you cite past experience, make sure that experience clearly illustrates the overall theme of the proposal and fits within the RFP requirements Proposal Writing Tips

    45. Proposal Writing Rule 7 Sell benefits, not features You ought to be writing the proposal to sell stuff. Products, services, projects, ideas. Whatever youve got. The proposal is a marketing tool; it helps you make money by convincing people to contract with you for the kinds of things you can provide. The proposal positions your product or service as a solution to a business problem. Sant, 1992, p. 9 Proposal Writing Tips

    46. Proposal Writing Rule 8 Be logical in your persuasive argument Good arguments form the basis for effective proposal writing Persuasion tries to convince the reader to adopt to a certain point of view or pursue a certain line of action Argue why your product or service should be purchased by the customer Proposal Writing Tips

    47. Proposal Writing Rule 9 Attack proposal weakness head on It is normal to want to avoid placing anything in the proposal that suggests a weakness in your product or service or your ability to meet customer needs To mitigate a weakness explain it early on Illustrates you have done everything you can to eliminate the weakness It is better to have the reader know your side of the story Adds to your credibility Proposal Writing Tips

    48. Proposal Writing Rule 10 Write lawfully and ethically Comply with legal and ethical standards Content that is illegal or unethical may cause you to lose the contract, be subject to lawsuit and/or other charges Avoid using unauthorized proprietary information Verify all information is correct If using materials from another company, make sure written authorization has been provided in advance Proposal Writing Tips

    49. Final note on Proposal Writing Tips: Proposal writing must overcome the readers roadblocks Time constraints Impatience Interruptions Lack of knowledge Shared-decision responsibilities Meet with your customer as much as possible during the development Incorporate those ideas, comments into the content of your proposal Summary

    50. Final note on Proposal Management: Proposal Development is a process Clearly defined Documented Use time wisely Develop schedules, tasks, proposal plans Monitor schedules, progress - maintaining the balance of the team Avoid changing the schedule, plan upon team agreement Summary