What is the secret to managing a successful proposal?
For large bids, I have always found that pre-RFP release work enables both capture manager and proposal team to hone their solution, identify strong teaming partners and establish a good pricing strategy. Once the RFP is released, managing a successful proposal starts with a solid compliance matrix that maps all requirements, i.e., proposal instructions, evaluation criteria, and SOW, that is translated into the annotated outline so writers know exactly what they need to focus on in their writing. I have also found that conducting an interim proposal review prior to Pink Team Review, whereby allowing writers to query SMEs, is advantageous and allows the proposal manager an early view of potential problem areas. After that, it’s all about an organized approach to following up on all proposal sections to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, conducting effective team reviews and managing the proposal timeline.
Although proposal managers are not often involved in the pricing section, I believe it is important to follow-up with the capture manager and/or pricing volume leads to make sure the pricing proposal is consistent with the technical / management proposal sections. To that end, I normally send pricing leads highlights of the technical and management section, if not the section responses itself, with highlights on areas that may affect pricing. Lastly, the proposal needs to be submitted on time so to mitigate any submission issues, it is important to incorporate ample time for final approval, proposal packaging and delivery time into the proposal schedule.
Any tips for writing a winning proposal?
To me, writing a winning proposal is a process which starts with reading and understanding the proposal requirements. I read the proposal several times with focus on the introduction section which tells me the customer’s current environment and their desired “to be” state. I, then, validate the compliance matrix and annotated outline to ensure all requirements are mapped. This is normally when I add my notes derived from the introduction. Using source material and the capture plan provided by the customer, I start writing to each requirement ensuring compliance and focusing on “how” statements, proof points, and benefits to the customer. When I’m finished with this initial draft, I normally have many questions, highlighted in red letters, which I provide to the SME prior to conducting an interview. This process continues through each review and, generally, by Red Team review, the result is a complete, compliant and compelling proposal section(s).
Biggest proposal pet peeve?
From a proposal management perspective, success requires the client’s commitment to a viable solution, the process, and the timeline. It is a pet peeve when a client is too busy to fully focus on their part of the proposal process.
From a proposal writing perspective, one of my biggest pet peeves, is when clients provide a slew of reuse material without any capture guidance. Don’t get me wrong, reuse material is helpful in the beginning and helps me understand the company’s technical solution and can be used for the initial draft. But, in order for the proposal section(s) to be compelling and specific to the proposed customer solution, customer knowledge is critical which can only come from the proposing company.
Where was your last vacation and what was the highlight of the trip?
My last big vacation was to Greece where my daughter, son and I island hopped from Athens, Mykonos and Santorini. These were areas I had only previously seen in pictures and it was fantastic to see it in real life and to create new memories with my kids. Lest I forget to mention – the food and wine were awesome.
I’m leaving for Bali at the end of September and staying for 2 weeks. Although I’m not looking forward to the long flights, I can’t wait to see that part of the world.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I like to draw and paint (watercolor, oil and acrylic). For college, I wanted to go into fine arts, because I fancied myself an artist, and I was actually accepted to one of the top art schools in the east coast. Fortunately, my Dad had the presence of mind to stop and divert my college career because I probably would have starved as an artist. But, I still enjoy drawing and painting, as a hobby, and actually have a couple of pieces decorating my house.
If you could meet anyone in the world (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Nobody comes to mind, but I would like to see and talk to my Dad again. It’s been 17 years since he passed on and I still miss his presence.