As we all know, proposal success hinges on planning the work carefully, then executing that plan. While some interim deadlines may need to slip around a bit, the proposal due date and time is immovable, so a thoughtfully designed proposal schedule creates the conditions for success. Below are the key principles to follow when building your proposal schedule.
Tips to Build a Killer Proposal Schedule
1. Include actions on every day of the calendar: Make sure every participant knows what they’re supposed to be doing on each day of the proposal
2. Allow realistic time for production: Build in time to get the proposal ready to submit once the content is done; squeezing final production time against the deadline leads to errors
3. Include all related activities: Don’t be tempted to include only technical proposal activities; include all tracks of activity, including pricing, teaming, recruiting, and so on
4. Include appropriate number of reviews: Don’t be mindlessly committed to a standard number of color team reviews regardless of the proposal response time. Don’t do Pink, Red, and Gold if you have 10 days to respond; you’ll spend your whole time reviewing and not developing winning content
5. Include times, not just days (particularly for “pens down”): The schedule should be a precision tool; everyone needs to know exactly when each milestone will hit. And include the time zone for each time, since some contributors may be working remotely
6. When is “COB?”: Be careful not to use vague terms like “close of business;” COB your time may be midnight, while COB my time may be 5pm
7. Deliver a day early: It’s always a good practice to plan to deliver the proposal one day early, for more reasons than we have space to describe
Finally, what tool should you use to build your schedule? I’ve seen schedules done with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Project. While following the schedule principles is way more important that the tool you use, I’m mostly accustomed to seeing a schedule that looks like a calendar (not that I have an opinion).