All I Want For Christmas: A Proposal Writer's Wish List

The holiday season is fast approaching. The stores are putting up their holiday displays, and many of us are already planning get-togethers with family and friends, where we will enjoy good food and good cheer. There will be cards to write, packages to wrap, a wreath and tree to be purchased, and stockings to be hung.

As a proposal writer who has just completed yet another 60-day turnaround proposal, I got to thinking about what proposal professionals like me might like to receive this holiday season, just in case someone out there with a beard and a red suit wants to know.

Here's my list:

1) An RFP with unambiguous Section L instructions

2) An RFP with page limits that are reasonable and can be met given the RFP instructions and the size and scope of the Statement of Work.

3) A compliant outline. Enough said.

4) A “win strategy” that clearly documents how the company intends to win the work, so that it can be integrated into the proposal document at the beginning, not the end, of the effort.

5) A complete technical solution. There is nothing more frustrating than writing a technical solution that does not exist, and rewriting, and rewriting, while you wait for the solution to be developed.

6) Timely, meaningful feedback on proposal content from subject matter experts who understand and know how to execute the work, and know how you plan to win. This also includes having Pink and Red Team reviewers who are knowledgeable a
and can tell the proposal writer how to fix the proposal document, not just present vague statements with no instructions for how to improve it, (e.g., “this is weak”).

7) A proposal manager who can guide the writing team, resolve issues that impede the writers’ progress, and maintain momentum as the proposal due date looms ever closer.

8) A dynamic proposal coordinator who helps writers with graphics and other tasks to help ensure quality control.

9) A repository of “proof statements” that clearly demonstrates that the company has performed successfully in the past and will do so on the proposed contract.

10) A production team that can produce the review copies, manage all the corrections and edits between reviews, and deal with formatting issues that inevitably arise, produce the final document on schedule, and make the writers look really good.

11) A SharePoint site where we can easily post our proposal content and maintain version control.

And Santa, don’t worry — there will be milk and cookies.

Written by Ellen Perrine

Ellen Perrine is a Vice President at AOC Key Solutions with more than 30 years of experience in federal proposals including strategy development, proposal management, compliance management, and technical writing.
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