Tight page limitations are becoming a more frequent challenge as contracting officers continue to look for ways to streamline their acquisition processes.
Sure, companies lose contracts because of faulty pricing, unqualified key personnel, lack of customer insight, a flawed strategy or approach, or some other technicality or non-compliance. But too often, these maladies are only symptoms, not the root causes for a loss.
As of 2014, Microsoft reported that they had a staggering 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users worldwide. These users include millions of professionals who rely on Microsoft Office software every day and use only a fraction of its capability.
As proposal professionals, we know that compliance is king, but did you know that MS Office has tools to help you work smarter AND achieve compliance?
Earlier this year we discussed how proposals are scored, not read. However, the truth of the matter is that evaluators do evaluate and score submitted proposals. Therefore, as bidders looking to win work, we should aim to make the evaluators’ jobs as painless as possible.
Here are four easy ways to make your proposal narrative more evaluator-friendly:
It seems that the trend in Requests for Proposals (RFPs) these days is to provide prospective offerors with a voluminous Statement of Work (SOW) or Performance Work Statement (PWS) and then give them minimal page count in which to address it in the proposal.
Each year at this time we stop and take a breath. Clear our heads. Gain some perspective. And reconnoiter the GovCon horizon.
You have just been tasked with writing the executive summary for a must-win proposal. The stakes are high, the pressure is real, and the scrutiny will be intense. Here are 8 tips for writing a clear, concise, and persuasive document.
We all have jams that amp us up. You know, the songs that get us up and moving no matter how tired we are. With all of the ups and downs that Proposal Professionals face on a daily basis, we decided to create a playlist to keep you motivated and smiling!
In Government Proposals, Proposal Managers develop a Proposal Plan to guide them through the proposal effort. A Proposal Plan is a comprehensive set of documents, instructions, processes, tools, and templates that aids in the proposal development process.
The Plan addresses and guides proposal activities at six major points in the proposal process:
- Understanding the Requirements
- RFP Analysis
- Win Strategy
- Proposal Logistics
- Proposal Writing
- Color Team Reviews
This is the fourth in a series of articles that discusses Part 4 of the planning process, Proposal Logistics.
Experienced Proposal Managers develop a Proposal Plan to guide them through the proposal effort. A Proposal Plan is a comprehensive set of documents, instructions, processes, tools, and templates that aides in the development of a winning proposal.
This is the third part in our Proposal Plan series, that discusses developing the Win Strategy.
An unsubstantiated claim in a proposal is a statement about any of your company’s capabilities, past experience and performance, product and service features/benefits, and discriminators that is not supported with a proof statement.
In Government Proposals, experienced Proposal Managers develop a Proposal Plan to guide them through the proposal effort.
A Proposal Plan is a comprehensive set of documents, instructions, processes, tools, and templates that aid in the proposal development process. The Plan addresses and guides proposal activities at six major points in the proposal process:
All of us have been there. If not, your day will eventually come. The Red Team Review members have done their pigeon-like thing. Now, your proposal writers are swimming in the after wash. How do you learn from it, keep moving, and improve your proposal?
In September 2016, I set off to explore unanswered questions regarding Category Management in our Category Management article series. Initial questions were:
As proposal professionals we are very process and procedure oriented. Process gives us control and because of this, the progressive, sequenced structure of color-coded proposal reviews is appealing. But how do you conduct effective reviews with less than a month from kickoff to delivery?
Spring never fails to remind me of the Easter Bunny and eggs! So, I got to thinking if I wanted to deliver the perfect proposal basket to the government in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP), what are the most important eggs that would go into my basket?
The Consolidated Appropriations Act (“The Act”), signed into law in March of 2018, provides $500 billion in new federal spending for defense and domestic programs over two years.
People often confuse proposal win themes and section themes. Win themes are those high-level features and benefits that transcend the entire proposal.
We have all heard about the importance of maintaining a healthy business development pipeline—an organized, visual way of tracking multiple potential buyers (federal agencies) and developing (or stalled) opportunities through different stages in the government contracting procurement process.
But most don’t understand that a pipeline’s importance goes beyond a mere list of potential contacts or contracts.
You are at the post-award contract debrief. Win or lose, you search for the good, bad, and ugly about your proposal.
It is becoming common knowledge that proposals are scored, not read. But as a writer, you may be compelled to tell the story in your proposal narrative. You may even get internal reviewers who lament over the fact that your proposal just isn’t telling the story well.
So much about developing proposals to win a government contract, is the scaffolding, the process.
That's where large primes have a decided advantage. They often have "proposal factories" of their own with well defined proposal processes and trained dedicated resources such as capture and proposal managers, technical writers, and graphics artists who can churn out proposals like Willy Wonka churns out Wonka bars.
The holidays are fast approaching and Christmas is almost here!
As a proposal writer who has just completed a long and hard 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.
In today's world of federal contracting, multi-company teaming arrangements are the rule rather than the exception.
Government contractors, small and large, team to gain a market foothold, offset vulnerabilities, obtain site knowledge, open doors to a larger key personnel pool, help with bid costs.
When we’re children we’re often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I don’t have kids of my own, but I can only assume most of them don’t respond with “I want to write and manage federal government proposals.”
Yet I found myself doing just that once I graduated college—feeling comfortable with the logistical minutia of proposals such as writing and organization, but not fully realizing the “what” and “why” behind the job.
So your company is hunting "big game" in the government contracting world? Well you are not alone. The Federal Government, both defense and civilian, operate their procurement and acquisition needs off of hundreds of contract vehicles a day.
You may have heard of some of these vehicles: Alliant, OASIS, SEWP V, CIO-SP3.
The progressive, sequenced structure of color-coded proposal reviews works. That is, it works on major proposals where you have lead time of 30 days or more, especially if there is a draft RFP that can help you jump start the process, and you have access to the client’s resources and Subject Matter Experts.
We often hear negative representations of Government contractors, and these stories seem to garner alot of media attention. But what about the positive impact these companies have on our larger community? Now more than ever, for professionals in the government market, it's important to know that each day you come to work you are privileged to have the opportunity to do something great, difficult, unlikely, or nearly impossible to achieve.
We've all heard the phrase there is no such thing as a dumb question. The fact is, even a seemingly obvious question can elicit a helpful and sometimes surprising response by the Government.
The world of Government proposals is a world with its own language and rituals. The first of these is learning the acronym RFP (Request for Proposal) and the process of shredding it down to the customer requirements located (or should I say buried, hidden, or disguised?) in Sections C, L, and M in particular. Soon thereafter, you will encounter on the proposal schedule color coded reviews: Blue, Pink, Red, Green, Gold, and White and even, sometimes, shades in between. And if that wasn't confusing enough, documents reviewed in each of these are often rated as Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue.
As someone who’s rewritten hundreds of resumes for federal proposals, you start to notice patterns in the way people construct their resumes that often make it difficult for evaluators to assess the quality of the candidates.
Resumes are the first chance the Government gets to meet (virtually speaking) your team, especially your key personnel.
On May 23, 2017, the White House Administration released to the public part two of its FY18 budget named “A New Foundation for American Greatness.”
This document works in tandem with the FY18 “skinny budget” called “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” released in March 2017.
On March 13, 2017, the Trump Administration released his “skinny budget”, his administrations’ first federal budget blueprint revealing the President's plan to dramatically reduce the size of the Government.
A benefit of being proposal consultants is the variety of our experience on a range of government proposal types, teams, and companies. It makes us useful and valuable, but it can also work against us.
In this post, the final of my Category Management Series, I am going to make a few suggestions for Business Development and Strategy Professionals to add to their Bid and Proposal “New Year’s Resolution” List. These resolutions are primarily based on the key trend of contract consolidation through Category Management.
Happy Fiscal New Year! With the start of the new fiscal year comes promises of a clean slate, and a fresh start fiscal start (or at least funding until December 9). It is also an opportunity to reframe your everyday business development tasks and reinforce your tactics to stay competitive.
Now that we have the WHAT down for Category Management (read Part 1 here)– it is time to move on to WHY. But first, a brief history lesson:
Lately I have come across a myriad of blog posts, articles, conferences and stories detailing a mysterious and ominous Federal Government Category Management initiative. I decided to do more research on the subject. I noticed two things immediately:
Your contract ends soon, and your customer will issue a new RFP. Who's worried? Over time the scope has increased, and the contract is now a significant element of the customer's business model.
According to many contracting officers, there is no such thing as over communicating when it comes to bidding on a contract. The most successful government contractors will ask the contracting officer intelligent and thoughtful questions to gain the most information possible about the Request for Proposal (RFP).
This strategy will help you create a well scored proposal.
In Government proposals, there are many wonderful professionals with extensive experience. However, there are a few bad apples out there that can damage your firm's bid, wasting your time and money. In this post, we'll go over how to avoid a predatory consultant and hire a great one.
Remember 5th grade English Class? Learning to write essays meant being handed a topic you didn't like, being given an impossible deadline, being forced to write, edit and revise multiple times, and getting irrational comments from the teacher who clearly hated you.
Since it's St. Patrick’s Day, I got to thinking about some of the Irish legends, and the first one that came to mind was the legend of the Blarney Stone.
Over the years our Proposal Experts have helped many small businesses significantly increase their government contract revenue through sound Proposal Management. In our "lessons learned", we often see many small businesses that are bidding as primes make the same proposal mistakes.
The most vulnerable point in the business development continuum is the handoff from capture manager to proposal management. This transfer to the proposal team seems to fail often. But why is that?
We see this time after time- the capture team creates a strong, defensible win strategy that by all measures should give the company an excellent chance of prevailing over the competition, but it never gets fully implemented by the proposal team management despite best intentions by all parties.
If you are an incumbent contractor, doing a respectable job, but have a nagging fear of customer “incumbent-itis” as the contract re-compete date draws closer and closer, here’s a strategy and best practice that can help solidify your chances for winning:
People in our industry are wondering to what extent today’s government contracting market conditions represent a “new normal.” And, if not how soon can we expect a return to the “good old days?”
The government's use of oral presentations as part of the proposal process rises and falls like the waves in the ocean depending on the prevailing philosophy at the moment.
We are often asked, sometimes too late, if the incumbent program manager should be assigned as the Capture and/or Proposal Manager for the recompete.
Like it or not, as a Proposal Manager your attitude is infectious.
For better or worse, you set the tone that others see and internalize. Your attitude as Proposal Manager determines whether you lead or detract, motivate or dissipate, build up or tear down, energize or deaden your team and its efforts. Make your attitude work for you, not against you, by modeling the following:
There is a common misconception that developing a compliant proposal is relatively easy — you just follow the instructions in Section L of the Request for Proposal (RFP), the way Dorothy and Toto in The Wizard of Oz followed the yellow brick road.
In Government Proposals, experienced Proposal Managers develop a Proposal Plan to guide them through the proposal effort. This is the sixth in a series of articles that discusses part six of the planning process, Color Team Reviews.
In Government Proposals, experienced Proposal Managers develop a Proposal Plan to guide them through the proposal effort.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard of The Hunger Games, the dystopian trilogy by Suzanne Collins that has edged out Harry Potter’s seven books as Amazon’s best-selling series of all time. The movies set records, and fans worldwide were hysterical in their enthusiasm.
In Government Proposals, experienced Proposal Managers develop a Proposal Plan to guide them through the proposal effort. A Proposal Plan is a comprehensive set of documents, instructions, processes, tools, and templates that aids in the proposal development process. This is the second in a series of articles that discusses Part 2 of the planning process, RFP Analysis.
You've been assigned to manage a major proposal. Before springing into frenetic action, withdraw to your quiet place. Ground yourself. Anticipate. Plan. Preview in your mind the production about to unfold. Have a vision for how you will lead your team to win.
Here are 6 tips for tine-tuning your perspective:
Your RFP (Request for Proposal) has just been released, and whether you are a single company, teamed with another company, or have multiple teaming partners, you will be required to submit various types of information as part of your proposal. This information typically includes a statement of your corporate capabilities, Section K information (Representations/Certifications and Statements of Offerors), Section H information (Special Contract Requirements), information on past contracts, and resumes of key personnel.
I've worked proposals for two decades now, and I have a confession to make: I don’t create outlines for my proposals.
At least, not as a separate step. Eventually, yeah, I’ll be able to reverse-engineer an “outline,” but that’s a by-product of my other, far more important effort: to get the writers the tool they need to do their jobs.
As a Capture or Proposal Manager for a government contract, eventually someone will call for a technical “solution architecture.”
Unfortunately, most do not know what one is, what it looks like, or the difference between a good one and a bad one. There is no commonly accepted definition or measure of merit for what constitutes a technical solution. Moreover, even experienced writers fail to realize that, for most proposals, there is usually not a (single) solution architecture, but many.
An effective proposal review process is absolutely essential to the crafting of a winning proposal.
Unfortunately, the proposal review process in many companies is viewed as more of an annoyance than as a strategic business tool, to the clear detriment of the proposal. Often, proposal reviews are not planned; rather, they are scheduled at the spur of the moment. Many times the reviewers who participate do so because they are the only staff immediately available. Frequently, those assigned to review the proposal are not even familiar with the Request for Proposal (RFP), its requirements, or what the company is offering. They are rarely briefed on their responsibilities as reviewers, or on the desired outcome of the review process.
Subject matter experts (SMEs) are necessary to almost every proposal. They are the ones who design and build the product (or provide the service).
Capture is as much art as science.
The best Capture Managers are not made in a classroom. The best capture techniques are learned from a mentor in the heat of battle.
Capture Management is too important to be delegated to the last individual standing when all of the direct charge numbers are handed out elsewhere. Inexperienced Capture Managers need tips, tools, methods, processes and insights on how to conduct effective capture.
Successful proposals respond to the needs presented in the RFP. However, successful proposals also respond to “invisible” issues that influence decision makers: their “wants.”
You’ve heard it before. This doesn’t stop me from saying it again: proposals are a tough business. Don't get discouraged! Before reaching a breaking point, here are 15 actions you can take to heighten your enjoyment when working on a long, complex, and demanding project or proposal.
Since we proposal professionals don’t have enough pressure on us during a proposal effort, I thought I’d share these handy tips to spice up your life during those all-night deadline parties!
No doubt about it, proposals are hard. Tight deadlines, incomprehensible and inconsistent RFP requirements, lack of sleep, high carb diets. And the need to demonstrate to the government that not only is you qualified for the award, you are the best choice, hands down. These are all factors outside of our control. Unfortunately, companies also hamper themselves by staging a proposal team that is dysfunctional, and they do it to themselves.
In•cum•bent [in-'kəm-bənt] Noun. The current holder of a contract. Ex: The incumbent was preparing for a recompete of work it had successfully performed for years.
A sad, but true, fact of the proposal business is that proposals are not always edited to ensure that they are grammatically correct, internally consistent, conform to the pre-established proposal Style Guide, and read as though the entire proposal was written by the same person (commonly referred to as “one voice”).