A proposal is like any other complex project. To ensure an
To create the proposal schedule:
Identify the "drop dead" date
Schedule printing to be completed with plenty of time for shipping or delivery of the final document. Include at least one or two extra days to allow for emergencies and problems.
Create a Gantt chart for a large-scale project, using a tool like Microsoft Project. Identify the critical events or deliverables in your project.
Look for opportunities to
Don't forget to
build in time for a technical review
of the first draft
and a mock evaluation
of the final draft. The mock evaluation, or "red team review" as it's often called, should occur approximately two-
Use labor-saving tools whenever possible, including automation software, design templates, compliance checklists, and so forth.
Empower your contributors to do a good job the first time
by providing them with all the information they need, including insights into the client,
If writing proposals is your job and yours alone, assembling the team is easy. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit down at your desk, and the team is ready.
Complex proposals, or proposals that have extremely short deadlines, may require contributions from multiple contributors. In Chapter 16, where we discuss what's involved in setting up a dedicated proposal operation, I review the types of contributors you will want on a basic proposal team—a proposal manager, one or more writers, a graphics specialist, and one or more subject matter experts. It also makes sense to include the account manager, salesperson, or business development personnel who have uncovered the opportunity and who know the client best. Other
Like any complex project, writing a major proposal can be intimidating at first. You can get off to a good start if you hold an effective kick-off meeting. Your kick-off meeting process should include developing an agenda, creating checklists of requirements, gathering insight into the client, making key decisions, and generating a basic outline for the proposal quickly.
One tool that you should develop immediately if you regularly work with a team of contributors is an opportunity analysis worksheet. (See the sample in Figure 8-3.) Leave it blank before the meeting. Then work as a team to fill it in. The template should include information about who the customer is, who the decision
Opportunity Analysis Worksheet for Trust Administration
Customer's business profile
Who is responsible for decisions
affectingthe trusts? How do they make decisions?
What would they change about the way the trusts are set up or administered if they could?
What is the main benefit they want to gain from improving the way trusts are managed?
What elements of the customer's business situation are driving this opportunity?
Is there a compelling reason why they need to move quickly in changing the administration of their trust?
Are we positioned with the key decision maker? Do we have access to the authorities who can make this decision? Do we have strong
championswithin the customer organization?
The financial issues:
How many trusts does the customer have? How large are the trusts?
Is the customer completely satisfied with the performance of the trusts?
Are they completely satisfied with the yield?
What gross return did they earn on the trusts last year?
Who is currently handling the trusts?
How are the funds invested? Certificates of deposit or stocks/
What is the customer's investment strategy?
How many different fund managers do they have? Who are they?
What trustee fee does their current trust administrator charge?
What investment management fee do they charge?
Does the current trust administrator offer profit sharing?
So it's time for your kick-off meeting. Here are some tips for making it go smoothly:
Invite the right people , as outlined above. Don't neglect people you may need to work with later on the project. They're less likely to feel put upon if they're included at the outset, even if they choose to skip the meeting.
E-mail everyone the relevant background information , including a copy of the RFP, and other useful data before the meeting. This information might include:
Nature and scope of the RFP
Why this has been determined to be a "bid" project
Why it's important from a strategic perspective to win
Background information on the customer and its current situation
Historical data on previous relationships, if any, with this customer
Assume that no one will have
Create an agenda
for the meeting, but
Briefly review the material you sent them in advance and then complete the opportunity analysis form. This is also a good time to review the initial technical approach/solution that has been developed for this project, if there is one.
Discuss and agree as a team on the primary value proposition and any secondary strategies that you will use in writing the proposal.
Brainstorm as a team for evidence to support the value proposition.
Create a requirements checklist,
either during the kick-off meeting or very soon after, in which you list every requirement from the RFP, if there is one, or everything the customer has asked you to provide. You probably have the bones of your requirements checklist from the careful reading of the RFP you did when it first arrived. Now it has to be fleshed out, because when your proposal is done, you will use the requirements checklist to make sure nothing has been missed. Remember that the