Are you Squandering your Government Proposal Resources?

  |  May 22, 2019

Tim Birdsell —

You would not believe the waste in government proposal resources I’ve seen, due to lack of planning.  During the past 20 years, I have developed and led government proposal groups for all sizes of business.  And I am writing this article to share planning techniques that will enable you to avoid wasting your precious resources.

Failure to Plan

My first observation is that many businesses large and small fail to plan how they will complete their proposal workload during the year.  Seriously!  When developing an offer for the Government, do you go out and hire a bunch of consultants before you have a solution session?  Although I have seen that tried a couple times, it never works out well.

The Business Plan

The answer is to start with a business plan first.

Creating a business plan for your Proposal Team requires doing a comprehensive needs analysis to define:

• Customer base,

• Type services or product,

• Type contracts to pursue (full & open, IDIQs/TOs, GSA schedules, etc.),

• Anticipated turn-around time of proposals, and

• Number of proposals expected – by month.

No two business plans are alike, so yours may contain different headings, but the import thing is to define every significant factor in detail.  In my opinion there is no order of importance for these factors.  If you skimp-on any factor, you’re unnecessarily exposing the team to risk.  It’s through the analysis in creating the business plan factors you will know how to create a successful proposal response plan.  No matter how obvious the answer may seem, you need to do the analysis.

Customer Base: List your current customers, and customers you intend to pursue in the next year.  I think this number should be a percentage of the number of customers you have currently.  If you have 100 customers, 10 % growth seems reasonable as long as you expect to maintain your current base.  If you have 2 customers, I believe 50-100% growth is reasonable.

Type Services or Product:  Again, list your current services or products, and any new areas you intend to pursue in the next year.

Type Contract:  List your current contracts and those you plan to pursue over the next two years.

Turn-around Time:  It’s important you understand what the turn-around time for your proposals will be.  When IDIQs first became popular, it was common for the TO responses to be around 10 days.  But now most have gone back to 30 days.

Proposals Per Month:  You need to project, obviously it’s an educated guess, how many proposals your team will need to respond to each month based on available intel.  Let’s say you expect to do 40 proposals a year.  With just that information to go by, I would say you need two proposal managers.  However, if you lay it out by month based on the customer anticipated release date, and it works out as shown below, you would need one proposal manager augmented by consultants from mid-July through September.

Proposal Staffing Plan:  Where will you get the needed personnel?  The possibilities include proposal group members, corporate personnel who can be drafted, personnel pulled from customer site, personnel from subcontractors, and consultants.  Each option has its limitations, and arriving at the best answer for your company is as much of an art as a science.