How Do Your Proposal Processes Compare with “Best Practices”?

  |  March 30, 2012


We can evaluate a specific proposal, and make some high-level observations about, for example, how the presentation could have been done differently, and better. However, that is not only fairly expensive (in consultant time) and it’s of limited value, for a variety of reasons: It’s just one proposal; it’s probably a better-than-average one, or the company leadership wouldn’t have offered it; it’s probably a winner, for that same reason; it’s just the proposal, which is only partly reflective of the process that created it.

Proposal process is very important, and therefore it’s worthwhile to try to answer the question of how a company’s processes compare with “best practices”. But there’s a better, cheaper, and easier way to answer that question.

A Simple Exercise

We have developed a list of eighteen topics in proposal process. This isn’t the only list that we could make, but it’s a list that cuts across many different pieces of your processes. Here’s the list of topics:

  • The Technical Solution
  • Marketing Questions
  • Roles and Responsibilities of Proposal Team Members
  • Executive Summaries
  • De-Briefs
  • Competition Analysis
  • Storyboards (and other products {that is, results that are intermediate products} not delivered to the ultimate customer)?
  • Meetings
  • Team Building
  • Cost Alternatives and Cost Volumes
  • Evaluation Teams
  • Facilities
  • Proposal Tools
  • Training & Education
  • Top Management in Proposals
  • Resumes and Archived Materials
  • FOIA
  • Management Volume’s Organization Chart

Each of these topics has a specific question associated with it. For example,

14. Training & Education What kind of training is most effective in creating proposals?

We suggest that you call a meeting of your business development staff, executives, and other interested staff members, at your place of business. We time box this meeting at 90 minutes. The process is this: We hand out a copy of the eighteen issues and associated questions on a worksheet (two pages). An OCI facilitator asks for a suggestion of which issue to discuss first, let’s say #6. For the next 4 minutes, the group as a whole discusses this issue, and at the end of 4 minutes, each company participant ranks on their own copy of the list the CURRENT state of conformance with “best practices”, from 1 (not doing well at all) to 5 (doing very well indeed). And so on through as many topics as we can cover. (After about 75 minutes, we should have been able to get through all 18, although we may decide that some are not worthy of discussion.) A company employee then collects the worksheets, tallies the result, and presents the results to the group, either immediately or later. This ranking then forms the basis for which topics need the most help, and an action plan to improve those sub-par pieces.


Discovering how your company’s proposal processes compare with “best practices” is important.

We show here a simple, low-cost way of getting that information.




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