Ten Things You Did Wrong in Your Last (Losing) Proposal Effort

  |  January 25, 2012

The nuances of what is wrong vary widely from company to company. However, my experience is that the problems usually include some of the 10 things listed below:

 1. Your Program Manager-Designate was

  1. not known by name or face to the source selection official
  2. not assigned full-time to the proposal effort longer than 30 days before the final solicitation hit the street.

 2. You cannot list at least three important ways in which your firm was able to influence the solicitation, from draft to final.

 3. The first time your top management (at least one level up from the Capture Manager) addressed the proposal team was either at kick-off meeting, OR LATER.

 4. If subcontractors were involved, at solicitation release you had no more than one of these who had signed

  1.  non-disclosure agreement;
  2. exclusivity agreement’
  3. contribution of time, materials to proposal effort.

 5. You failed to obtain, in advance, a pledge from a high customer official, that, win or lose, your company would obtain a meaningful, thorough debrief of your proposal by the contracting officer and source board officials

 6. You did not perform and circulate a formal “WAS-IS” analysis between the draft and final RFP, including what those changes mean in terms of winners and losers within the customer organization

 7. A formal risk analysis of the RFP by the Contracts Department was either

  1.  not done, or
  2. had no influence on any cost/price decisions, INCLUDING choice of subcontractors.

8. There were either no formal reviews of proposal drafts; OR, if there were, at least one of these three important knowledge bases were missing

  • technology
  • customer
  • proposals

 9. There was NO formal de-brief by the customer, OR, if there was, no more than three people NOT present at the de-brief have detailed knowledge of the results. None of those who know are in these departments: contracts; estimating; pricing

10. There was no “commitment letter” from your top management representative. If there was such a letter, the term “commitment” was used at least once, but not defined.

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