Turn your Losing Management Plans into Winners

  |  November 7, 2017

Guest Contributor: Vince O’Connell

I’ve seen hundreds of proposal-losing management plans. Usually they are compliant. But they fail to strongly contribute to winning the contract. Below I will share what I have learned in the past 30 years about producing a management plan the helps you win.

Push Your People

Since most competitors largely apply similar PMBOK processes and have the technologies to meet deliverables requirements, the real differentiator might be who you are proposing as your PM and Key Personnel. When possible, ask the customer for nominees. Save some space for information on the relevance of their background to the work you are bidding on. If the customer is likely to know the PM and others, show their photos in the organization chart or table of roles and responsibilities. Make your people a main win strategy.

Solution in Advance, Focusing on How You will Excel at the Relationship Management Role

The Government wants an easy-to-work-with and highly competent performance partner. They know that when they choose a new contractor, they are entering into a “marriage” for the next 4-5 years. So, take a breath before you start writing the proposal, and figure out the answer to key questions that will make this marriage work:

What does the customer have, that they want to keep? It might be management processes and technologies, but it also might be relationships with certain people they admire. Be prepared to meet this need.

What does the customer have, that they want to get rid of or change? Often, the desire of the customer for a better alternative is driven by a need for fresh blood, to replace a stale or even bad relationship with an existing contractor. Maybe there are staffing issues, like having too many junior staff in key roles. Emphasize in your Plan how your approach will fix their problems and make their life easier.

What does the customer not have, that they want: The customer hears from his fellow program managers how they have a new or better way of doing things, and they want to find a contractor who can offer some type of special sauce. Learn what it is they want but do not have, and highlight it in your proposal.

What does the customer not have, and wants to continue not having (because it won’t work for them): What you have found that works really great for one customer is not necessarily the right solution for the next customer. Don’t get wedded to an approach that worked elsewhere, especially if you have reservations as to if it will work for the new customer.

Show a Sensible, “Clean” Project Communication Structure

Don’t start the “marriage” with a lot of confusion about who the customer will interface with. Make your communication structure clear and simple. And make sure that any subcontractors have to go through your PM to address issues. And conversely, make sure that your PM will handle any performance issues caused by subcontractor personnel. The Government doesn’t want a bigamous relationship, i.e., being married to two contractors (Prime and Major Sub) on the same work.

If you embed solutions to all the relationship-related issues that matter most to the new customer in your Management Volume, your approaches are likely to resonate and cause the customer to nod their head: Yes, this bidder “gets” us. We need their talents here at our operation. That’s how you win.


    Name Paul Cohen

    Before developing the management plan, consider stepping back and ask up front, does my management strategy support the technical delivery strategy? Is my management strategy consistent with my people strategy? Can my management strategy be proven to work in past performance citations? Then ask, is my management strategy consistent with my cost strategy? Until you have consistent strategies, it’s awfully hard to have a winning management plan.

    Name - Russell Smith, President

    Paul, Thanks for your comments. How right you are. Other comments
    are invited from anyone else who cares to add to the discussion.