Proposal planning is essential to ensure that you have time to develop, write and produce a well though-out solution to the client’s requirement. Everyone who has written proposals regularly has occasionally wished that they had planned better, started earlier and various occasions stayed late trying to deal with an unsatisfactory and unfinished proposal.

Think of proposals as small projects – develop a plan. Think about all the relevant issues you must cover – how to meet their problem? How you have done similar work in the past? Who will work on the project? Do you need subcontractors or partners to help deliver the project? Who will work on the proposal? How will you present yourself to the client in order to win?

Ensure you are prioritising bid opportunities and have your best people working on the most important opportunities for your organisation. Think carefully about which contract is more important. Is it the high value opportunity that will consume all your time and resources for the next several months? or is it the smaller project that allows you to maintain other client work at the same time? Whichever is the most important prioritise your bids and ensure that each one receives the attention it deserves.

As with any project, when writing proposals, set and keep deadlines and allocate resources to complete tasks. This is taken for granted when running a client project, but is sometimes ignored on internal “sales” projects. Proposal writers and sales teams need to manage and run their projects efficiently too in order for them to succeed…and remember one sure fire way to lose the contract is not submitting your proposal on time. Don’t jeopardise several weeks work by being 30 minutes late getting the document in.

Unless you are an individual contractor you should delegate proposal tasks to qualified team members. This will allow more time to be spent on each section and that each section of the proposal is written by the most appropriate member of your team. If you have expertise available, make sure that it is available to be used in your proposals. When delegating make sure everyone knows the deadlines and commits to them. Everyone needs to know this is an important project and you are the project manager.

Always plan time for production of the documents. Make sure that everything can be produced and checked in the final form prior to submission. The last thing you need is a well-written proposal coming across poorly because it was carelessly assembled at the last minute. Make sure the printer is working, that you have enough paper and that you have time to get it delivered. Book a courier in advance.

Having a set and well-defined process can easily streamline the time required between projects and will allow for highly organized proposals that always meet quality standards. Many people underestimate the value of proper proposal planning; make sure you are not one of them.

Within the Learn to Write Proposals Bid Management Toolkit you will find great tools to help you – the Bid Capture Plan helps you define your win strategies and themes, the Bid Development Plan helps you structure you documents and plan the development of each section as well as the whole document and the Proposal Tracker helps you keep on top of the production of multiple bids.

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