This is Part 6 of my series on the 12 step process discussed in the book. Last time, I discussed Step 8 – Using Style Sheets. If you missed it, visit my website.

In this episode, I’m continuing the series with step 9 about developing your project plan for a smooth and on-time proposal.No matter how small or large your proposal response will be, you need a project plan with your resources, schedule and tasks identified to ensure you get to the final submission date with a finished proposal. There’s nothing worse than scrambling before the deadline to get information you need for the proposal.

Of course, the larger and more complex the proposal, the more critical your plan is and the more detailed it should be. Proposals can range from less than 25 pages to over 1,000 pages, depending on the client’s scope and requirements, as well as their approach to the RFP process. No matter what, you will benefit from a structured approach that makes sure you get to the finish line with a great proposal.

Your general plan can be developed during the pre RFP release phase I talked about In an earlier podcast, but it’s usually refined and developed around the RFP milestones such as site visits, Q&A dates and the final submission date.

The plan helps you identify the resources you need and, more importantly, the decision-making required and potential bottlenecks within your organization. It helps you clearly identify internal and external resources and when their involvement or submissions are required.

Large projects that are a considerable commitment or risk to your company may require multiple hurdles and sign-offs within your organization, including financial, legal, risk management and production or operations. Make sure you understand these hurdles, are well prepared for them, and build them into your schedule.

This part of the process is basically project management. Your success depends on careful management of resources and time lines to keep work on track and in the correct order to meet the deadlines and submit your proposal on time. Never rely on a delay or extension. Asking for an extension can send a bad signal to your potential client.

The resources you identify should be the ones who can deliver what you need. In any organization, it may be difficult to find subject matter experts who are also good at writing. It can be easier to pair up these subject matter experts with someone else who understands the business area and can write, rather than try to work with someone who is either incapable or uncomfortable with the formal task of writing – and is unlikely to meet your deadlines.

The schedule is an important part of getting it done on-time. You can manage the schedule yourself, or assign an assistant to manage it for you. Like project management, this requires a detail-oriented individual with a strong personality to ensure the work gets done on time – and someone not shy to follow-up and push the contributors to meet their deadlines.

Your proposal response plan should include the following elements at a minimum:

  1. All the resources needed to complete the proposal response (people, budget, meeting rooms, etc.)
  2. The specific tasks and assignments for everyone involved in the process, including when you need them for meetings.
  3. Time lines and due-dates for all parts of the process, including internal approvals.
  4. A process for updating and monitoring progress.
  5. Meetings and internal review dates require throughout the process, including the participants you need to be involved.
  6. Logistics, which includes records management, documentation control, etc.
  7. Who will provide control and management of the various parts of the proposal.

With these seven elements covered, you should be well positioned to develop your proposal with time to spare to deliver it.

I’ve just covered Step 9 of the 12 step process. In my next podcast, I’ll deal with two more steps – Document and Version Control and Integrating Material.

Our Book "Win More Business - Write Better Proposals". is now available at Amazon in many countries, including the USA , Canada, UK, Japan, Germany and France. You can also order it directly from the author on this website