This is Part 7 of my series on the 12 step process from my book. Last time, I discussed Step 9 – Developing your project plan. If you missed it, visit my website.

In this episode, I’m continuing the series with step 10 and 11, document control and integrating material.

For a proposal with multiple contributors, maintaining control over documents and revisions will prevent mistakes and wasted effort during the writing, editing and review process. Even if you’re the only one involved, being organized with your files will make it easier and reduce the risk of losing information or even worst, using an old file when it’s already been updated or changed.

For your documents, use a central approach with a file numbering and naming convention. The filename structure will help you manage the information, consolidate the final proposal, and find information. Since many proposals are developed in parts that are eventually assembled together, this will save you time and effort at the end.

Your filename structure should include the following information:

Format:

Project Name – Section – Type – (Date).doc

Example:

ApexLogistics – HR 3.2 – Main Body (10.03.23).doc

Project Name: The name of the project, often the name or acronym used by the client.

Section: The section description in the RFP document. This may be numerical based on the RFP numbering, or a descriptive title such as Mandatory, Human Resources, Information Technology, Organization, Quality Assurance, etc.

Type: Indicates what the document is for. It may be the main body, attachment, illustration or picture, or even unedited source material, such as resumes that are being shortened down to half-a-page for eventual inclusion in the main body. Use a simple naming convention.

Date: The date the document was last changed. Don’t rely on the file name dates. Every time a file is edited, save it with the current date at the end of the filename. While this may result in a lot of files, it provides useful backups and enables you to go back to previous versions if necessary.

If multiple people work on the same files, have them add their initials in the filename. Part of the control process should be to ensure only one individual is working on a file at a given time.

In addition, use the tools available in Word Processors such as MS Word® to track changes. This allows you to see what changes are made, and to accept or reject changes.

Part of this process should include backing up on a regular basis and checking for viruses. Be especially cautious if contributors are working on these files at a subcontractor’s office or at home on their own computers. The amount of effort that goes into the written response can be immense, and the last thing you want to do is lose something because of a virus or computer crash.

Iteration and consolidation

Since many proposals are assembled from several documents, sometimes with multiple contributors and many sections, the documents ultimately need to be consolidated. And over time, those files may be changed and modified.

The result is that when you combine documents, you need to verify page count and do an overall review to ensure consistency, headings and the table of content. You can assign someone to look at these issues and make sure the complete document is consistent and cohesive. Sometimes it’s useful to have someone who hasn’t been involved in the process read over the documents.

You will make it much easier if you use a template for all contributions and develop the style sheet we discussed in an earlier podcast. With a template and consistent ‘styles’ applied to the formatting using your word processor’s full capabilities, this process will be much easier – as simple as cutting and pasting all the parts into a single document, or using the word processor’s merging capabilities. Otherwise, be prepared for a lot of extra effort to fix the formatting inconsistencies and other errors.

I’ve just covered Step 10 and 11 of the 12 step process. In my next podcast, I’ll deal with the final step, production and delivery.


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

Share