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Using Best Practices to Build Your Production Battle Plan-APMP 2011-Briana Coleman 6-1-11
 

Using Best Practices to Build Your Production Battle Plan-APMP 2011-Briana Coleman 6-1-11

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Contractors fight many battles during the war to win business with the Government, from capture management and solutioning to finding key personnel. You can win all of these battles but still lose the ...

Contractors fight many battles during the war to win business with the Government, from capture management and solutioning to finding key personnel. You can win all of these battles but still lose the war if you do not succeed on the final task—producing and delivering the bid! This session provides sound guidance for developing your own production battle plan. We’ll take you through the BD life cycle and discuss how to incorporate production into each phase. Using war stories from the industry’s leading editors, desktop publishers, graphic artists, and printing companies, we’ll discuss best practices. Specifically, we will define production elements (it’s more than just hitting print), discuss how to budget (time and money) for production and when to start, identify key skills of the best production staffs, and begin contingency planning. You will leave with a comprehensive production checklist to help you develop your own winning production battle plan for your next bid.

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  • Introduction (Applies to slides 2- XX)I want you to think about how you got here today? I’m not talking about the career ladder that you climbed to get here…I mean, physically, how did you get here? Most of you probably hopped on a plane, or train…You rented a car… [Jaguar] Well, maybe this car [Hampster/Box]. And you drove to the hotel without a second thought. That’s the simple version of the story. In Reality, the plane, the train, the car companies spent hundreds of hours using thousands of people to assemble your final transportation vessel. This is what we call production.Each end product started with a team of technical minds, Let’s say 50 or so, Who conceptualized, designed, and engineered it. Then they turned the plan over to the thousands who work on the production process. A production process using the assembly line, pioneered in 1908 by this guy [Henry Ford]. A production process that is still used today as a matter of best practice to ensure consistent, perfect products every time. A process that requires thousands of workers to produce a car, a plane, a thing…anything.From the industrial revolution to today , companies have emphasized the production process because they know that even the greatest idea is no good if they fail to bring that product to market in an attractive package that consumers want to buy.In proposal-land,our final books and CDs are the product of our labor. They are what the evaluators see and judge us on. But do we adopt the production best practices from every other industry? Let’s see…A typical proposal looks something like this…We spend months thinking about our solution. We pull every bright mind, and sometimes not so bright mind, we know to help us think… These huge teams critique us at blue team… pink team…Red team… Gold Team… Gold Team 2… “For Real this time final gold team”. They tweak and tweak and tweak each word until it signs a perfect melody from the page. But by now, we are 24 hours from due date. The development team breathes a huge sigh of relief for a job well done… And tosses the proposal over the cubicle wall to PRODUCTION. This mysterious land of wonder that routinely makes magic happen, despite the 24 hours they have toEdit, desktop publish, check for compliance, print, assemble, and deliver a winning productAll with one or two people, because after all, the rest of the team is on to another proposal. Hmmm…Sounds like the exact opposite of the best practices used to produce every other product we touch!Today, we’re going to discuss the importance of production in the proposal lifecycle…And I’m going to share some of my war stories to illustrate this point—EVEN THE BEST PROPOSAL IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS EXECUTION.
  • Contractors fight many battles during the war to win business with the Government, from capture management to solutioning, to finding key personnel. You can win all of these battles but still lose the war if you do not succeed on the final task—producing and delivering the bid! Today we’re going to discuss how to develop your own production battle plan.
  • First, we'll take you through the BD Lifecycle and discuss how production should be incorporated into each phase. Then we’ll dive deeper into each phase of the lifecycle to discuss the best practices of each production element…and I will share battle stories along the way. At the end of the presentation, I will distribute a production checklist that you can take back to your companies and use to implement some of my tips and to fully think through your own production battle plan.
  • Many people in our industry think of production simply as printing and assembling our proposals. But production also includes all of the steps that lead up to our ability to hit print. These include desktop publishing, graphic design, and editing--- all necessary before you print and assemble your books, and most important, deliver your winning proposal!These activities are typically thought of as tasks we accomplish in the last few days before delivery; but today, I want to impress upon you that production activities should be incorporated throughout your business development lifecycle. Today, I am going to set the stage for you to develop your company’s proposal production battle plans--- a detailed instruction manual containing best practices for each of the five production elements.
  • To understand how to incorporate production into your entire proposal lifecycle, let’s first take a look at the five stages of the BD lifecycle. Business Development owns responsibility for lead generation and initial opportunity ID/qualification. They bring that back to Capture team to convince company they should invest in pursuit. When a company makes a decision to invest in pursuing a program, in becomes part of the Capture phase. The Capture team OWNS the pursuit all the way to closeout. The Proposal Manager SUPPORTS the capture activity and ultimately report up to the CM.
  • While we are all familiar with how proposal management fits into the overall BD lifecycle, today we’re going to focus on how production fits into the lifecycle.In phases 1 and 2, or really before you have a major proposal on your plate--- we want to take the time to really develop, refine, and practice our production war plan. The production war plan encompasses all of your company’s best practices and production decisions, across all proposals.Phases 3-5 include developing proposal-specific production battle plans. These plans take the best practices documented in your company’s production war plan, and tailor them to meet the RFP requirements and your client’s individual needs.
  • So, let’s discuss production in the first two phases of the BD lifecycle--- remember, these are the activities you should be performing BEFORE you ever have a real proposal on your plate.
  • There are two main activities that should be accomplished in this phase:Document your production war plan. Develop company templates
  • Your production war plan is not something to be written in an afternoon and put on a shelf. It requires numerous trade off assessments, decisions, and training of staff when it is complete.The goal of the production plan is to ensure that you have thought through all elements of production---desktop publishing, editing, graphic, printing, and delivery--- and determined how your company will accomplish each. As you make decisions, always keep in mind this goal: eliminate single points of failure!! This means that you should have a back up plan for every step in your production. Don’t rely on a single desktop publisher to do all proposals; or a single printer… always ask yourself, “what could go wrong with this plan” and then develop a contingency for that potential point of failure.So what goes into your production war plan?Who will perform?– identify all of the positions that will have a hand in your proposal production, and ensure that you have multiple resources identified for each. Remember, even if you have a primary desktop publisher/graphic artist, etc… develop relationships with secondary resources that you can call on when you’re in a jam. People get sick, hurt, or quit--- so don’t rely on one person! We’ll discuss staffing in more detail in a little bit.Software decisions: how will DP be done? MS Word or Adobe or something else? What about graphics? What version of software---does everyone need to have the latest version or will only the production team? How will this affect your document sharing procedures? Consider the pros and cons of each software platform, the users and skills you have at your disposal, and your budget. Make a decision, and then ensure that your assigned resources are experts in these software---or train them until they are!Version control and archiving: are you going to use a software like SharePoint? Or are you going to use email and network folders? Develop guidelines for sharing documents, updating documents, and maintaining version control. Consider who will be ultimately responsible for maintaining a master file--- is it your DP or your PM? How will you ensure you incorporate changes from multiple sources without compromising version control? How will you archive old versions and name final versions? Who will be responsible for this?Printing and assembly: this is a HUGE decision. It includes how you will print (internal vs. external, what type of printers), paper you will use, printer settings, how you will do tabs, how you will print covers and spines, will you print full bleed or not, labels for boxes, CD labels and how they’ll be printed, etc. we’ll talk about this more in a bitStyle guides: should document your editing preferences… what standards will you follow, what are your punctuation preferences, spelling guides, etc.Templates and corporate branding: we’ll discuss this in greater detail in a bit
  • These roles are not mutually exclusive. Many graphic artists can also desktop publish, many proposal managers serve as the production manager, etc. Determine how many people you need based on the size, complexity, and turn around time of your proposals…. For a 2-week task order response, don’t expect your proposal manager to have the time to do everything; for longer responses, you may be able to double dip on duties.
  • Inside/Outside: Be honest with yourself… do you really have the internal skills, machines, and supplies to fully support your production? An average office inkjet printer is not going to give you the quality or professionalism of a professional printer; it will also take MUCH longer to produce your proposal. When we decide to print in-house, it is often because we’ve never truly done a cost benefit analysis of outside printers. Budget: think about the hourly rate of your employees and consultants…remember to commoditize your salaried employees (is there something better use of their time?). outsource the things you don’t do well…If you do decide to print in-house, ensure that your capabilities include contingency plans. Are you relying on a single printer? Are all of your printers in the same building on the same electrical system (what if lightening hits)? Do you have a full stock of all binder sizes, and tabs? If internal printing is your preference, still consider establishing a relationship with an outside printer who can take over if something catastrophic happens. Story: a friend of mine who is a professional proposal printer once told me this story. He was scheduled to print 30 books on a Saturday afternoon. The proposal manager told him there would be 800 pages and 10 tabs per book, so they developed all of their spines and covers to fit 2” binders. What the proposal manager failed to account for were the appendices--- the books sky rocketed to 1600 pages and 20 tabs, needing 5” binders! Luckily, the printer had a ready supply of 5” binders, as well as sophisticated capabilities to re-size the spines and covers without having to call the graphic artist--- who not likely to answer her phone at 12am on a Saturday!PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE (and then document your results): Helene’s story--- Our office manager had ordered a different type of paper we usually got because it was less expensive.  When it went through the printer and was stacked in the volumes (about 3”-4” thick) the reams looked purple – not an acceptable color for our military client (even with the lame argument that purple is the “Joint” color). What are your metrics… how long does it really take to print on your printer? What turn around time does your outside printer require? What paper type looks best in your machine?Test for color--- what looks good on your screen may not look the same when you print it. If you do electronic and hard copy proposals, find a happy medium. PDF is the greatest way to see if color or print will be correct. Check your print settings and you can adjust your PDF color matching settings. Also, many printers know how to adjust this accordingly.
  • Design, develop, and agree to your company templates. These templates will of course change with each proposal, but hopefully it will be a matter of tweaking and not developing from scratch.When you develop templates, consider how you could tailor each to be client specific--- perhaps creating placeholders for graphics or images that could be swapped in and out for each cover; or a placeholder for a logo in the header or footer.
  • Once you receive your final RFP, you can begin actually implementing your production battle plan. Here we show a typical 30-day schedule, to give you a sense of when you should begin each element of production. You’ll note that final production begins on DAY 1! By Day 2, you should be able to refine your templates to match the format/delivery requirements of your RFP. Note that I am saying refine, and not develop, because you will have already taken care of baseline templates in your pre-proposal phase. Here, you’ll update fonts, sizes, and develop shells. Shells are word documents, containing all of your paragraph styles/headers/footers, that have the actual headings and RFP instructions embedded in the document. Develop shells that you can distribute to authors--- so instead of guessing how to interpret your proposal outline, they’ll actually see what you want them to write and where.Use the first week to design your cover as well. Your production war plan may dictate a standard cover that you will use; however, even standard covers should be able to be tailored to each client. Use this first week to design or tweak the cover--- and have it ready for review at Pink Team. Once you get approval at pink team, you can design or refine your spines, title pages, headers, footers, and CD labels to coordinate with the main cover.Also in the first week, after you’ve assigned sections to authors at kick-off, is graphic conceptualization. Stop spending money on rendering graphics until they are fully conceptualized and blessed! Spend time up front actually conceptualizing the graphics and vetting it in pink team. Only after it is vetted and authors have received content suggestions in pink team should you take the time to render your graphics.By the beginning of week two, schedule your printer and production facility. If it is an outside printer, ensure that they are available on your selected printing days–and get yourself on their calendars early. This will ensure you are a priority for them when the job comes around. If you are printing in-house, ensure that the company as a whole knows when you intend to print. This is particularly important for larger corporations with multiple proposal teams, who may be fighting for valuable resources simultaneously… here’s a story… A colleague of mine was working late one night on a proposal and heard noise in the admin area outside her office. Given the hour, she was concerned about what someone was doing … and when she walked out, the “someone” was a colleague from another floor stealing her color print cartridges.  His team had a prop due in the morning (as did she), so he was stealing cartridges from similar printers so he could finish.  She put an end to the theft – but learned to always schedule her printing days with the entire company and ALWAYS have extra supplies on hand for those weekend and evening prints.By week 3, you can begin desktop publishing your proposal. I always save a full day before Red Team to rough desktop publish the books and produce the books in hard copy. It can be distracting to desktop publish for pink team– you want people to worry about content in Pink Team. But by red team, you need to ensure that you are in page count, the design doesn’t offend any body on the review panel, and the direction is the right one. Post red team, you are really only giving your authors a couple of days to fix whatever needs changed prior to gold. Post red team is not the time to completely re-write your proposal. Instead, have the authors work with the graphic artists to finalize the graphics, get their content in page count, and ensure compliance. Now comes the controversial part of the schedule--- the part that usually is left to the last 24 hours before a proposal is due, if it’s done at all. That’s the final editing and desktop publishing. Assuming you have a different person doing editing and DP, start with editing. Give your editor a full 1.5 days to edit the entire proposal--- all volumes, the covers, the footers, everything. You may have to allow for even more time, depending on the size of the proposal. After the editor is done, complete a final desktop publishing. Here is where you make every page sing and the content pop. Ideally, the editor and DP should work closely together--- because you may find yourself slightly over page count after the DP. A good DP has tricks to get extra lines on a page, while a good editor can recommend words to cut if the page limits aren’t perfect at the end. You’ll notice that after gold team, we are leaving two days for printing and assembly. We are also overnight mailing the proposal TWO days before it’s due… government offices often have very lengthy processes for receiving packages, and proposals have been known to get stuck in the mail room for a day…. We’ll talk all about delivery in a few minutes.
  • When you put your actual proposal schedule together, keep in mind these facts about how long a production element takes and how much it will cost if you use outside help.
  • Start early--- desktop publishing is not a race at the end. Think about the risks for page limits! As a desktop publisher, I’ve received documents 24 hours before they are due, with the instructions to “work my magic and cut five pages…” Don’t put that kind of pressure on your DP. Instead, if they had DP and edited before Red Team, they would have known where they stood in terms of page count and could have adjusted.Section Shells: If you can’t afford to have someone there 8 hours a day desktop publishing, give the writers section shells and give them an overview of using the templates and shells at kick-off. At least you will ensure that everyone is using the proper font/size, so their assessments of page limitations will be close.Auto-generated TOC and Glossaries: most of the software we would use for desktop publishing--- word, InDesign, etc.--- are capable of automatically generating table of contents. I can’t tell you how many companies I see still manually developing these. Ensure that the desktop publisher you use knows how to use these functions and have them teach you too! The same goes for glossaries– there are many software, many free, that will auto-develop glossaries for your proposals.Remember your tabs: if you plan to have a tab between sections, or sections have specific page counts, instruct your desktop publisher to place hard breaks between sections. Don’t allow sections to stop and start on the same page or your tabs won’t work.Electronic delivery in Word-- an emerging trend I’ve seen lately is the government requiring electronic copies--- rather email or CD--- to be formatted in Word/MS Office. This can be a nightmare… ensure your desktop publisher understands this requirement, so they can format accordingly. A couple of tips that I’ve seen include:-- When the requirement is to submit MS Word 2003 documents, don’t just save down to .doc at the end… develop in the format you are delivering in (because not everything converts from 07 to 03!). Example: columns can shrink in conversion--- which affects every page-- in 2003… don’t use automatic colors; they will change from document to document-- Use uniquely named style names** If you open up something in one version of word and it’s corrupted, try using a different version of word.
  • Developing graphics as the exact size you need--- this prevents resizing the graphic in the documeyt and thus risking that the font is too small (e.g. non-compliant). STORY: I assumed my graphic artist knew this; we went through a conceptualization, got approval at red team, and sent him off to render them. He delivered the final graphics to me in time for gold team… except they were all developed at 500% the size they would be in the document. I had to have him completely redo EVERY graphic in 2 days---costing the company an additional 16 hours of consultant fees and two days lost in our schedule. Converting graphics--- amendments change the proposal due date almost always… or solicitation changes… or you realize you need an extra copy… etc. Have the flexibility to change the words without having to contact the graphic artist. File format: see handout for information on file types. We used to say use .tiff files because it prints the best (best quality)--- however, the file size is really large; For proposals, stick to either .JPEG or .PNG files. 150dpi .png files are smallest with the best quality---HOWEVER, png don’t always print on printers (they have alpha channels, which gives the graphic the ability to be transparent… sometimes, printers can’t handle it or it confuses the printer). So it’s very important to practice printing PNG files on your ACTUAL printer if you are going to use! Preference is .jpeg (most sturdy and safe for printing), and for the average evaluator, the quality is more than adequate… Story: I used png files for all of my graphics in a proposal. I printed all of my review team documents on an in-house printer, and the document looked fine. For the final print, we outsourced the printing to a subcontractor who had a very large production facility--- we never practiced printing with them until we were printing the actual document the day before it was due. Well, their printers were unable to handle PNG files…everywhere I had a PNG file, a blank black box would print instead. I ended up having to re-format every single page with a graphic, re-print, and re-assemble every book… all with only a few hours before the last FedEx truck left for the day. More tips: If you are creating Microsoft PowerPoint graphics--- it is better to export as .jpegs then to copy/paste in word (because of stability of graphic). My favorite new PowerPoint add-in is “PPTools Image Exporter” by http://www.pptools.com/downloads.htmWarning: you can downsize the file size in MS Office, but in my experience it downgrades the quality of the image. In Acrobat, you can downsize but need to tell it to save for print and not to reduce the size of the graphics. There is a new software (http://us.neuxpower.com/)that takes PDF and reduces filesizes significantly without reducing quality of images!
  • Your editor should understand the standard style guide you developed as a company standard, and use that style guide in editing your proposal. Beside examining grammar, one-voicing, and style, editors can be very useful in helping authors tighten up sentences and get sections within page count. I once cut FIVE pages from a document simply by using these tricks:Eliminate widows and orphans… maximize each line of text, and don’t leave paragraphs with one or two words dangling at the end. Every line you can eliminate adds up to pages of text saved. Eliminate these by cutting a few words in a paragraph that aren’t necessary--- long adjectives and passive voice are a good place to start.Spacing between sentences… most of us in this room were taught in grammar school that the proper way to type is with two spaces between sentences. I’m here to tell you, this is WRONG. We typed two spaces between sentences when we used typewriters… because all letters on a typewriter are the exact same width, we had to use two spaces. But the invention of word processing software, like MS Word, has fixed this problem for us... Word automatically places the proper spacing between sentences when we type a period and a single space. But typing two spaces, not only are we adding more space then the naked eye requires to distinguish between sentences, but we are also adding to our page count… We have a tendency to state our company or team name over and over and over again in a proposal… while it is important to say our name here and there to reinforce branding, we can replace the vast majority of those references with proper pronouns--- we, our, us, etc. Consider “the Lohfeld Team” vs. we… 16 characters vs 2. Strive for a 80:20 ratio (80% pronouns, 20% actual company/team name).Redacted proposals: this is an emerging trend I’ve seen lately, especially with DoD and DOL proposals. They require that no company-identifying information is included in the proposal, except for a single “original” copy. My advice is to WRITE the proposal as though it were redacted (never say your company’s name)--- THEN, as a last step, add your company information back into the document for the original copy. When you write this way, you’ll 1) reduce the risk of accidentally forgetting to remove your name and 2) ensure that sentences still make sense. The first redacted proposal I wrote, I didn’t yield this advice. We spent HOURS examining the document at the end to ensure we had taken out every instance of our name, and discovered that many sentences no longer made sense… for example, we had once sentence that said “[Redacted] reports to [Redacted], who is an employee of [Redacted].” had we written it from the redacted point of view first, it would have read “The Team Lead reports to the Program Manager, who is an employee of the prime contractor.”
  • Know when to let go: there is a law of diminishing returns. At some point, every tweak you make to the proposal’s content will eat into your ability to print and assemble the documents on time. Each of those last minute tweaks only introduces the potential for errors, without increasing your chances of winning--- do you think an evaluator is really more likely to buy because you said “happy” instead of “glad?” Story: I was brought in to desktop publish a proposal that included four volumes, ten copies of each volume, with CDs for each volume. Unfortunately, the proposal manager was extremely nervous– afraid that he would make a mistake that would lose the proposal. The proposal was due on a Monday, and we were scheduled to print on a Thursday and overnight on Friday. However, he was so afraid to stop tweaking the document, that we ended up not printing until Saturday. Our printer broke, and we had to use Kinkos. Once we sent the files to Kinkos for print, we began burning the CDs with the final documents. However, as volumes were finished printing and we brought the boxes back to the office-- - the proposal manager was taking binders out of the sealed, addressed boxes, and RE-READING every page. He determined on 10 different pages that changes were required and pages had to be re- printed--- changes as minor as updating the number 1.0 to 1. With every change, lines of text wrapped onto the next page, and subsequent pages had to be re-printed as well… we re-printed the TOC 10 times, and had to re-burn the CDs 10 times as well. LESSON: Know when to let go… there is a law of diminishing returns!!!Don’t forget the details: what box are you using? Did you type up your box labels on all five sides? What packing material are you using. We are a physical world and a visual world; what are we communicating to our client from the moment they find the box to closing the book. Recommended standards: 28lb opaque paper (thick enough not to bleed through to the back of a page, but still gives sharp color); for binders, use Avery Extra heavy duty binders--- they will not fall apart in mailing, like cheaper binders will; for binders >4”, use binder straps to ensure they don’t get damaged in shippingAssume everything that can go wrong, will go wrong: Fires, floods and bomb scares have interrupted printing operations in addition to running out of toner, not cleaning the printer before printing, not having a backup machines and the stories go on and on.  Print a complete back-up set: in the best case scenario, it will serve as your in-house copy; in the worst case, it will serve as your contingency plan.Make security a priority: example theft story:I had someone steal a proposal volume out of the print room as the books were being assembled.  To find it, I closed the 15 story office building and had a team search desk, hallways, etc.  They found the book stashed in a desk drawer in an unused office.  UP to that point, I trusted all my employees.Production Checklist: Before you begin desktop publishing for the first time, develop a comprehensive production checklist. This checklist will serve to guide your DP on your vision of the final product, as well as guide you on production day to ensure you’ve done everything you need to. The production checklist is like a compliance matrix for your production day--- it is easy to forget in the moment that the CEO must sign the SF1449, or that the labels on the box must show the solicitation number. Using a comprehensive checklist, customized for every job, you’re ensured to meet all requirements. I typically begin forming my checklist on Day 1--- as I read the RFP, I keep a running document of any requirement I come across that would affect production. I’ve enclosed in the books/handouts a detailed production checklist for every possible item you would have to do for a proposal--- you can use that as a starting point for your next proposal.Print/Assembly Instructions: I’ve also included a sample instruction template. Whether you are printing in-house or outsourcing this, you want to ensure that the printer fully understands your vision for the end product. Be specific about how you want the document printed and assembled…
  • Plan on delivering EARLY: Bob’s helicopter story--- The goal was to deliver a proposal from San Diego to Pasadena. Everything that could have gone wrong, did--- including not budgeting enough time to print. There was not enough time to drive the proposal to the destination, so the company chartered a private helicopter to take the 2 hour flight. As the helicopter approached the Pasadena area, the pilot turned around and asked, “so where do you want me to land?” When we told him the airport, he laughed and informed us that you can’t just get clearance to land at an airport--- that we had no chance of landing anywhere near our destination. With no choice left, we pushed the box of proposals off the helicopter at 300 Ft. A few seconds later, we heard a large boom as the box—and the proposals within it--- disintegrated upon impact. Our beautiful proposals was in millions of pieces, floating along the Pasadena tarmac. That proposal did not get delivered.Always have a contingency plan: Delivering the car storyBe prepared to change your contingency plan: Beth’s kinkos story… during Washington, DC’s “snowpocalypse” of 2010, the gov’t and all planes shut down for a week---our proposal was on a FedEx plane, grounded at Dulles with no chance of making it to Kansas City in time. I called a localKinkos (the closest one to the delivery site). I spent ALL DAY on the phone with the guy in Kansas City to walk him through the entire production over the phone, binding, delivery in his personal car, faxing me the receipt from the customer. I was the only person who delivered on time.Stay Flexible: Brooke’s story…We had a prop due on Sept 12, 2001 on the base at Quantico.  The base shut down at about 0930 on Sept 11.  We had to have the duty officer contact the CO to see if the prop was extended or not.  Since she didn’t want to extend, there was an issue of how to deliver to a base that was shut down.  The CO was not too helpful, so WE suggested an e-mail delivery of the tech volume with the cost summary of the cost volume (no cost build up in case the email went astray). Hard copies of the full submission would be delivered at a later date).  Weeks went by while we waited to hear about delivery.  Finally, we got a call to show up NLT 1300 at the Burger King outside the back gate.  There was a government vehicle with the trunk open – you handed off your box and got a receipt.  It looked like a very strange drug deal going on. I think with all the delivery lessons, the point is “stay flexible” and be ready to provide a suggestion – not all COs are very experienced or creative.Don’t send your intern: Bob’s office manager story. Hand deliveries: practice your driving route: Briana’s CDC/Atlanta story

Using Best Practices to Build Your Production Battle Plan-APMP 2011-Briana Coleman 6-1-11 Using Best Practices to Build Your Production Battle Plan-APMP 2011-Briana Coleman 6-1-11 Presentation Transcript

  • Using Best Practices to Build Your Production Battle Plan
    @Lohfeld
    Briana Coleman, APM.APMPLohfeld Consulting GroupJune XX, 2011
  • PRODUCTION
  • 1908
  • PROCESS
  • BEST PRACTICE
  • PRODUCTION PROCESS
  • PROPOSAL
    PROPOSAL
  • BEST PRACTICES
  • PROPOSAL
    PROPOSAL
  • TWEAK
    TWEAK
    TWEAK
  • TEAM
  • PRODUCTION
  • EDIT
    ASSEMBLE
    COMPLIANCE
    PRINT
    DESKTOP PUBLISH
  • PRODUCTION
  • even the best proposal is only as good as itsEXECUTION
  • Overall Message
    Production is as important as any other part of the proposal process
    Production is much more than just hitting “print”
    Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong
    Produce and deliver early!
    58
  • Agenda
    59
    Opportunity ID and assessment
    Pursuit
    Pre-proposal preparation
    Proposal development
    Post-submittal
    Production Across the BD Lifecycle
    Production in Phases 1–2
    Production in Phases 3–5
    3
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    1
    4
    2
    5
  • 60
    Production Across the BD Lifecycle
    4
    1
    2
    3
    5
  • Defining Production
    It’s more than just hitting print!
    Production includes:
    61
    • Desktop Publishing (Formatting)
    • Graphic Design
    • Editing
    • Printing/Assembly
    • Delivery
  • The Business Development (BD) Lifecycle
    62
    Capture phase
    BD Phase
    Proposal phase
    2
    5
    1
    3
    4
    • Identify opportunity
    • Meet with customer
    • Qualify opportunity
    • Start capture plan
    • Prepare opportunity assessment package and conduct review
    • Organize capture team
    • Understand customer requirements and objectives
    • Develop preliminary solution
    • Position solution with customer
    • Assess competition
    • Develop win strategy
    • Build/execute teaming strategy
    • Establish price to win
    • Assess risk
    • Conduct pursuit progress and preliminary bid decisiongate reviews
    • Assign proposal resources
    • Develop strawman RFP
    • Review solution against RFP
    • Review/approve storyboards
    • Identify and develop early-stage proposal products
    • Draft oral presentation
    • Finalize proposal development plan
    • Plan kickoff meeting
    • Conduct pre-proposal gate review
    • Confirm bid decision
    • Finalize and validate proposal outline, design, and resources
    • Conduct kickoff meeting
    • Finalize solution
    • Finalize storyboards and conduct Blue Team
    • Begin writing proposal
    • Review/approve price proposal approach
    • Conduct Pink/Red reviews and edit
    • Conduct Gold review
    • Produce and quality check proposal
    • Conduct proposal submission gate review
    • Conduct closure strategy
    • Clean up proposal files and archive
    • Receive award notice
    • Attend debrief
    • Assist with protests
    • Conduct lessons-learned review
    • Conduct continual improvement gate review
    • Hold win party!
    • Transition to operations
  • Production Across the BD Lifecycle
    63
    Proposal-specific production
    Production process & infrastructure
    2
    5
    1
    3
    4
    • Developing the processes and infrastructure necessary to support production across all bids in a company
    • Developing your production manual/plan
    • Hiring the right staff with the right skills
    • Designing company proposal templates, style guides, and branding
    • Budget decisions
    • RFP-specific templates, color palettes, and style guides
    • Draft graphics
    • RFP-specific production plan: who, what, where, when, how
    • Graphic Design
    • Desktop Publishing
    • Editing
    • Printing/Assembly
    • Delivery
    • Archival
    • Lessons Learned
    • Shredding!
  • 64
    Opportunity ID and assessment
    Pursuit
    Production in Phases 1–2
    1
    2
  • Production Processes & Infrastructure
    Document your production plan
    Elements of the production plan
    Identify necessary staff and staff skills
    Printing decisions
    Develop company templates
    Document styles
    Covers, title pages, headers, footers
    Editing style guides
    65
    1
    2
  • Production [War] Plans
    Document company production policies:
    Who will perform desktop publishing, graphics, editing, printing/assembly?
    How will desktop publishing be done—MS Word, Adobe InDesign, etc?
    Version control and archiving processes
    How will printing and assembly be accomplished?
    Style guides
    Templates and corporate branding standards
    66
    1
    Determining how production should be done in general (across all proposals)
  • Production [War] Plans, cont’d
    Staffing decisions
    Inside vs. outside help: consider—
    Volume of proposals
    Complexity of proposals
    Level of current staff’s skills
    Subject matter expertise
    Budget
    Who do you need?
    Proposal Manager (production knowledge helpful)
    Editor
    Desktop Publisher
    Graphic Artist
    Printer/Production Manager
    67
    1
    Determining how production should be done in general (across all proposals)
  • Production [War] Plans, cont’d
    Printing decisions
    Inside vs. outside help: consider—
    Volume of proposals
    Complexity of proposals
    Level of current staff’s skills
    Budget
    Inside printing: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!
    Outside printing: establish agreements and then…PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!
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    1
    Determining how production should be done in general (across all proposals)
  • Developing Company Templates
    Paragraph styles/headings
    Headers and footers
    Title pages
    Covers/spines
    Tables/charts
    69
    2
  • 70
    Pre-proposal preparation
    Proposal development
    Post-submittal
    Production in Phases 3–5
    3
    4
    5
  • Phase 3: Pre-proposal Preparation
    Begin drafting your production [battle] plan: proposal-specific
    Revise templates to meet [anticipated] RFP requirements: fonts, size, colors, etc.
    Begin drafting graphics
    Revise style guides to meet client-specific naming conventions/acronyms
    71
    Pre-proposalPreparation
    3
  • Phase 4: Proposal Preparation
    72
    Proposal Preparation
    4
  • Production Budgets & Timelines
    73
  • Desktop Publishing: Tips
    Start early
    74
    • Build proposal shells for each section author
    • Use paragraph styles to facilitate formatting
    • Auto-generated table of contents
    • Remember your tabs
    • Electronic delivery in MS Word vs. PDF
  • Graphic Design: Tips
    Develop graphics as the exact size you need
    75
    • Convert final covers/title pages/spines to PowerPoint/Word for easy editing/changing
    • File formats: tradeoff between file size and file quality
    • Favorite Tool:PPTools Image Exporter(www.pptools.com/downloads)
  • Editing: Tips
    Getting in page count—
    76
    • We vs. “the XYZ Company Team”
    • Widows & orphans
    • Spacing between sentences
    • Redacted proposals
  • Printing & Assembly: Tips
    Know when to let go
    77
    • Don’t forget the details
    • Assume everything that can go wrong WILL go wrong
    • Print a complete back-up set (and have it packaged and ready to go!)
    • Make security a priority
    • Detailed production checklist (see example)
    • Detailed print and assembly instructions [see example]
  • Delivery: Tips
    78
    • Plan on delivering EARLY
    • Always have a contingency plan
    • Be prepared to change your contingency plan
    • Stay flexible
    • Don’t send your intern to deliver
    • Hand-deliveries: practice your driving route
  • Phase 5: Post-submittal
    Archive and Shred!
    Lessons learned
    79
    Post-submittal
    5
  • Thank You to My Contributors!
    24 Hour Company
    Graphic Design
    www.24hrco.com
    Lohfeld Consulting Group
    Proposal/Capture Consultants
    www.lohfeldconsulting.com
    Corporate Media Solutions
    Printing/Production
    www.cmediainc.com
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  • Contact Information
    Briana Coleman, AM.APMPSenior Consultant, Lohfeld Consulting Group, Inc.
    Creating Winning Proposals for Government Contractors
    703-615-7596 (m)
    bcoleman@lohfeldconsulting.com
    www.LohfeldConsulting.com
    @Lohfeld
    facebook.com/LohfeldConsulting
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