Developing A Winning Proposal


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Developing A Winning Proposal

  1. 1. Developing A Winning Proposal 9th Annual Government Procurement Conference July 8, 2005 By Laveda Page Brown
  2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>What is the proposal and how to get started planning </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing, analyzing, designing, estimating and publishing the proposal </li></ul><ul><li>Presenting your companies capabilities and making your case </li></ul><ul><li>What about a government proposal </li></ul><ul><li>Sample proposal outline and contents </li></ul><ul><li>Final Checklist </li></ul>
  3. 3. Your Company Introduction Developing your commercial <ul><li>In one minute or less tell us briefly: </li></ul><ul><li>Tell us what you do? </li></ul><ul><li>Give us one benefit statement (why?) </li></ul><ul><li>End with your Name </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is a proposal? <ul><li>A proposal is a plan of action for fulfilling a need. </li></ul><ul><li>Basically, it is a sales document that responds to the needs of someone else. </li></ul><ul><li>It is a written document describing in detail the work to be performed and provides the reader/evaluator adequate information to make an informed purchasing decision . </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why use a Proposal? <ul><li>A good RFP will help the evaluator collect critical data to streamline the evaluation process and compare only the qualified bidders. </li></ul><ul><li>The RFP outline format is design to help the evaluator quickly compare proposal. </li></ul><ul><li>Most proposal writers spend a huge amount of time writing the RFP. They expect you to read it and follow it carefully. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Getting Started <ul><li>The first thing you will need to do is to gather the documentation for the proposal’s six planning steps. </li></ul><ul><li>1. Marketing </li></ul><ul><li>2. Analyzing and making bid decision </li></ul><ul><li>3. Planning </li></ul><ul><li>4. Designing, when applicable </li></ul><ul><li>5. Estimating/Pricing </li></ul><ul><li>6. Publishing the proposal </li></ul><ul><li>The data-gathering process makes the actual writing much easier. </li></ul><ul><li>The planning stage is a good time to focus your key people on the mission of the company, available resources, and the project's overall value to the organization. </li></ul>
  7. 7. What is Marketing? <ul><li>To make a communication about a product or service a purpose of which is to encourage recipients of the communication to purchase or use the product or service. MARKETING – The techniques used to attract, build confidence and persuade potential customers. </li></ul><ul><li>What are you marketing? </li></ul><ul><li>You are marketing/selling solutions. Your proposal should illustrate how your company understands and provides the solution to the evaluators problem. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Marketing the company to the evaluator <ul><li>Marketing plays an important role in writing a proposal and building the case for the Company’s capabilities to perform the project. </li></ul><ul><li>Be proactive in marketing. When an RFP hits the street is not the time to start marketing your company, it is extremely hard to meet with the purchaser. You must establish a relationship with the purchaser before hand to learn what motivates the project. </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing experts' state it takes at least eight contacts before a potential client becomes a client and three to four follow-ups with existing clients to keep them as clients. </li></ul><ul><li>The proposer should determine if their company is truly able to do the job better than anyone else. If the answer is yes, state your case in writing. </li></ul><ul><li>Next step: develop or review the company’s vision, goals, objectives, and strategic plans. </li></ul><ul><li>A successful proposal is a win-win situation for the proposer and the purchaser. Talk about what the purchaser’s agency will gain. </li></ul><ul><li>All throughout the proposal market your company. </li></ul><ul><li>What's in it for them? Why is your company the best choice for the project? </li></ul>
  9. 9. proactive marketing takes time Make a contact and follow up <ul><li>Develop a plan of action for your 8 to 12 contacts; </li></ul><ul><li>Thank You Card or Letter </li></ul><ul><li>Confirmation Letter </li></ul><ul><li>Follow up telephone call </li></ul><ul><li>Company fact sheet or a capability statement </li></ul><ul><li>Media articles-A collection of editorial about a person, the product, or the company. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a sales pitch: Why should the agencies choose your company. Something more than price and quality. </li></ul><ul><li>PORTFOLIO – A large, bound volume containing samples of past work and used to promote business. </li></ul>
  10. 10. analyzing <ul><li>What is the key to success? “one word: customizing” if you don’t address the specific needs of the purchaser, you’re wasting your time. </li></ul><ul><li>Only through analyzing the customers basic needs can you prepare a proposal stating your company’s capability to perform the required work. </li></ul><ul><li>The purchaser may need you to convince their higher ups that the project is necessary. Present your proposal as the solution to the specific problem. </li></ul>
  11. 11. analyzing <ul><li>Public sector purchasers are accountable to the public, which affects how they scrutinize proposals. Generally, experience is more important to the selection. </li></ul><ul><li>The audience for a public proposal is not just the evaluator, but the general public. </li></ul><ul><li>When presenting your analysis always talk the language of benefit. </li></ul><ul><li>Can you respond quickly with a quality product or service? How can you demonstrate this? </li></ul><ul><li>A part of your analysis should be considering if the proposal is profitable for your company. </li></ul>
  12. 12. planning <ul><li>Army Five P’s; proper planning prevents poor performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Companies that plan, schedule meticulously and test prior to work implementation ensure that the work activities will be profitable and beneficial to all. </li></ul><ul><li>In your planning process consider yourself in a contest, focused on how you’re going to tip the scales in your favor. </li></ul><ul><li>For an evaluator that looks at proposals all day long a really good proposal is often like a breath of fresh air. </li></ul><ul><li>A poor proposal will not win against a really good proposal, no matter who wrote it. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Questions to answer <ul><li>Here are a few questions to answer when preparing the information for the proposal: </li></ul><ul><li>What is your company good at? What’s your legal status? How long have you been in business? </li></ul><ul><li>What is your company’s philosophy on this type of project? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the nature of the project and how will it be conducted? </li></ul><ul><li>How will your company respond to the timetable for the project? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the anticipated outcomes and how will the required results be evaluated? </li></ul><ul><li>Who are your references? What certifications do you have? Awards you have received? </li></ul>
  14. 14. designing <ul><li>The design part of the proposal includes such items as schedules, sketches, plant layouts, work flow diagrams, scale models, mockups, and prototypes. </li></ul>
  15. 15. estimating <ul><li>Estimating is one of the most important steps. Estimating includes forecasting (predicting) the amounts of administrative time, materials, man hours, travel and all other costs required to accomplish the job. </li></ul><ul><li>You will not know all the expenses associated with the project until the project details and timing have been completely worked out. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, the main financial data gathering takes place after the master proposal has been written. </li></ul><ul><li>However, at this stage you need to sketch the outlines of the budget as you go along to be sure that the costs are all accounted for. </li></ul>
  16. 16. publishing <ul><li>This includes the organizing, writing, editing, planning, and binding of the proposals. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow the required proposal format. Proposals that do not follow format instructions are rejected. </li></ul><ul><li>The emphasis should be neat, accurate, easy reading with easy references to assure the evaluator the company has the capabilities and experience to perform the work. </li></ul><ul><li>The appearance and adequacy of the proposal are crucial. However, excessive proposals can show a lack of cost consciousness. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Writing objectives <ul><li>Keep the writing simple.  Proposals with clear objectives and methods are generally the most successful. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid jargon. Also be sure to spell out the full names of any acronyms. </li></ul><ul><li>Have someone proofread your proposal. A fresh set of eyes can help you identify sections that are unclear and catch typographical errors. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow directions. Every year, proposals are disqualified because the writer failed to follow general format directions regarding the number of pages, appendices, fonts, spacing etc.  </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluators rank proposals lower when writers fail to follow instructions regarding what content goes in which section of the proposal. </li></ul>
  18. 18. capabilities <ul><li>Capability is defined as having the ability to perform in an efficient manner; qualified. </li></ul><ul><li>Question: How is capability evidenced in a written proposal? </li></ul><ul><li>By the qualifications of the team, life of the equipment and adequate facilities; the Company’s organization, organization for the planned project, attributes of key personnel; the Company’s resources and financial backing. </li></ul><ul><li>The need that the proposal is addressing and the qualifications of your company must be well documented and well articulated in the proposal. </li></ul><ul><li>Address the purchasers needs and demonstrate how your proposal reinforces the overall direction of the purchasing agency. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Writing a proposal for a government solicitation <ul><li>There are three situations that require you to prepare a proposal: </li></ul><ul><li>Invitation for Bid (IFB) </li></ul><ul><li>When the solicitation is an IFB, your proposal will consist of filling out the forms that you received in the bid package and sending them in. </li></ul><ul><li>This is contracting that consist of competitive bids, public openings of the bids (which you should attend), and award. </li></ul><ul><li>The government knows exactly what it wants, where, and how many, the award is based on price and other price related factors. </li></ul><ul><li>You must bid the requirements exactly as presented. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Request for proposals (RFP) <ul><li>Negotiated bid, such as a request for proposals (RFP) or request for quote (RFQ). </li></ul><ul><li>Request for Proposals (RFP) is the type of contracting commonly used when the government is not sure what is required and they are looking for your input on ways you plan to meet their objectives. </li></ul><ul><li>First and foremost, respond to an RFP in exact accordance with the requirements outlined in the RFP. </li></ul><ul><li>Requests for Quote (RFQ ) is the method often used to solicit price or market information. A quote submitted does not constitute an offer and is not the government form of a binding contract. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Responding to an RFP <ul><li>Provide all the information requested, in the order and format specified. The first indication of your professional qualifications is the ability to follow directions. </li></ul><ul><li>Restate the scope of services and specifications included in the RFP. </li></ul><ul><li>Describe how you will approach the project and state why this approach will best serve the purchasers needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Include specific references to the goals and objectives provided in the RFP. </li></ul><ul><li>Outline your cost estimates including all fixed and variable prices. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask for their business. The style and contents of the proposal must communicate your desire for the business. Do this in a well constructed cover letter. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Sample Proposal Outline When a format is not provided. <ul><li>Executive Summary : a short statement of your case and summary of the entire proposal; typically 1 to 2 pages. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement of Need : why this project is necessary; 1 to 3 pages </li></ul><ul><li>Project Description : nuts and bolts of how the project will be implemented; 2 to 5 pages </li></ul><ul><li>Bid Amount/Budget : financial description of the project plus explanatory notes; 1 to 2 pages </li></ul><ul><li>Organization Information : history and structure of the company; its primary activities, clientele, and services; 1 to 2 pages </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion : summary of the proposal's main points; one-page. </li></ul>
  23. 23. The Executive Summary <ul><li>The first page of the proposal is the most important </li></ul><ul><li>section of the entire document. Here you will provide the reader with a snapshot of what is to follow. It summarizes all of the key information and is a sales document designed to convince the reader that this proposal should be considered. Be certain to include: </li></ul><ul><li>Problem: A brief statement of the problem or need your company has recognized and is prepared to address (one or two paragraphs); </li></ul><ul><li>Solution: A short description of the project, including what will take place and the benefits, how it will operate, how long it will take, and how it will be staffed (one or two paragraphs); </li></ul><ul><li>The organization and its expertise: a brief statement of the name, history, purpose, and activities of your company, emphasizing its capacity to carry out this proposal (one paragraph). </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Statement of Need <ul><li>Write your proposal like a sales documents. </li></ul><ul><li>The statement of need will enable the evaluator to learn more about the issues and to understand the problem that the project will remedy. </li></ul><ul><li>It presents the facts and evidence that support the need for the project and establishes that your company understands the problems and therefore can reasonably address them. </li></ul><ul><li>You want the need section to be logical, yet persuasive. Like a good debater, you must assemble all the arguments. Then present them in a logical sequence that will readily convince the reader of their importance. As you marshal your arguments, consider the following points. </li></ul>
  25. 25. The Statement of Need <ul><li>Demonstrate complete understanding of the stated requirement or problem. </li></ul><ul><li>Be specific and direct, being vague only demonstrates that you do not understand the requirements and will create questions in the mind of the evaluator. </li></ul><ul><li>Be sure the data you present are accurate. There is nothing more embarrassing than to find out your information is out of date or incorrect. </li></ul><ul><li>Decide which facts or statistics best support the project and substantiate your promises with facts and details. </li></ul><ul><li>Information that does not relate to the project you are presenting will cause the reader to question the entire proposal. </li></ul>
  26. 26. The Project Description <ul><li>Objectives are the measurable outcomes of the project. </li></ul><ul><li>This section of your proposal should have four subsections: </li></ul><ul><li>Objectives, </li></ul><ul><li>Methods, </li></ul><ul><li>Staffing/administration, and </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation. </li></ul><ul><li>Together, objectives and methods will dictate your staffing and administrative requirements. </li></ul>
  27. 27. The Project Description <ul><li>Methods </li></ul><ul><li>This means that you demonstrate your ability to solve or meet the challenge. </li></ul><ul><li>The methods section describes the specific activities that will take place to achieve the objectives. It might be helpful to divide your discussion of methods into the following: </li></ul><ul><li>what, how, when, and why. </li></ul><ul><li>Your proposal should clearly communicate your ability to successfully perform the contract. </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation of successful fulfillment of other contracts will help prove your point. </li></ul>
  28. 28. The Project Description <ul><li>How : This is the detailed description of what will occur from the time the project begins until it is completed. Your methods should match the previously stated objectives. </li></ul><ul><li>When : The methods section should present the order and timing for the tasks. It might make sense to provide a timetable so that the reader does not have to map out the sequencing on their own. </li></ul><ul><li>The timetable tells the reader &quot;when&quot; and provides another summary of the project that supports the rest of the methods section. </li></ul>
  29. 29. The Project Description <ul><li>Why : You may need to defend your chosen methods, especially if they are a new approach. Why will the planned work lead to the outcomes you anticipate? </li></ul><ul><li>You can answer this question in a number of ways, including using the valuation of an expert and examples of another projects that worked. </li></ul><ul><li>The methods section helps the reader to visualize the implementation of the project. It should convince the reader that your company knows what it is doing, thereby again establishing credibility. </li></ul>
  30. 30. The Project Description Staffing/Administration <ul><li>In describing the methods, you will have mentioned staffing for the project. You now need to devote a few sentences to discussing the number of staff, their qualifications, and specific assignments. </li></ul><ul><li>Details about individual staff members involved in the project can be included either as part of this section or in the appendix, depending on the length and importance of this information </li></ul><ul><li>How will you free up the time of an already fully deployed individual? </li></ul>
  31. 31. Pricing the project <ul><li>As you prepare to assemble the pricing, go back through the proposal narrative and make a list of all personnel and contractors related to the operation of the project. </li></ul><ul><li>Be sure that you list not only new costs to complete the project but also any ongoing expenses for items that will be allocated to the project. </li></ul><ul><li>Verify or get the relevant costs from the person in your agency who is responsible for keeping the books. </li></ul><ul><li>You may need to estimate the proportions of your company’s ongoing expenses that should be charged to the project and any new costs, such as salaries for project personnel not yet hired. Put the costs you have identified next to each item on your list. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Keeping records <ul><li>Your list of pricing items and the calculations you have done to arrive at a dollar figure for each item should be summarized on worksheets. </li></ul><ul><li>You should keep these to remind yourself how the numbers were developed. </li></ul><ul><li>These worksheets can be useful as you continue to develop the proposal and discuss it with the evaluator; they are also a valuable tool for monitoring the project once it is under way and for reporting after completion. </li></ul><ul><li>Some proposals require you to provide adequate management and cost information. In this case, you need to demonstrate your ability to account for all of the costs involved in performing the contract. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Developing Your Conclusion <ul><li>Every proposal should have a concluding paragraph or two. This is a good place to call attention to the future, after the project is completed. </li></ul><ul><li>If appropriate, you should outline some of the follow-up activities that might be undertaken. </li></ul><ul><li>This section is also the place to make a final appeal for your company’s consideration. </li></ul><ul><li>Briefly summarize what your company wants to do and why it is important. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Finishing touches <ul><li>Packaging </li></ul><ul><li>Cover design </li></ul><ul><li>Cover letter </li></ul><ul><li>Spell check </li></ul><ul><li>Gather appendix materials </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare table of contents, section dividers, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Production </li></ul><ul><li>Where and by whom will the document be produced? </li></ul>
  35. 35. A checklist for government proposal writing <ul><li>Thoroughly reviewed the RFP </li></ul><ul><li>Prepared any questions concerning the RFP and submitted to the contracting officer </li></ul><ul><li>Obtained and reviewed background documentation for the project </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluated your company’s strengths and weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluated your company’s competition </li></ul><ul><li>Developed a strategy to differentiate your company </li></ul><ul><li>Prepared document in the appropriate format </li></ul><ul><li>Included commitment letters from potential employees, suppliers and funding sources </li></ul><ul><li>If appropriate, past performance references </li></ul><ul><li>Purchased a sufficient number of packaging materials? Binder rings, tabs, notebooks, etc. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Proposal delivery <ul><li>Deliver on time. </li></ul><ul><li>Label the original documents and required number of copies. </li></ul><ul><li>Seal the original and copies in a package and label appropriately. </li></ul><ul><li>If mailing, don’t forget to check delivery schedules. </li></ul><ul><li>If hand carrying, provide a signature receipt for the delivery person. </li></ul>
  37. 37. McLennan Community College Small Business Development Center Government Contract Assistance Center Laveda Brown Business Consultant/Procurement Specialist Owner of TEAMCo and Beautiful Reflection Photography [email_address] or [email_address]