And unfortunately there really is no magic lamp you can rub to make your proposal suddenly appear neatly bound on your desk.
Typically the bid manager leads the proposal preparation, review and delivery. Often this person is usually the project manager. And it’s vital that the bid manager is involved right from the beginning of the proposal process.
Once most of the clarifying questions have been completely answered the bid manager calls the proposal team together and goes through the Request for Information(RFI), or Invitation To Tender (ITT) and agrees:
- who will write answers for which which section
- who provides details of the solution
- what further materials are required and who is responsible for getting them
- the deadline for submission of all materials
- the review date for the proposal draft
Mid Size Software Consultancy Proposal
Taking as our example a medium consultancy the bid manager might expect something like the following to be produced:
- The prospective project manager – produces project plans, risk register and change control strategy
- The application development managers for each application provide software background and answers to specific questions in the RFI or ITT
- The application development managers also provide expected costs for software changes, implementation and ongoing maintenance
- The accountant provide annual accounts over 1,2 or 3 years (depending on whether they’re requested)
- Sales staff write the proposal summary with the bid manager
- Sales staff to provide marketing collateral to support the proposal
- Experts in the conversion of existing data provide details of conversion, what is covered and, crucially, what is not covered
- Planned hardware provider provides upfront and maintenance costs and availability dates for hardware
- Technical architect to provide overview of solution
- Optionally proposal team to create a presentation for delivering the solution
Small Company Proposals
Small companies still need to provide the same information that a medium sized company does. The only difference is that there’s likely to be, at most, two people getting materials together and writing the proposal.
Any smaller company that intends writing a number of proposals would be best advised to ensure that they get together material and put it in one place so that proposals can be written more easily.
Delivering The Solution
Finally, once the proposal has been written it must be reviewed. The solution must be carefully checked for feasibility and cost. In addition it’s important to ensure that the solution is “good enough.” Sometimes software can be developed that actually does much more than the client wants or needs. That is a complete waste of time and money for both parties.
Look once more at the RFI, or ITT and check what method of delivery is required. Do they ask for 3 bound copies? Maybe they want the document emailed or sent on a USB stick? What ever method make sure that you provide the proposal in that form.
And lastly, during the whole process, make sure you keep backups as you alter each part of the proposal.
Next time I’ll talk about who should deliver the proposal and when it needs to be delivered.