The Power of the Proposal
Preparing Winning Tender Packages
Are you preparing a specialized plan or
proposal to secure a major contract?
INCOMPAS is here to help with our
proposal preparation plan to assist you through the process and with important information
executive summary section.
busy to prepare an effective proposal? Do you require someone to
assist you with this important task?
Contact INCOMPAS today. We can help.
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The opportunity of
a lifetime has found its way to your organization in the form of a
Request for Proposal (RFP). You share the RFP document with the
members of your management team, and you begin planning your response
strategy. Thatís when you begin to realize the work that lies ahead.
excitement that an RFP generates is often quickly tempered by the
dawning realization of the immense amount of toil that goes into
competing for Ė and winning Ė that coveted government or
private-sector contract. As always, itís when the stakes are highest
that everyone on your team must shine their brightest and produce
their best work.
You can help by
breaking down the proposal into manageable parts, by assigning
specific sections to the appropriate individuals on your team, by
establishing a series of realistic deadlines that allow for producing
a polished looking proposal, and by ensuring that the finished
proposal contains both a strong call to action and all the required
information specified in the RFP.
INCOMPAS can assist
you in all phases of this process, or you can call us in at the very
end, to assist you in the editing and final presentation of your
proposal. To get you started, weíve developed a point-by-point plan to
assist you in preparing a winning proposal.
Proposal Preparation Plan
Read the RFP carefully, all the way through, at least three times, so
that everyone in your organization has a thorough grasp of all
requirements and expectations. The information that is crucial to your
proposal will likely be scattered throughout the RFP.
Recognize and understand the proposal for what it is:
a plan that identifies a need or problem, followed by effective
strategies that meet the need or solve the problem, a list of
anticipated costs and an explanation of how the strategiesí progress
and resulting benefits will be measured. Your proposal must contain a
strong call to action, and it must be organized and concise, including
all required information.
Focus on the proposal evaluation criteria
and the subsequent weight given to each proposal section. It is here
that you will learn where to focus your efforts during the preparation
of your proposal.
Develop a proposal schedule by working backwards from the due date,
and stick to it. Establish separate due dates for financial
information, allowing sufficient time to acquire more information and
refine existing information. Hold regular meetings with your proposal
teams to discuss strategies, progress and any roadblocks that are
encountered along the way. Make sure you factor in plenty of time for
copying, binding and delivery of your proposal. Set aside additional
time for distributing your proposal to your entire team, and make sure
there is a qualified person on hand to proof-read the final document
before it leaves your organization.
Delegate and inform. In each section of the RFP, specify the
individual who will be preparing the information for that section, and
provide them with a guideline word or page count as well as a bulleted
list of the points to be covered in that section. Post important
instructions, so that your team has easy access to information such as
the proposal due date, the number of required copies, delivery
instructions, etc. Donít complicate your teamís job by making them
hunt for this information.
Create an RFP binder to assist your team in quickly and easily
accessing the information that applies to them, with all the sections
clearly divided. Highlight the most important sections of the RFP and
flag them with post-it notes.
Ask questions well in advance. If anyone on your team has any
questions about the RFP, make sure that you ask them well in advance
of the query deadline. And because agency replies are typically
distributed to all proponents, itís important to carefully phrase your
questions, so that you do not give away any information on strategy or
pricing to your competition.
Create a budget checklist to ensure that you have accounted for all
proposed revenues, expenses and additional costs.
Allow plenty of time to gather all the financial information you
will require. Make sure you understand the financial nature of the RFP
Ė fixed fee, cost-plus, etc. and price your proposal accordingly.
Follow the RFP outline and structure exactly
when preparing your proposal. The contracting agency will be comparing
your ďapplesĒ to those of your competition; you donít want them
hunting for information because you chose to follow a different
Follow all proposal preparation instructions exactly.
If you take one step out of line your proposal could be eliminated
before itís even read or considered.
Follow the conventions and structure specified exactly
in the RFP. Donít assume that the contracting agency has any prior
knowledge of your organizationís staff, capabilities and work
experience. Their job is to review, compare and contrast only that
information which is contained in each proposal.
Fully describe the value and benefits
of your organizationís products and services, not just the features.
These benefits may seem completely obvious to you, but they may not be
quite so obvious to the decision makers. If you can clearly and
directly describe the benefits to your contracting agency, and
convince these decision makers that your proposal contains the biggest
and most important benefits, you will automatically set yourself above
Clearly answer the who, what, when, where and why
details specified in the RFP.
Use tables, charts and other graphic elements
to display information and break up large chunks of text. This will
make your proposal easier to read, digest and evaluate.
Accurately document and list any assumptions
you make when presenting your budget. Triple-check that all numbers
add up. Print out a hard copy of your budget to assist in spotting
errors. When displaying numbers, make sure you use a font that is
large enough and easy to read.
Proofread for consistency
throughout your proposal in terms of
spelling, punctuation, section headings, etc. Ensure that each copy of
your proposal contains all pages in the correct order.
Complete and sign all associated forms
that must accompany your bid. Read the submission instructions over
one last time to ensure that you have included everything and followed
The Executive Summary is the most important section of your proposal
The Executive Summary is the first (and
sometimes the only) section that will be read by RFP decision makers.
While the Executive Summary appears first in most proposals, it should
be the last section that you write, as it must capture your proposalís
highlights, and it must underscore the strength and competence of your