August 2012: Proposal Architecture Workshop Saves Days of Schedule
One of the most time-consuming and costly proposal sub-processes is the development and organization of writers’ initial source materials (e.g. RFP requirements, themes, discriminators, strengths, weaknesses, etc.) post-proposal kickoff. Typically, this task is left up to the writing team, many of whom have never (or rarely) worked on a proposal before. This exercise may take several weeks of churn and rework with the entire team burning budget to even get to the first proposal product review (e.g. Section Plans, Proposal Development Worksheets, Module Specs, Annotated Mockups, Storyboards, draft prose, etc., depending on the applicable process).
The Proposal Architecture Workshop process saves hundreds of proposal budget hours and days of precious time. Its concept is simple: the core proposal team, comprising the Capture Manager, Proposal Manager, Technical Lead, Program Manager, and Volume Leads, as applicable, organize and prepare top-down the large majority of the writers’ initial source materials for them prior to proposal kickoff. This typically one day Workshop is held within a day or two of [D]RFP release, once the Proposal Manager has shredded the [D]RFP, completed the [draft] proposal outline to the lowest anticipated level, and allocated sections L and M requirements to it. An update Workshop is held following any subsequent DRFP or RFP release.
Because this core team is likely proposal experienced and also likely familiar with the overall capture strategy, it functions much more efficiently than the writing team in allocating the remainder of any RFP requirements, themes, discriminators, voice of the customer, must-haves, etc. as additional internal cross-references to the proposal outline. Moreover, any “approval” cycle of the initial proposal product is greatly streamlined because this same core team is the likely approving authority.
The output of the Proposal Architecture Workshop is the Proposal Architecture—a complete proposal outline developed to the lowest anticipated Section level, with the large majority of writers’ initial source materials cross-referenced to it. These data may then be populated into writer-friendly format (e.g. Section Plans, Proposal Development Worksheets, Mod Specs, Annotated Mockups, Storyboards, draft prose, etc., depending on the applicable process), using less-expensive administrative support or proposal development automation software such as Proposal Navigator®, instead of more expensive writer/engineering hours. This populated format is then given to writers at proposal kickoff instead of the typical blank template, which provides them a substantial head-start in the right direction on their planning and/or writing task.