To complete those thousands of details and tasks - managing team members, software applications, tools, events, documents, meetings, schedules, tasks, a vague RFP, stress, egos, medical concerns, vacations and holidays, processes, and deadlines - in the allotted proposal window, you cannot waste time because your team THINKS you mean one thing when you REALLY mean another.
For example, writers may think, “The schedule says that inputs are due by Wednesday at 5pm, but the Proposal Manager will not be looking at them until Thursday. So, I'll get my input in by Thursday morning.”
In almost all team sports, team members must communicate with each other during both practice and performance periods.
Be straightforward, direct, and honest with your team. Let them know that you will stick to the schedule and demand excellence. To navigate the proposal process successfully, the Proposal Manager’s job is to reach the finish line with all team members – not to leave anyone behind in the race. This will be easier with the support of everyone on the team. Be proactive in addressing issues that arise - do not sugarcoat or beat around the bush when performance needs to be addressed.
Just like setting a meaningful, real, and important schedule, the team should be able to count on communication with the proposal leadership team, which includes the Proposal Manager, Capture Managers, and Volume Leads. Give clear directions and validate their understanding of assignments. The entire team needs to work together, understand the goal, and get to that finish line on time, together.
To win government contracts, this communication must flow from the BD Leadership Team to the business development team, through capture planning, the proposal process, to the submission of the government proposal.
It is always good to take inputs and suggestions from the team. Weigh the value of suggestions and determine if they will enhance the process, save time, make tasks easier, or be a positive impact to the team and to this bid. But beware of suggestions that are merely focused on changing the process ‘because that is the way we have always done it’ or ‘this way is better.’ Consider the impact of a change on the team and any learning curve resulting from that change. A suggestion might be valid at another time but not now, when time is limited. Also, do not waste time considering non-compliant ideas. Well-meaning team members may not understand RFP compliance like the Proposal Manager.
Encourage inputs that will help with proposal automation, proposal win themes, or maybe a tool or process to serve as a proposal guide. You probably are working with a team that has a diverse background - leverage that knowledge to benefit the team.
Implement peer reviews of inputs that will create more opportunities for your team to work together to improve each other’s inputs. This style of collaboration will improve communication across the team.
It is hard to imagine a proposal without a few hurdles – whether expected or unexpected – there will be challenges for the team. Be prepared for hurdles and know how to get over them. There will be issues and problems that arise and need correction or re-direction. Be constructive, be positive, and always be self-controlled. The proposal leadership team must be knowledgeable, approachable, and compassionate with team members. Be courteous and helpful and willing to assist team members with tasks – even if you must complete someone else’s task to meet a deadline.
This is the 5th in a 12-part series Get More from 24 Hours. This series is based on the eBook Get More From 24 Hours in a Day and Win More Government Contracts, which contains the entire series with additional bonus content and tutorials. The eBook is evolved from a presentation at APMP's International Bid & Proposal Con 2021, given by OneTeam's Product Manager, Donna Hamby. Download your free copy of the eBook.
OneTeam is a complete, secure, cloud-based collaboration platform for GovCons to track, qualify, capture, propose and win more contracts with fewer resources by streamlining and automating processes. OneTeam was designed and developed by a federal government contractor to address the lack of resources and time, as well as the pain associated with winning government contracts.