A small government contractor experienced rapid expansion over a period of 3 years after winning several large research and evaluation contracts. As the company grew from less than 15 to more than 30 people, it needed to respond to – and win – a larger number of RFPs every year, and to pursue contract opportunities with higher dollar values.
Prior to expansion, most technical proposals were written and compiled by people who had no prior business development experience and hadn’t received any training on the government proposal process. Proposal writing and contributor assignments were solely based on who was available at the time. In addition, there was no coordination between proposal team members, each of whom was working on a different section of a given proposal. This resulted in a lot of wasted time, rework, missed deadlines, late nights, and submission of proposals that didn’t meet quality standards, with little consistency in the format, content, and appearance across proposals.
I was tasked with developing a comprehensive system for proposal development that would be implemented company-wide. This included defining processes, creating resources and tools, and training personnel to ensure all proposals were submitted in accordance with a consistent set of compliance, completion, and quality standards.
I built and implemented a comprehensive proposal infrastructure from scratch. This included:
- Writing detailed descriptions of each step in the proposal process.
- Creating and formalizing a schedule by which all proposals needed to be developed.
- Developing templates for different proposal types (Sources Sought, IDIQ, RFQ, etc.) and common proposal components (past performance descriptions, corporate capabilities, staff qualifications, management plans, etc.) that were consistent with the company’s design style.
- Developing and delivering a full proposal management training curriculum to increase the number of people across the company who could lead a proposal from conception to submittal, ensuring completeness, timeliness, and compliance with all requirements.
- Developing a curriculum to train all company personnel. This training included an overview of the whole proposal process, understanding different types of solicitations, and the various proposal components that may be assigned.
- Compiling and maintaining a resource library with examples of technical and business language, visual aids, corporate history, examples of prior work, etc., that team members could use as a starting point, rather than starting from scratch every time.
The company increased the number of high quality, competitive proposals submitted from about 25 per year to more than 100 per year as a result of the streamlined and defined process, greater understanding of the overall proposal process among all personnel, and increase in the number of personnel who could competently manage and lead on a full proposal. Once this system was in place, the company not only had 8 people who could manage and lead the process, it also had a full infrastructure to continue training additional personnel to support future growth.