Woman training team of people

If you are pulling a team together for an RFP pursuit, it’s a good idea to have a kickoff meeting to outline expectations and deliverables.  This will ensure a great proposal in less time and hopefully less pain.  The best way to avoid a mad dash to the deadline is to have a kickoff meeting immediately after the pre-bid meeting.

Meeting Preparation

Only invite key staff members to the kickoff meeting.  Usually the project manager, marketing coordinator, and business development manager are involved in these meetings.  When setting up the meeting with your team, make sure you tell everyone in your calendar invite to read the RFP first before showing up to the meeting.  It doesn’t hurt to attach a copy of the RFQ or RFP so there are no excuses for not reading it.

 Proposal Plan

The best way to prepare for a kick-off meeting is to prepare a Proposal Plan.

1.       Pick your favorite tool (Word or Excel).

2.       Create a proposal outline in a table format based on the structure the RFP provides.  For example:

  • Section 1:  Understanding of Services and Approach
  • Section 2:  Qualifications

3.       Add two columns, one for “Who’s Responsible” and “Deadline,” respectively.

4.       Create space for the team.

5.       Create space for relevant project experience.

6.       Proposed Schedule:  Draft 1 will be completed on this date, Draft 2 will be created on this date.

7.       List general proposal requirements (12 point font, double-sided, 50-page limit, number of copies, etc.)

8.       List proposal delivery requirements (time, place, etc.)

9.       Additional Questions to ask the procurement specialist.

Don’t Leave Until You Have the Answers

Do not leave the kickoff meeting until you have every item on your proposal plan taken care of, someone responsible for giving you the information, and a date and time when the task will be completed.  In some cases, this may be you for most of the items, but the main point of this exercise is accountability.

Follow Up

When the deadlines approach, start following up with team members and remind them, “This is what we agreed to at the kickoff meeting, do you have item 2 ready?”

Summary

Stick with the process!  Your team will get used to the overall process and it will make getting your content together easier.  If you have any questions about proposal plans and kickoff meetings, please contact us.

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Creating Balance During the Proposal Pursuit

Creating Balance in the Proposal Process
The idea of work-life balance has gained a lot of popularity in recent years as millennials have entered the workplace. Working a 9 to 5 and then going home and turning off work is getting harder thanks to mobile connectivity.  Instead of looking at work and life as two separate places, what happens when we start examining them as intertwined pattern woven together.  Each strand has a different color, a different meaning, but when woven together, produces a beautiful pattern.  When our work-life balance is working, this pattern is really nice to look at.  When it’s well…we usually start looking for another job but we don’t really ever think about what went wrong in the process.
As a manager, if you can extend your empathy out and start focusing on creating a family environment in the office, you’ll find the benefits rewarding.  This attitude will help you as a manager start to feel less stress because you’re not trying to compartmentalize people and things and instead, viewing them as an organic extension of your mission and values.
Here are three ideas for a more balanced workplace:
  1. Trust as a foundation.  Establishing trust as a major element of your team is key to getting the most out of employees in your organization.  What you can see in a lot of organizations are elements for creating distrust. Although time sheets are required for billing, and open floor plans are more efficient, your employees may feel like they’re constantly being watched.  Although some of these tools and strategies may be operational necessities, creating ways to make a workplace feel like a place of trust are even more important than ever.
  2. Failure is okay.  Not only should failures (big and small) be okay, but the lessons learned should be rewarded.  If your team is pushing limits to their creativity, there are bound to be some failures along the way.  At Facebook, “Fail Faster,” was a key mantra.  The faster the Facebook team failed, the quicker they got to the right solution.  The main point being, once your team gets over the fear of failure, solutions and success come faster.
  3. Have a framework to work through disagreements.  In many organizations, the fear of conflict can paralyze progress.  As a team, it’s important to have a framework for working through problems so these issues don’t fester and create blocks in your team’s productivity.

Working and winning projects can be an intense process.  Long hours and tight deadlines can really create a lot of drama for proposal teams.  In order to keep the team working well, a deep foundation of trust, openness to failures, and a framework to work through disagreements are all key to making sure a team survives all of the bumps in the road.  Contact us for more help with training your proposal team.