Whether it’s a business plan, PQQ, tender or a post-tender submission, it’s probably one of the most important documents that you will write. Adrian JG Marsh offers a few tips to those facing a deadline and wondering where to start.
Large corporates have the resources to set up teams specifically to produce a wide range of proposals. In my time at Crown House, Tarmac and BAM I provided a dedicated proposal writing and design service that helped to make them read well and look smart.
For organisations that cannot afford to carry the costs of an in-house team, they face a twin challenge. Trying to squeeze in the day job, and at the same time, meet a deadline that is not going to change.
Here are a few tips.
Most firms will struggle if they don’t have a plan and process in place. Leave a PQQ to the last minute and there is every chance that it will go uncompleted because there will be questions that ask for information that is not readily available; such as insurance policy numbers or recent client testimonials.
Regularly review the requirements and if vital company information is missing, keep asking for it until it arrives. And if you’re designing and writing your own proposal, make sure that there is a backup copy kept at all times. A computer glitch can see all your hard work lost in a blink of an eye.
If you know the work that you would like to win, take steps to understand the criteria that your potential client will assess you. Also, read the questions and requirements in an invitation to submit a proposal carefully. Then you make sure that you answer the questions and include evidence that you meet the required criteria.
There are many problems that can materialise but a pre-planning will go a long way to making the production of bids and proposals more efficient, and so give you a greater chance of success. The process needs to be well structured from start to finish.
Get someone else to read it through and confirm that it makes sense. Proofreading might seem expensive and take time but it can avoid costly mistakes and also give you an edge.
And it is not just traditional bids and proposals that need careful production. During the pandemic, many firms applied for grants and support. Supplying a business plan was often necessary to include with applications. Our experience has shown that a well-articulated and clear presentation of business plans meant firms were more likely of securing grants and funding.
Keep an eye firmly on the deadline.
In days gone by, everything was submitted as a hard copy and was either hand delivered or couriered. I can recall the nightmare of a multi-million-pound bid waiting for a courier to collect it on a Friday evening. I turned and stopped at the reception to find out where the courier was. No courier had been ordered…! Got it ordered and picked up for it to be delivered on the following Monday…phew.
These days digital documents are so much easier to handle but make sure that they are saved at a size that portals or email can handle. Resizing documents at the last minute can make your heart rate begin to climb.
My advice is to prepare, prepare and keep preparing. This will give you a chance to reduce the pain, stress and frustration as a deadline looms.