Writing an Interesting Proposal

It is important that you understand the government agency’s needs for the services requested as this is the first step in their gaining confidence in your firm’s ability to deliver the required services. With some proposal consulting and coaching, like that offered by The RFP Firm, you’ll be able to submit an interesting proposal that communicates you understanding as to why it is important, why it is timely, and why your company is uniquely suited to provide the services being requested.

Each RFP is going to be different, but there are some basic strategies when proposal writing that apply for almost every proposal regardless of the subject matter. Your proposal will be setting the stage for the government’s expectations as to how you will execute the contract, so it is critical to present your vision for the project up front, describing when the various tasks will take place. Even though the technical specifics will differ for each project, there are key aspects that will be the same across most proposals. The first is gaining their attention and convincing them that you are the right contractor to work on the project versus other firms who are submitting competing bids.

When writing your technical approach think about what issues you think are really important. This is where you have an opportunity to think long-term, so focus on the biggest problems you see that need to be solved and the best ways to solve them. Describe the best methods to solve it and the best people to work on it, even if you know that your approach may evolve over time.

Developing a strategy

Often, writing a project proposal can take some effort, but it is a requirement for winning the bid. View proposal writing as part of the project. Think through strategies that you have used successfully with other clients and adapt those approaches. This can take a lot of time and reflection but solving even simple problems can require spending time to understand the deep underlying structure of the problem, so think broadly to see if there are approaches from other disciplines that might be able to help. The ability to relate the structure of the problem with the correct strategy can result in a successful approach.

Think about the different possibilities and adapt your strategies to the problem. This can take time, so don’t think that you can just cut and paste what you may have designed for a previous proposal. Consider the problem at hand and develop a strategy to solve it. This is one of the most important parts of the proposal project.

Key issues to address

Each proposal needs to address the following:

  • Why are the most important issues?
  • How can these issues be successfully resolved?
  • Why it is important to implement the correct strategy and what could happen if not done correctly?
  • Why your company is the best option to solve the issues at hand?

Your main goal is to convince the evaluators that your firm can solve their problems with the lowest risk. You’ll need to convince them that your firm has successfully done this with other clients in the past, that you have the key personnel with the relevant experience, and you have the financial resources to manage the entire project from beginning to end.

Understanding the problem from their point of view

The problem you are proposing to solve may be affected by new circumstances or the reemergence of an old problem. Or it may be a new problem that has been impacted by new issues not relevant in the past related to technology or environmental changes. Understanding these changes will help to communicate your solution in a way that demonstrates that understanding and that you understand the importance or urgency of the solution.

Why your company is the best choice

One of the key determinants in the evaluation process is deciding which firm to award the contract to when several appear to be qualified. They may understand your company has the experience and you have a high-quality project team, but why choose you?

The key is to convince the agency evaluators that your company is uniquely qualified to do the job. Identifying what you have that your competitors do not is one of the most effective strategies. This might be specific experience, certain methodologies, your key personnel, or additional value-added services. In addition, if possible, provide a vision of the outcome that goes beyond what they may be looking for and creates excitement in anticipation of your results. If done right, this could even provide you with future work beyond what is specified in the current RFP. With the proper proposal consulting, you should be able to show that your vision is realistic and that your team is qualified to execute that vision.

You’ll need to articulate what resources you have available, i.e., people, partners, resources, and specific key personnel that you bring to the project. Identify where in the project these resources will have a role.

Demonstrate that you understand the issues and provide a comprehensive plan that shows how your team members and resources fit together and the importance of each in your plan. While developing a successful team and partners can take time, it should ultimately result in a better project under your leadership as the project coordinator and driving force.

Provide a vision of the Ultimate Outcome

One last thing when proposal writing is to make your proposal grasp the reader’s attention by telling a story. This can be based on the founding of your company and how you came to have developed the expertise that you bring to the project. Show your compassion for the services rendered and how that leads to consistently providing every client with the highest quality that will exceed their expectations. Identify the problem and how you came about developing your strategy and methods for solving that problem that is unique to your approach. Discuss the difficulties that you came across and that most contractors face, and then describe how you came up with your approach resulting in extremely satisfied customers for whom you have continued to provide services. Describe how, in the past, you used an approach that is typical in your industry, but that your unique approach has set you apart from your competitors and has led to highly satisfied clients over the years.

Leave the reader with a feeling that going with your firm will result in high satisfaction with the end results and that failure to do so would result in a missed opportunity that will improve the image of their agency.