Use your artifacts to develop proposal templates


You are becoming a proposal-generating powerhouse, cranking them out one after another. It feels like critical mass is just around the corner, and it’s time to seriously consider how you can streamline proposal production. One way you can do that is reusing information you already have from previously submitted proposals.

The core customers you support release requests for proposals (RFPs) that generally include consistent proposal preparation instructions. Conduct an analysis of the RFPs from each of your customers. You’ll find areas that include consistent requirements you can use to create proposal templates easily with the proper design and format, and that is going to save you time and money.

  1. Requirements such as the page layout, font, and margins are basically going to be the same from bid to bid. These requirements are going to enable you to start the process with a proposal that is fully formatted in final and compliant submission form.
  2. If you analyzed the RFPs released from a specific customer, odds are most of the headings will probably be similar if not the same across the board. For example, the details they want proposed in the management approach section (program management, subcontractor management, risk management, communication, etc.) are consistent. Use that information to your advantage by developing templates based on the consistent requirements your customers always include in their RFPs.
  3. Develop a graphics library. There are certain graphics that are common to proposals. Features/benefits tables, organizational charts, and flowcharts demonstrating processes (recruiting, risk management, transition, etc.) are some of the graphics you can have ready to go. Use these graphics as a foundation; it takes less time to make the minor revisions needed to have the graphics reflect the details of a specific proposal than trying to always create the graphic anew.
  4. Think of your resume. Guess what? The information you provide on your resume is the same information your customer wants to see on the resumes you submit in your proposal. Create a template with headings for this information: name, job title, security clearance level, education, previous employment, and awards and certifications.
  5. You can collect standard past performance information, too. Periodically check with the program managers to gather any customer kudos or other awards and recognition program staff have received on outstanding work. Use this information in call-out boxes throughout your proposals as examples of the quality of work.

A few points to keep in mind:

  • Have someone with excellent attention for detail to review your templates. It is easy to get lax after a while when tailoring pre-use material for a new proposal. Avoid embarrassing situations by having someone with a fresh eyes review the material to make sure it is revised appropriately.
  • When you propose a unique solution, it generally is not possible to re-use material.
  • Evaluate the number of edits you will need to make to tailor the re-use material for a specific proposal. There are circumstances where it will take more time to revise the material than it would to write it.
  • It is best to use your artifacts to develop a proposal template when you offer the same services/products and/or the RFP is the same each time.
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