How long have you been a proposal manager/specialist/ writer?
How did you become involved with proposals?
First exposure was course work in college. I began my career as a technical writer. While at that job I was asked to participate in a large weapons systems proposal to the US Navy. After the federal funding ran out on my writing project I left the job to become a proposal writer for Scientific Games.
Do you work in a "corporate office" or "home office" environment?
I have worked in a home office for the past five years.
What do you like best about working in your current environment?
The dress code. No distractions or politics. Automation tools are essential to working at home. When I worked in an office I disliked them but working remotely caused me to change my mind.
What do you like least about working in your current environment?
It gets lonely sometimes. No war room and not enough face to face collaboration with team members.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your job?
As a proposal professional it is to convince those outside the profession that they too are stakeholders in what proposal teams do for their companies whether they are directly involved or not. Proposal departments always have another RFP to work on, but the company will be short a contract if the responses aren’t successful. So they need to get onboard because proposals impact everyone’s future.
What shortcuts or helpful best practices about working with proposal teams could you share?
I've led and I have been a member of proposal teams throughout my career. I don’t believe there are short cuts unless all of your responses are the same. I do believe that drafting an executive summary shortly after the kickoff meeting is helpful to capture thoughts and ideas that emerged when all the stakeholders were present and thinking about the opportunity at the same time. Always refer back to it during the course of the project to make sure that the response and the summary are aligned. When possible I build a straw man document in advance of an RFP being issued. I use a prior RFP from the same customer as the guide and pull in the latest information to the questions. In some cases large portions of the RFP will be satisfied with the straw man information and it provides a good starting point for other sections.
Why/when did you join APMP?
After 25 years in the proposal business I thought it would be good to become certified.
What is your method for successfully working with your proposal teams?
When I led a department of proposal writers I tried to identify how each team member learned; whether they had to read, be hands on, lectured to or all three to understand what they were expected to know. I then made sure that they were able to work given the best way possible to match their learning style. Be respectful and appreciative for SME contributions whether they are satisfactory or not. If they aren’t satisfactory here is a teaching moment and opportunity to collaborate more closely. Be aware that there might be several ways to arrive at the same point. Allow members to get there the way that makes most sense for them. Mentor or coach when necessary so that time is not wasted.
Which type of proposals do you do most? Commercial, government or other?
Proposals to U.S. state and foreign governments.