What a great time to be working in proposal development….
Helping companies in all sectors identify and prosper from best practice to help them win
Having worked on proposals across all industries and sectors for over 20 years, I would say this is probably the most exciting, creative and innovative time to be a proposals specialist and to be helping companies identify and share THEIR best practice that helps them win wherever they are bidding.
We all know that the nature of proposal development has changed dramatically in recent years. Now it encompasses e-bidding, e-auctions, the no-ITT (guess our requirements!) procurement, competitive dialogue and ever-more-prescriptive word-limited portal responses. Many of these activities seem to be trying to squeeze out any vestige of creativity and make it easier for evaluators to score everyone on a like-for-like basis. The challenge for us, then, helping clients differentiate from the pack in this type of environment is not only fantastic for us as bidding specialists but also sorts out the ‘best practice’ operators amongst us!
The wider the range of companies we work with and the more complex and detailed ITTs we see across industries and geographical areas worldwide, the more we can help companies recognise trends, prepare for the future and adapt their product and service offerings accordingly. And we continue to learn too, because even in the smallest companies we find pockets of innovation and improvement, developing better and best practice within their own organisation.
Of course best practice means different things to different companies. For start-ups and small or growing businesses, it might simply be achieving a high-quality written articulation of their value proposition and a range of compliant policies and procedures so that they can compete in their chosen markets. For more established and successful organisations, it is more likely to be about helping them get ahead of the curve, through to actively influencing how their clients and prospects procure in the future.
For all companies, best practice is certainly about improving qualification, enhancing the tools and techniques that help them respond cost-effectively to what their clients are looking for, without reinventing the wheel every time. For us, it is also about working with Government and private sector bodies to lobby for changes to enable smaller companies to compete more effectively in procurement programmes.
For those of us who remember when best practice in proposal presentation was considered to be a leather-bound series of ponderous tomes (never mind the quality, feel the weight…) and “proposal management” meant efficient word-processing, it’s fantastic now to be part of an industry where helping companies engage, sell and differentiate through their written proposals is recognised and valued as a key skill.
The opportunities for all of us as experts, practitioners and “consumers” to learn and grow are surely greater now than ever before.
Those of us who are actively looking for best practice, next practice, future practice, are simply having the best time as well as learning the most with and from our clients – and meeting terrific people….