How Are Winning Proposals Written?

The major steps in writing a compelling and effective federal proposal are as follows:

  1. Your staff must deconstruct the RFP, sentence by sentence and clause by clause, to build a complete proposal template (outline) which addresses every meaningful term and proposal requirement. Throw away the RFP. Do the same with every amendment and update the template.

  2. Move (i) existing corporate experience descriptions, resumes, technical and management plan content from old proposals, and (ii) files of model content and solutions to your new proposal file. 

  3. Flag the holes in the content template that need filling and pass the task on to the technical writers with instructions to gather required information and data and to draft new content that fills the holes.  Start praying.

  4. Assign deadlines to the technical writers and then beg management to enforce the deadlines (and pray some more). Reassign content when the results are poor.

  5. Pull it together, conduct reviews, edit and publish.

What is the most critical step? Number 1, by far.  Without an outline, confusion and chaos will reign. And worse yet, you may find yourself with a proposal that doesn't meet the RFPs specifications or without a finished product. The next most crucial step is Number 4. Many managers find proposal writing distasteful and will hide rather than wield the stick that it takes to get compelling content from technical writers.

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