Here are a few final tips. These have been garnered from many years of working on medium- and large-scale public sector health care procurements.
- Having an outsourced proposal development team does not absolve internal staff from their primary responsibility to design the technical solution and to answer the proposal developer’s questions. It does free internal staff from proposal management and development tasks. The proposal consultants are not mind readers. While they have (or should have!) expertise in your industry, and with proposals, they don’t know the structure or details of your organization and your approach. If you ignore the proposal team, you are in effect asking them to write fiction: just be sure you’re going to be happy with that story.
- If you don’t like what the consultants are doing in the proposal, tell them, and ask them to fix it. They would rather have a chance to make it right than to either: (a) have you fix it and then just complain about their work (to everyone but them); or (b) not fix it, complain anyway, and lose.
- Corollary to rule #2 – if the consulting team is pushing back on something you have asked to change, it may be because: (a) it weakens your proposal presentation in ways that are not obvious; (b) it weakens your product strategy; (c) it is a last-minute fix and creates too many risks in verifying and reconciling related changes.
- Don’t expect proposal consultants to sit around waiting for you to call. That is: “we got an RFP from XYZ this morning, can you start today?” If you know that you will be bidding on an upcoming procurement, and know that you will need help, get a commitment early. Otherwise, it’s quite likely that your chosen firm will be off working for another client – perhaps on the same procurement. Similarly, if you are anticipating a rush of proposals at a particular time of year – perhaps a combination of renewals and expansion opportunities – it is wise to reserve capacity well in advance, before it’s gone.