By Global Services on September 20, 2021
Developing any proposal is a team effort, and the bigger the proposal, the bigger the proposal team.
Below, we outline the key roles you need on your proposal team. In practice, one individual may serve in multiple roles – for instance, the Proposal Manager might also serve as the Proofreader/Editor, the Capture Manager might also be a Book Boss, and so on. This is especially true in small businesses, where individuals regularly perform multiple roles and wear multiple hats.
The Core Proposal Roles
Capture Manager. The Capture Manager or Business Development Lead is responsible for identifying the opportunity, developing customer intimacy, and positioning your firm for success before the Request for Proposal (RFP) ever comes out. Based on their customer knowledge, they work with the Proposal Manager to develop the overall proposal strategy and win themes. For contracts where your firm is the incumbent, the contract’s Program Manager may serve as the Capture Manager.
Proposal Manager. The Proposal Manager leads the proposal effort. They are responsible for shredding the RFP, developing compliant templates, developing and managing the proposal calendar, leading Color Team Reviews, ensuring compliance, and other related tasks.
Proposal Coordinator. The roles of the Proposal Coordinator consist of assisting the Proposal Manager with tasks such as creating, distributing, and tracking data calls, developing templates, and other related tasks.
Book Bosses. Each volume of the proposal has an assigned Book Boss (e.g., a Technical Book Boss, a Past Performance Book Boss, a Pricing Book Boss, and so on). The Book Bosses report to the Proposal Manager and are responsible for developing the content within their volumes. They may write content themselves or delegate it to other writers as appropriate, but they are responsible for making sure all sections get written. When there is a conflict between two writers’ approaches, the Book Boss decides how to proceed.
Subcontractor Leads. If you are working with subcontractors, it’s important to identify the single point of contact (SPOC) at each subcontractor company that you can contact for all proposal matters. These individuals are responsible for obtaining all requested information/support from their companies.
Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)/Technical Writers. SMEs are responsible for writing sections of the proposal as assigned by the Book Bosses. In some cases, dedicated Technical Writers may assist the SMEs.
Color Team Reviewers. Any proposal effort requires multiple review and recovery cycles. Ideally, the reviewers will be experts in the field who were not involved in the writing. In practice, especially in small businesses, the SMEs/Technical Writers will also serve as the Color Team Reviewers. In these cases, the Proposal Manager will make review assignments such that the writers of Section A review Section B, the writers of Section B review Section A, and so on.
Proofreader/Editor. The Proofreader/Editor edits the proposal for grammatical correctness, stylistic consistency, and “one voicing” (i.e., making sure that the various proposal sections sound like they are all written in the same voice). In practice, the Proposal Manager and/or Proposal Coordinator will often also serve as the Proofreader/Editor.
Graphic Designer. The graphic designer creates compliant, visually compelling proposal graphics based on sketches/concepts developed by the SMEs, Book Bosses, and/or Proposal Manager.
Desktop Publisher. The Desktop Publisher prepares the final proposal documents for digital submission, ensuring that formatting is correct and consistent throughout, files meet size requirements, etc. In practice, the Proposal Manager or Proposal Coordinator will often serve as the Desktop Publisher.
Hard Copy Publisher. Although less common than in the past, some agencies still request hard copy proposals. Larger organizations with their own internal print shops may publish the hard copies themselves; smaller organizations may instead choose to engage an outside vendor. Either way, the Hard Copy Publisher prints, binds, and ships the proposal to the customer.
Other Important Players
Senior Leadership. It’s important to have your company’s senior leadership involved in the proposal throughout the process, since they have the final say over whether or not the proposal will be submitted. At a minimum, senior leadership should be involved in the proposal kickoff meeting and the Color Team Reviews.
Recruiting/Human Resources. Many proposals require resumes for key personnel, and some even require resumes for non-key personnel. The Resumes Book Boss may work with the recruiting/HR team to find appropriate candidates.
Contracts and Legal. The Contracts and Legal departments should review the RFP for any red flags early in the process. If there are any showstoppers in the contractual requirements, early identification of those can prevent wasted effort on what turns out to be a no-bid.
P.S. Many proposal teams use SharePoint, Teams, or similar collaborative file sharing platforms to facilitate writing and review. These are great tools, but of course, the more complex the tool, the more things can go wrong with it. It’s important to have support in place for if, and when, something breaks. Even if you’re taking a lower-tech approach, the proposal effort still relies on all kinds of systems—from your PC to your email server to your Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone—which may need urgent repair.
Ready to augment your proposal team? Contact Global Services to learn how we can help!