Perspicacious Priyadarshi

Thoughts, Observations, Interpretations

Archive for June 12, 2007

Proposal Writer’s Problems

As a writer/editor in a presales team, you certainly have the responsibility of publishing the right kind of persuasive message and ensure the “winnability” of a proposal. Proposals vary in size, number of pages, complexity, technicality, business domains, pricing, type of customer, etc. Sometime the only thing that you require to do is to replace the name of the customer from an old proposal and publish it for a prospect. However, this is not the case always. Many times, you are required to work on proposals that are unique. Here are the challenges that a writer/ editor face while working for a proposal:

  • Tsunami of information from stakeholders. This leads to information anarchy. As a thoughtful communicator, you need to rework and rearrange the information so that it serves the requirements of the prospect.
  • Lack of processes. Who send what to whom and when. These are the eternal questions asked by the presales team members from beginning to end of a proposal development lifecycle. Don the role of an information manager and design a feasible and scalable information process flow. This will help you control the problems to a certain extent.
  • Just correct the English. That’s what I have been asked to do at the penultimate hour many a times. I would suggest a technical writer to take complete control on the content quality in a proposal. Apart from grammar, ensure that the information is persuasive and helps you win the bid. You also have to work on the logical flow, usability and visual appeal of the proposal.
  • Not much time left. Half a day for reviewing and editing a proposal prepared by ten people. How can somebody achieve this feat? I would suggest you to use the smart strategy of content reusability. Prepare generic sections like details about your company and customer, quality, project management, intellectual property issues, infrastructure, case studies, resumes, etc, well in advance, adopting a particular standard, style and template. Ask the presales team to use the information. The only thing that should be focused thereafter is customer specific information like the parts of executive summary, solution details, pricing, etc.
  • Formatting and reformatting. Your word template goes on a toss when it is handled by people who are not much bothered about the formatting sensibilities. A majority of your time goes for reformatting the proposal. Train people on how to use templates effectively. Propose a well defined template. If possible use a good publishing tool that uses single sourcing concepts.
  • Change management. When a team works on a proposal, this is a common situation. Too many versions of information, last minute reviews, rewritten information, etc. Change request coming in mails, in multiple formats, in chat messages, and even by telephone. All these demand great attention. You need to insert the latest and correct information in the latest version of proposal. Suggest a new-age content management system or at least a file naming convention to have some amount of control.

(Unedited, scribbled, list not in order of priority)

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