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Proposal Organization

Baskar Sundaram

A well-organized proposal is easy for readers to understand and evaluate, will give you higher evaluation scores, improve customer confidence in your ability to deliver and make proposals easier to write.

Attributes of a well-organized proposal:

▪ They provide a roadmap to how the proposal is organized.

▪ They make key points easy for evaluators to identify and understand.

▪ They are written from the customer’s point of view, evidenced in the

organization scheme.

▪ They tell customers what is important to them.

▪ They use multiple highlighting techniques (headings, roadmaps, graphics, etc.) to enable evaluators to scan the document and locate the information they need.

How can you create a well-organised proposal?

Plan content before you write.

Content plans are essential in team writing efforts. Content plans help writers plan and structure their thinking before beginning to write. It also captures proposal strategies and shows writers where and how to include the strategies in written content. Choose the appropriate content planning tool familiar to your organization that fits the bid’s characteristics and timeframe.

Organize your bid or proposal according to the customer’s instructions.

Use the exact headings from the bid request, and include all sections that the customer requires. Prepare a top-level, topical outline that follows the prospect’s organizational priority. Mimic the numbering system, naming conventions, and order listed in the bid request.

Make information easy for evaluators to find.

The introduction to the proposal and all subsequent sections should provide a roadmap for what follows. Use the executive summary to connect with the customer, demonstrate an understanding of their key issues, provide a solution for each issue, and summarize. Headings are a key way to direct evaluators to information. Use headings to organize and announce content. Use telegraphic headings that label content, but do not provide description and informative headings that are usually short and informative phrases. Use telegraphic headings to label major sections, and add extra structure to the proposal using informative headings in all other instances to provide additional detail for the evaluator. Limit numbered headings to three levels unless otherwise directed in the bid request.

Use a structure that layers information for the reader.

Structure your points in a way that “layers” information for the reader. Begin by introducing a topic at a high level and then gradually add to your explanation with supporting facts and claims. Next, give proof for your claims with examples, case studies, and other details. Address any potential drawbacks or give further support for your own position. Finally, write a conclusion that summarizes your main points and reinforces your position. Use persuasive writing.

Group similar ideas and avoid redundancy.

Examine an RFP before writing and use content plans to help writers identify and group similar ideas in order to avoid any confusion. Group similar ideas together and eliminate redundancies.

If the RFP has specific instructions for response structure, use the following guidelines:

○ If the same question is asked in two different volumes, repeat the answer (and tell reviewers that it is repeated). Cross-check to ensure the answer has a consistent message.

○ If the same question is asked more than once in the same volume, answer the question fully in the first instance. In later instances, summarize your answer and cross-reference to the full answer’s location.

○ When an RFP forces you to answer similar questions in disparate sections of a response, summarize your solution in the structure you prefer. Then, answer questions following the customer’s requirements.

○ Consider using a compliance matrix, which can help the client identify where in the document you’ve answered each question.

Put the most important points first.

Whether you are writing a proposal section, a paragraph, or a simple bulleted list, put your most important points first. Tell customers what you will do and how it will benefit them.

Content planning matters because proposal evaluators are short on time. The more easily they can get the information they need from your proposal, the better. Proposals should be organized with customers in mind, following their requirements and making navigation simple. One way to make reviewers’ jobs easier is to put the most important information first, followed by less critical information. Content planning should always precede actual writing. In fact, the writing stage should come last.

 

The article briefly details key examinable syllabus area from the APMP Foundation certification.

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