When it comes to competitive bidding, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. What is the key differentiator among companies who consistently win bids? Your team and its’ processes.
Building a high-performing bidding team requires the perfect blend of proposal managers, subject matter experts, pricing experts, and key decision-makers.
The contract lifecycle can extend over many months—even years; assembling a team to tackle this long-term project takes careful planning. To create a winning strategy, organize a team that can collectively review opportunities, manage communications, negotiate details, implement governance, and assess overall risk all in a standardized process.
With clearly defined goals in place, your proposal team can collaborate to combine its knowledge and build repeatable processes. Below, we dive into the team and organizational structures that yield successful RFP management processes.
Know the power of diversity in your people
With compliance and processes continuously changing, your workforce needs to adapt to stay competitive in the marketplace.
A diversified organization benefits from increased productivity, creativity, heightened internal communication, and a wider array of problem-solving solutions. Perhaps a recent college graduate doesn’t have the experience, but their technological expertise is a welcomed strength among the team. New ideas, an openness to trying new technologies, and fresh perspectives are the core tenets of a strong and unified team.
Once you know your optimum blend of people, it’s time to organize your core team members to create, manage, and deliver your organization’s winning bids. (2) (3)
The Team Structure: Six Core Roles
- Bid Manager. The captain of the contract ship, the bid manager leads the entire bid process, from opportunity to award. With repeatable processes in place, they structure each bid team with the technological, industry, product, and service expertise relevant to each opportunity.
The Bid Manager should display up-to-date knowledge of the RFP and proposal process. On-time project delivery, well-positioned business objectives, and a proven record of winning contracts are the main qualifications to look for when onboarding a bid manager.
Great Bid Managers don’t take every opportunity that comes their way—they scrutinize each RFP and assess whether it is a viable option for your organization.
- Proposal Manager. Heading the RFP Process, the Proposal Manager facilitates kick-off meetings, reviews, collaborative sessions, proposal governance, approvals, and delivery of the final proposal.
The Proposal Manager should be qualified to plan compliant proposals and follow all necessary procedures. Project Management experience is a key qualifier, as this role coordinates deadlines, manages internal communications, reports to senior levels, and negotiates proposal details.
- Proposal Writer. The proposal writer is the subject matter expert for producing accurate, compelling, compliant, and winning content. Proposal copy is a multi-tiered process involving storyboard meetings, mission statements, brand messaging, draft phases, editing and on-site, revisions.
When hiring a Proposal Writer, examine their writing samples and look for consistency, compelling content, credible sources, and adherence to the company “voice.”
Proposals are complex, so content should be clear, concise, and factual. The Proposal Writer will be the main contributor to storyboarding sessions, review meetings, and final edits. He or she also usually oversees template design and production.
- Bid Coordinator.The Bid Coordinator coordinates and produces the bid, or proposal response document. Responsibilities include implementation of all necessary document version control processes.
If your team needs to onboard a Bid Coordinator, look for proven ability in planning, producing, and delivering complex proposal documents. The Bid Coordinator should be experienced in attending proposal kick-off meetings, participating in storyboard sessions, attending review meetings, managing document governance and sign-off, print production, and delivery of the completed proposal.
- Knowledgebase Manager. The Knowledgebase or Content Manager is responsible for maintaining and expanding the content repository and shared drive to improve proposal quality and productivity. Ideally, they seamlessly integrate with existing project management systems to ensure data compliance and security.
The Knowledgebase/Content Manager should collaborate with the organization’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who originally author the content. They are expected to manage content updates during a pre-determined cycle and should also feel comfortable scrutinizing RFPs to identify areas that require improvement or further explanation.
- Graphics Manager. The Graphics Manager is responsible for creating custom proposal designs and formatting them to government standards (cover page, font, font size, etc.). They work in tandem with your Contract/Proposal specialist and your Proposal Writer to deliver impactful graphics that fit time-sensitive needs.
The Graphics Manager should have experience producing government-compliant digital and print templates. They should also feel comfortable collaborating with SMEs to convert data into charts, infographics, or other visual design components. Advanced experience with multiple software and design tools is a must to produce digital and print collateral (brochures, presentations, emails, social media graphics, reports, websites, and other media). (2)
Train your team: skills management
Formal or informal, internal, or external, professional training will prepare your team for proposal competition. Find the best and most accessible training for your organization’s size, skill level, and budget.
The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP). APMP is the worldwide authority for professionals dedicated to the process of winning business through proposals, bids, and presentations. Still working remotely. Several of their courses are available online, where you can take professional designation exams and earn multiple certifications.
Events like the Government Contract Pricing Summit is a one-of-a-kind conference that can help elevate the pricing portion and management of your team’s bid. What to expect: professional courses, education and certification, networking, and inspiring keynotes from industry and government leaders.
Organizational Communications, Inc. (OCI) Improve your win rate with the OCI method—“Write Better. Write Faster. Win More.” OCI is a global professional services firm that offers a hybrid learning approach to training and certifying proposal professionals. They offer corporate training, self-paced on-demand training, live online courses, boot camps, and workshops. (5)
Work environments: The criticality of psychological safety
The bid process can certainly create a high-stress environment across multiple teams within a corporation. When the success of your company rests on a contract award, team members may feel heightened pressure to work extra hours and create a culture that is fixated on earnings and performance.
Taking a look and auditing in-house systems and technologies that add more to people’s workload or increase redundant efforts is extremely important.
It is up to you to create a healthy work culture that emphasizes balance over budget. Ask yourself, are there areas that we can improve to help ease the stress of getting another proposal out the door? Valuing a work-life balance should be your organization’s top priority to ensure work performance and retention of valuable team members. (4)
Technology: The tools your team needs for speed
Successful government contractors build proven and repeatable pricing models to keep a competitive edge in the price-to-win process. Implementing user-friendly software across multiple departments is essential for collaboration, feedback, reviews, and awards.
The ProPricer Contractor Edition helps industry proposal teams and government acquisition professionals prepare for negotiations together, to create an efficient and successful bid process. Get your team on the same page. Sign up here for a free demo of the rapid and precise ProPricer Contractor Edition.
- Bid Solutions: Take the Bid Lifecycle Challenge
- QuoruseBook: Building an Effective Bid Team
- McKinsey Study: Diversity Matters
- Frontiers in Psychology Article: How Psychological Safety Affects Team Performance
- Write Better. Write Faster. Win More.
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