5 Tips for Managing Tight Proposal Deadlines


Whether imposed by a government agency or forced by a last-minute decision to bid, most business development teams have come face-to-face with an anxiety-inducing deadline. The proposal lifecycle promoted by Shipley Associates includes seven full phases for successful proposal management. However, the proposal lifecycle can and oftentimes must be flexible to support tight deadlines. The following tips will help you and your proposal team manage a quick deadline without compromising the quality of your proposal submission.

Top Tips for a Quick Deadline

  1. Identify all major deadlines first. Proposal requirements often incorporate deadlines separate from the final submission date and time. Questions, letters of intent, and past performance questionnaires can also have associated due dates and, should you find an opportunity after some time has already passed since its initial release, you run the risk of missing the opportunity to submit these documents or get your questions answered. Before committing your team’s valuable time to a proposal, ensure that you can meet all the deadline requirements.
  2. Develop a strict timeline with task assignments. Once certain you can meet the major deadlines (as listed in tip #1), work on building a timeline that includes the more granular tasks. When your team has months to prepare for the submission of a proposal, it’s easier to be flexible on when things get accomplished. With a tight turnaround proposal, you’ll want to avoid an ambiguous timeline. Set a hard deadline for when drafts, forms, and reviews must be completed, and be sure to assign those tasks to specific individuals so that all expectations are clear.
  3. Maintain a frequently updated bid asset library. Having a bid asset library with common proposal resources like resumes, technical content, capability statements, and past performance can make those tight turnarounds far more manageable.
  4. Break up larger tasks into a handful of smaller tasks to allow for delegation. If you have one week to complete proposal submission, assigning one person to a large task (such as developing an entire technical approach) can make it difficult for that person to be successful. Instead, consider breaking that one task into a few subtasks and bringing in multiple Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to get it completed on time.
  5. Consider daily status calls/meetings. If your team has limited time until proposal submission, daily touchpoints can ensure everyone is staying on top of their assignments and nobody needs assistance. Additionally, it sets aside that time specifically for the active proposal. This avoids any difficulties there could have been finding a time in everyone’s schedules that would work for a spontaneous meeting.

Though successfully submitting a proposal with a short turnaround can be daunting, it can also be used to your advantage. JetCo has strategically used challenging timing to outpace our clients’ competitors. Following these five tips will give you a great starting point and help your team stay on track.

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