Winning the Business

Channeling APMP Certification Best Practices

Expect the unexpected on your invaluable certification journey

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I thought I knew what would happen after I signed up for the APMP-Foundation Level Certification class and exam at Bid & Proposal Con 2018. My plan was to study, take the class, and pass the test (fingers crossed)—like I had done some many times over the course of my schooling.

That’s exactly what happened.

But what came next surprised me. I didn’t forget what I had learned days or weeks later, as I had after so many previous exams. Instead, I sprang into action.

Now, if anyone has questions about the way I manage a proposal, I call in best practices.

Backed by Best Practices

When I returned from Bid & Proposal Con to my proposal writing job, I didn’t just move on. How could I? Not only had I earned “CF APMP” after my name because I passed the test, but now I had best practices, and I wasn’t afraid to use them.

“Why are you structuring the proposal this way?” a subject matter expert asked recently. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“I agree that it doesn’t seem logical,” I replied. “But it’s best practice to follow the order and heading scheme of the bid request.”

Although I’m one on a small team of three, I felt as if I had an army of experts to back me up.

I began working with the sales team to develop thorough, thoughtful executive summaries that were less about us and more about the customer. I focused on incorporating win themes throughout my proposals. I better managed internal schedules to allow time for reviews and production.

Now, if anyone has questions about the way I manage a proposal, I call in best practices.

Equipped for Action

Beyond best practices, I knew the importance of APMP’s tools and templates online. But how would they work in my organization?

I soon discovered these tools played the role of enforcer. They held the opportunity team accountable. The tools forced us to plan before we wrote and kept us in line.

A fully developed compliance matrix allowed our cross-functional team to more efficiently and effectively prepare strategies for responses at kick-off meetings. The action item tracking matrix clearly communicated roles and internal deadlines. Content outlines helped us identify win themes as well as potential gaps in our strategies and assignments.

While these tools can be time-consuming to prepare, they’ve made our jobs easier closer to deadline. More importantly, they’ve made our final proposals stronger.

Our proposal development process has improved because we’ve gotten buy-in from the company.

We’ve Got Company

The line “We’ve got company” usually signals the bad guys have arrived to fight back. While my colleagues are far from being “bad guys,” I expected some of them to at least question the new tools or processes.

As it turns out, I’ve seen too many action movies. There has been no such drama.

In fact, some best practices have become common practices in a matter of months. Our proposal development process has improved because we’ve gotten buy-in from the company.

To Be Continued

Adopting, adapting, and aligning all these best practices takes time. That comes as no surprise.

With support of our company’s leadership, our proposal team will participate in a weeklong process-improvement session this fall. We hope to tackle the tough “go, no-go” decision-making process and find ways to increase accountability, consistency, and efficiency. Simply put, we want to win more.

My action-packed journey continues long after the test.

Meghan Palumbo, CF APMP, is a Rochester, New York-based proposal writer for technology provider EagleView. She can be reached at

So, you have APMP Foundation-Level Certification. Now what?

  1. Use your new knowledge (and power) to confidently and efficiently manage your proposal team and bid response.
  2. Access APMP’s tools and templates to help you plan and hold your team accountable.
  3. Collaborate with internal teams and company leadership to adapt and improve business development and proposal processes across the organization. (Note: This takes time.)



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