Winning the Business

Faceoff: Two Perspectives of Proposal Management

In-house proposal managers vs. outside consultants

  • remove_red_eye599 views
  • comment0 comments

Which proposal manager can better facilitate an RFP response completion—the in-house proposal manager or the outside consultant? Consider a day in the life of both proposal leads to examine the factors at play.

The In-House Proposal Manager

Charles starts his day as a Global Tech proposal manager by reviewing 20 proposal support requests. He selects a proposal from the IT solutions department and contacts the requester: sales lead, Debra. Debra provides client and proposal team member information, and Charles coordinates a proposal kick-off meeting. Once he receives the RFP from Debra, Charles forwards it to the document specialist group in India. Within 24 hours, the team receives a Global Tech–branded proposal template customized to the RFP guidelines.

Charles reads the RFP and makes notes. He creates a proposal project plan, including important dates from the RFP, such as the bidder’s conference, bidder’s questions due, and response due. He also includes timelines for the Global Tech–required reviews: solution, legal, staffing, and pricing. He customizes the compliance matrix, proposal team instruction materials, and process flow chart and sends them along to Debra’s team. Global Tech’s proposal process dictates Charles’ steps. If the proposal team members meet their deadlines for each milestone, Charles will be able to submit the RFP two days before the due date.

The Outside Consultant

Project Kick-Off

Proposal consultant Linda meets with Steve, the project manager, at the project kick-off meeting with Specialty Tools. They discuss the expectations of her role, and Linda’s proposal questionnaire provides information about Specialty Tools, its current proposal process, and Big Oil Company’s anticipated RFP.

Linda creates a list of key players for each step of proposal creation. Steve admits his company has no documented proposal process and Specialty Tools has not won any business from past RFP responses. Linda suggests adding two days of consulting time after submitting the RFP response, to document the process used and to conduct a lessons-learned meeting.

The First Proposal Team Meeting

Linda meets with Steve and his team of four engineers. The six team members take 30 minutes to skim the 20-page RFP, released by Big Oil Company only two hours ago. The engineers jump to the technical requirements of the solution, while Linda focuses on the response guidelines and due dates. Linda uses these team meetings for collaboration and instruction. She facilitates discussion of the technical questions and assigns questions, and the team discusses its technical strategy. Linda takes notes and creates win themes. Afterward, she immediately starts working on a proposal plan, template, and compliance matrix.

The Verdict

Who manages the proposal more efficiently—Charles or Linda? That is a matter of perspective. These scenarios show an ideal kick-off for both proposal managers. For the next four weeks, Charles and Linda face the possibility of missed meetings and internal deadlines, changes to the RFP requirements, and additional proposals added to the workload. There are pros and cons with each scenario, but as a proposal lead, it is up to you to decide which method works best for your combination of players, your available timeline, and the RFP itself.

Maria Vivona is a proposal writer and senior technical writer consultant for Shea Writing and Training Solutions in Houston, Texas. Maria received Practitioner-level certification from APMP in 2012. She can be reached at


Get your process into tip-top shape with these ideas.
  • The APMP Body of Knowledge offers guidance in all aspects of proposal management, but consider it especially for process management.
  • Prepare and update proposal materials before the kick-off and follow-up meetings. Meetings might change direction, but proposal plans will help the team progress steadily to meet all deadlines.


Join the Conversation

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *