Are you interested in finding new dedicated proposal managers to add expertise to your team? Then follow our lead by establishing a trainee program for Proposal Managers. Due to the rapid growth of our company, the Proposal Management team regularly faces the challenge of recruiting new employees. There is no study or education in Proposal Management, as this is a rare role in companies and qualitative applications do not meet the demand. In our company we hoped to receive significantly more applications via the trainee program. The trainee program is intended to provide the Proposal Management team with good access to junior employees.
The trainee program is directed at graduates of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration or a comparable course of study with, if applicable, initial experience in sales support or project management. During the program, trainees get an insight into the tasks of Proposal Management and are continuously strengthened and promoted in their skills. The core of the program is on-the-job training to provide in-depth work experience, supplemented by targeted learning units. In this way, the program combines theory and practice. You get to know the company structures, employees and processes, build and expand a network, and develop language and management skills.
The main goal at the end of the program is that a trainee is proficient in managing bid projects, has a high degree of service and sales orientation and basic IT knowledge.
Trainee program in detail
In developing the trainee program, it was important to consider what content and skills employees would need to learn in order to prove themselves as Junior Proposal Managers after the trainee program.
In Proposal Management, the proposal processes for potential new and existing customers are controlled and convincing sales documents are created. The trainee is supported in his activities by an experienced Proposal Manager (Mentor) and is gradually given more responsibility. A trainee plans and coordinates the various proposal phases, actively contributes communication and project management experience, and thus increases the quality and success of proposals.
The figure below provides an overview of the trainee program in theory. The one-year program is divided into four quarters, which can vary in length depending on the employee’s skills.
In the first quarter, basic knowledge about the company is imparted. In addition, the trainee gets to know the working environment, as well as the company’s particularities, first contacts, processes and workflows.
The first few days include getting to know the new working environment, introduction to the team members, initial basic training and proposal support.
After the foundations have been laid in the first phase the trainee enters the consolidation phase in the second quarter. Knowledge is consolidated through practical application and the network within the company is expanded to interface with other areas. In addition, the trainee brings ideas for quality improvement profitably into acquisitions and into the team. Furthermore, larger proposal processes and tenders are now also taken on with the support of the Mentor.
The last phase and thus the second half of the year promotes the training of management skills. The trainee is given more and more opportunities to initiate, plan, implement and control tasks responsibly and independently. This is followed up by Train the Trainee. In the last three months of the trainee program, the trainee passes on the knowledge to a new trainee and in this way conveys the necessary basics.
In order to challenge creativity and management skills, the trainee is expected to carry out their own internal project. The project should have an approximate duration of 6 months and be rounded off with a final presentation to the team. A project can be, for example, the research of new innovative proposal types. In this way, the trainee gets a real impression of the everyday project work of consultants and developers.
Moreover there are 12 to 15 trainings that are possible within the time frame. They are either technical or soft skill trainings.
After each quarter there is a review of the trainee’s progress with the Mentor. In this meeting the trainee’s success is reviewed using a checklist. In addition to the past, an outlook is given on the upcoming quarter with its tasks and goals. The meetings identify development potential and possible individualization.
After successfully passing the trainee program, they are hired as Junior Proposal Managers in the best case. As a Junior Proposal Manager, you can then reach higher career levels by taking on responsibility and further training. Within their first year of employment they also pass the Foundation APMP certification. In addition, as juniors they are usually also responsible for the proposals in their own business unit in the company, where they contribute their acquired communication skills and project management experience.
Results and added value for the company
The introduction of the trainee program has brought us an enormous increase in expertise to the team and we have been able to recruit more Proposal Managers to our team. Since we have introduced the trainee program 2 years ago, we have received 150 applications, of which one third were suitable candidates for the trainee position.
The following feedback was received from trainees who passed the program:
Enrico Goldschmidt: Junior Proposal Manager, adesso SE:
“The trainee program prepared me extremely well for daily work in Proposal Management. You get a general overview of the most diverse types of proposals and customer industries. The step-by-step build-up of knowledge and the introduction to best practices create the perfect basis for managing proposal situations independently after only a short time.“
Nico Langelage: Junior Proposal Manager, adesso SE
“The trainee program gives you the opportunity to gain an insight into all areas of Proposal Management. The extensive on-the-job training in the trainee program helped me to get a better understanding of processes and their backgrounds.”
In summary, due to a shortage of executives in the future, it is important for every company to recruit young talents at an early stage, for example through a trainee program.
According to the 2019 trainee survey by Trendence Institut GmbH, 59 percent of all trainees stay with the company for more than five years. This shows that trainees identify with the company and are loyal and consistent.
Especially as a proposal manager, it is important to have a good network and to know the company and its portfolio well. This is achieved in particular through a long period of employment with the company, which is often the case with trainee graduates as mentioned above.
Miriam Mannheim, Team Leader Proposal Management, adesso SE
After Miriam Mannheim studied technical Management and Marketing (B.Sc.) and Product and Asset Management (M.Sc.), she started working in November 2018 as a Proposal Manager at adesso SE. Since January 2022 she has been taking care of the trainees and the trainee program and since July 2022 she has been a team leader of a Proposal Management team. Moreover she is APMP Foundation certified.