A Proposal Manager’s Scarcest Resource
Managing multiple and conflicting job requirements are the daily normal for a business striving to stand out above its competition and consistently win. The hunger to succeed becomes the driving force to do more and more and more. We are now in the Government’s fiscal year fourth quarter – the most intense for publishing requirements and thus the busiest for contractor’s preparing proposals.
In this intense proposal season individual and team attention is your scarcest resource.
How can a Proposal Manager maximize the precious attention of the proposal team?
1 – Be Virtual – Run the proposal as virtually as possible, especially in the early stages. The desire to have face-to-face engagements is very strong because early team building is an essential. However, it’s expensive and a major time-suck. Time spent getting the team to be physically on site squanders precious attention, time and B&P dollars.
2- Planning – Organize standups and meeting agendas now, with specific actions needing completion on a milestone basis only for the next week or two. Of course, the PM needs to plan out the full proposal timeline, but the PM’s most important function on the critical early path is focusing the team’s scarce attention and setting priorities for immediate actions. Providing material in advance with clear direction on non-negotiable actions and milestones helps keep the proposal team on track
Note: A serious “watch out”: Be judicious on information sharing – don’t “blow up” their inboxes with more information than they need – their attention will disappear into thin air like steam.
3- Time Management – Demonstrate discipline: start on time, finish on time. Effective and efficient meetings maximize scarce attention. An important early watch item for discipline: e-mails, especially team-wide e-mails, can be huge attention wasters – restraint on team-wide emails is a mandate; when information is put out, it must get the specific attention it deserves.
4- Lead by Example – always convey excitement and your commitment to win. Each team member will evaluate both your demeanor and competence.
- Emphasize individual contributions to team capability
- Be accessible – available for early issue resolution and decisions
- Know each team member’s strengths and weaknesses – be prepared for internal team conflicts and always present the “high ground” when resolving conflicts: the proposal is a must win, every team member is critical and all are on a very specific timeline
- Avoid the tendency of continually getting into all the details describing every step along the way to proposal submission
5 – Be Decisive – Eventually a “burning issue” will happen. When it does, take immediate action. Listen, assess and decide – make sure each team member understands the resolution.
Your attention can be scarce also, your most important task in the beginning is to show your total commitment to a winning proposal.