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Measuring Proposal Quality While most organizations are talking about proposal quality improvement, not many actually

know how to define it leave aside how to measure it. It is believed that most of meeting to discuss about measuring quality of the proposal ends up in arguments rather than solution. In one of the senior management review I was asked how will you ensure the quality of proposal and improve it. I tempted to response in usual way that we can ensure that it is reviewed properly has standard content with our strong value proposition. Another way is to ensure that it is written by the people who have done this before and can write good proposals. Yet another way is to get feedback from people (especially sales folks) to rate the delivered proposal quality. However most of the above are more subjective way to measure the quality. I realized that in order to actually measure the proposal quality we first need to define what a quality proposal is. I tried looking over the web, read through articles and also used social media to do a collective brainstorming by posting a question. The response I got was more of tips on what should be or what should not be written in a proposal, how it looks etc and various other characteristics of a good proposal. I am sure all of these contribute to the quality but still there was no single answer on measuring quality. I needed to be able to create a framework by which I could objectively measure the quality of each proposal unambiguously. There is one school of thought who says that if it wins it s a quality proposal, another says if it is written by people who are supposed to know it is a quality proposal, and then there is third view which believes that anything which has followed the process of proposal creation is a quality proposal. After the research and classifying various inputs I believe that a framework which attempts to measure the quality of proposal should do so along the three C dimension of Compliance, Content and Communication. Compliance: This is most important factor and the degree of compliance can be measured. The best practices says that in case client wants you to follow a particular order while responding the RFP it is best given in the same order with almost no change in the structure of the response format. The typical pitfall in such cases is to create our own format and then providing the RFP compliance matrix. This should be avoided unless backed up by very strong reasoning. In order to measure this, just think from the evaluator s point of view if she is comparing 5 responses how she will give marks unless she can compare without much difficulty. A score can be given as degree of compliance with customer s requirement. Another important aspect of the compliance is the internal process compliance. In case organization has created a workflow and review checkpoints whether that was adhered to? Items RFP compliance Internal Process Compliance Remarks Is the document structure as per customer requirements? Is document gone through required review or followed the workflow as needed. Ratings 0-1 0-1

Content: This is the soul of the proposal and actually provide the best technical solution and addresses the basic questions of What, How, Where, When we will do it? Followed by why only we should be doing it. Quality can be assessed by looking at Remarks Does it answer what we will do? How & where will we do it? How much time will it take? Why should we be doing this? Rating 0-1 0-1 0-1 1-5

Items Technical solution Execution approach Estimation Value, Benefits and Differentiators Commercials

Is it competitive and also ensures 1-5 required margin for the organization? Is the risk adequately assesses and addressed 1-5

Risk

Communication: The communication quality can be checked along two parameters, the first one being how well is the articulation which includes structuring of facts in a way that it clearly communicates the message with less of jargons and bull words. This can be checked by doing what most people term as so what? test. Each statement which is written to persuade the customer should pass this test. For example Geometric is a SEI CMM level 5 company so what? This can further be told in a way that it answers the so what. The example Geometric is a SEI CMM level 5 companies which will ensure that our deliverables pass through the stringent quality tests and customer do not get unpleasant surprise. Use less of the superlatives, superlatives are pass it is always important to substantiate and quantify your claims wherever possible. Another aspect of communication is more tangible one and while most would argue to put this in compliance part, I believe it should be part of communication and this is about checking the medium of communication itself, is your language correct? Is documentation quality good in terms of look and feel and overall consistencies in style and fonts? At the end of day this becomes part of implied communication about your organization s brand, image and professionalism. Communication can be scored with a red team review which can question this by reading the executive summary itself. If your executive summary can pass the so what test half the battle is won.

Items Executive Summary Language Style, Formatting & look and feel

Remarks Does it pass the so what test? Is it clear and consistent? Is it corporate standard and consistent?

Rating 0-1 0-1 0-1