BD tips and insights

By Alice Vuong

8 proposal hacks to save you time, money (and sanity)

July 16, 2014 | Posted in: Win Tenders Bids Proposals | Tags:

Putting together a compliant, persuasive and well-presented bid can be a daunting task, especially when you’re often in a race against the clock. We’ve put together proposal hacks that can help you and/or your business development team beat the tender blues.

Bids and proposals are often produced in-house using Microsoft Word, and many of our tips will help you get the most out of this relatively sophisticated software.

1. Save save save
Set your AutoRecover setting in Word to every 5 minutes or less. In addition to saving your files to your server and for extra peace of mind, manually back up your working documents to a second location such as your desktop or an external drive.

2. Dress for the occasion
Use precedents as a starting point but make sure you customise your proposal for the reader and the services being offered. Boilerplate responses are not good enough.

3. Create and use Word styles
Styles in Word are your best friend. With a few clicks you can change all the text you’ve applied a style, and easily find sections with the navigation pane. This is especially handy if you’re managing document with many pages.

4. Say no to fancy fonts and graphics
Use default Word fonts because you can never be sure how custom fonts will look when your document is opened on a different computer. Minimise your use of unnecessary graphics which can convey the wrong messages (images are highly subjective) and dramatically increase file size.

5. Track changes for different editors
Try to have only one person manage the master document. If the document has to go to a few people for review, make sure track changes is turned on in Word so you can quickly and easily identify edits.

6. Proof with fresh eyes
If possible, get someone who hasn’t been working on the proposal to read and proof the document. If this is not feasible, do your final read through first thing in the morning when you’re feeling fresh.

7. Set deadlines
Set strict internal deadlines for contributors to provide content and allow yourself enough time to compile and incorporate it into the proposal.

For softcopy submissions: set your ‘pens down’ deadline a full working day before the actual deadline. Spend the last day doing final proofing and preparing the document for upload or email. Upload your submission well in advance of the deadline to avoid ‘cyber traffic-jams’. Make sure you put a ‘read receipt’ request on email submissions.

For hardcopy submissions: allow sufficient time for print, production and delivery on top of proofing time and remember that it will always take longer than you think!

8. Outsource specific tasks
Be realistic about your internal capacity and capability and consider enlisting outside help for things like:

  • copy writing
  • print and production
  • project management.

Expert help will give your submission the winning edge.

Let us take the stress out of your next tender or proposal – enquire now.

Select articles

Feature article

Tender writing tips – Nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply

Tender writing tips – Nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply

Remember, nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply Albert Einstein was spot-on when he said “nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply”. Tenders, bids, proposals, and informal pitches for business are not times to show how clever and capable you are by using legalese (I’m looking at you lawyers), […]