Proposal Costing

From the project plan, from the analysis, and from your normal information on cost of sales, direct costs, and G&A costs you can see what it will cost for you to perform on this project. Add your normal gross margin calculations and you're done.

Well, no you're not. First you must consider if your price is competitive. If there is a published budget, is your price within that budget? If there isn't a published budget in the RFP, can you make an educated guesstimate as to what the budget might be?

Now, you must now prepare your cost proposal in the format required. This can often be quite difficult; especially if your normal manner of costing doesn't match that which the customer is requesting. That should also be a consideration in considering if your proposal truly matches the customer expectations.

Finally, you must consider the contractual type & payment terms. Are they specified - perhaps in ancillary information, such as a contract sample? Are they in any way flexible, and can you use that to assure a competitive advantage? Are you confident enough in your understanding of the customer and the scope of work to offer a firm fixed price? Or are there other alternatives to Time & Expense, such as CPIF?

Proposal Project Plan

The next step in responding to an RFP is to, at the least, outline a project plan and schedule. In some cases, such as the current proposal we're writing, a project plan is required. In all cases, 'tis a good idea.

You might not be able to go down to the level of detail or granularity that you would normally do, either because of lack of information or lack of time. And I guarantee that the plan and schedule in the proposal will not be the project plan submitted as a deliverable during the project. You'll uncover things in the first few weeks (what we deem as the discovery stage in our 6D (TM) methodology) that will necessitate changes. However, you'll need the project plan and schedule to perform the next step: Costing.

BTW, by "project plan", I'm not talking about just a microsoft project plan, and by "project schedule" I'm not talking about just a GANTT chart - or any other tools you may use. I mean a document that covers the main activities, and the tasks to support them, as well as lines of communication, project organization, risk management, escalation of issues, project evaluation (e.g. scorecards) and other such project management and project assurance topics.

Proposal Writing

Now that we have our strawman, we can procede to comparing the requirements in the analysis to our draft. Historical material will be compared to individual requirements and our SWOT assessment with appropriate editing, and new material will be written. The result will be very specific to the requirements, specifications and LANGUAGE of the RFP.

That last is very important. It is vital that the customer understand our proposal. In addition, we will define how we will go beyond the guidelines of the RFP. We sill determine if any of our collaborative tools, such as ServiceCycle, the TeleInterActive Press [based on b2evolution and phpESP], a project Wiki or other electronic content management system and project repository will be of true value to the project.

The goal is to show that we understand all requirements and will comply with them, and that our proposed solution is the most cost effective and valuable solution presented.

Damned Psycho Customers

Michael Pollock's blog: "Damned Psycho Customers" provides good insights. Having been in technical customer support in one point of my career, I lament the slow death of good support over the years. I admit, I have been one of those who have been in the verge of being the "Psycho Customer". It is sometimes a test of patience to talk to a customer representative. I have had trouble tickets that kept on being closed, even if they have not been resolved because the offshore customer support representatives were being evaluated by the number of cases they close. I agree with the study in the article that "on average, twice as many people are told about a bad experience than they are about a good experience." People need to vent :lalala:

An old issue of the CIO Magazine had an article on How to Build Customer Loyalty in an Internet World. Loyalty metrics were mentioned for CIOs to consider: (1) Tracking repeat customers instead of just asking customers to fill up Survey Forms and (2)Loyalty Acid Test, "which asks customers whether a company is worthy of their loyalty".

Proposal Format

The next step, after the analysis is complete, is to define the strategic approach for the proposal and outline it using both any format required by the RFP, as well as modifying our proposal templates to fit the recommended table of contents. This allows us to quickly build a "strawman" of the proposal: a fat outline with much of the conent drafted and ready for modification.

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The TeleInterActive Press is a collection of blogs by Clarise Z. Doval Santos and Joseph A. di Paolantonio, covering the Internet of Things, Data Management and Analytics, and other topics for business and pleasure. 37.540686772871 -122.516149406889

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