What do Star Wars and Proposal Resourcing Have in Common?

What do Star Wars and Proposal Resourcing Have in Common?

I won’t keep you in suspense; the epic space opera and proposal resourcing have a common theme: fantasy.

In our twenty plus years of working in the bids and proposals industry we have observed organisations following the same three steps in resourcing their proposals:

Step One

An opportunity comes along and in many cases a budget has to be put together for approval before the pursuit can begin. And most of that budget will constitute people overhead (a topic for another day is the ever shrinking travel budget for bids). So, the process starts with identifying people for the bid team and that seems sensible enough.

Step Two

The Responsibility Matrix (RM) is raised. And this is often where things start to go awry. The RM is predominantly made up of tasks for Authors or Subject Matter Experts that relate to the proposal. The first challenge is the level of detail documented in the RM about the Response Requirements. Our observation is that organisations present this information at a high level and rarely present the Response Requirements in granular form. Why? Probably because to do so could be seen as taking too much time. It makes sense really because the clock is ticking and understanding what the Response Requirement effort influences your level of resourcing. The second challenge is that there is a propensity to assign responsibility over groups of responses to a single person and therefore only have visibility of ownership of responses by group.

Step Three

This is where the fantasy part comes in: allocation of names against Response Requirements. There are a number of ways that this can go wrong but the principle one is putting any name in a box. Fantasy resourcing; it’s a real thing. It’s generally typified by a name being put forward as a possibility which becomes an actuality without a second’s thought. What’s missing is checking availability, competence, willingness. What could go wrong?

Fantasy Resourcing: The Risks
  1. The organisation thinks proposal development s is resourced and it isn’t. And there are no indicators to say it isn’t: detectability is poor – impact is high
  2. There is an assumption that the people with their name in a box have allocated the detailed effort below their wrap up line item effectively (or at all) when in fact they haven’t: detectability is poor – impact is high
  3. The finite time available to produce a quality proposal is eroded before the organisation realises that many Response Requirements have no owners – the bid is being run by a ghost RM and yes, detectability is poor – impact is high

And as Yoda would say: ‘That is why you fail’

Quick Fixes

Produce a Responsibility Matrix that details Response Requirements individually – not in roll up groups or sections. And we support bids with over 5000 Response Requirements and we do it because history tells us the effort is worth it.

Don’t outsource responsibility for proposal development to tower SMEs or Authors. It is fine to collaborate but someone has to be accountable for ensuring that work is being done on the proposal.

Take time to check that the names in the RM are the right people: available, competent and willingness.

‘Do. Or do not. There is no try’

Some definitions

Download this very useful guide on Bid Metrics definitions!