Now this is what I call southern hospitality. Bamboo shoot and pineapple pizza… yum!
Hey ya’ll! (as they say down south)
I’ve just been to Columbia, South Carolina to visit with Ruth Turman at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (they’re an insurance company).
Over lunch Ruth explained that nearly all the proposal work her team does is for one of their company’s subsidiaries. That subsidiary is actually a technology company. And most of the subsidiary’s staff work in Dallas, Texas. That means almost all of their proposals require virtual proposal team management.
Things were a little quiet in Columbia while I was there so I helped out with some of the housekeeping chores that all well-oiled proposal centers need to do to continue to run smoothly.
Thank you, but no, pandas don’t care for boiled peanuts. I will, however, have another slice of this pizza.
Here I am with my new buddy, RFP Raccoon. He thinks we might be distantly related (there is a somewhat alarming resemblance; here around the eyes). He insists he was born in China, but his tag says he was made for a California company. Maybe very distant cousins… Several times removed… On my mother’s side of the family…
Raccoon helped me understand the history and evolution of the subsidiary he and Ruth support by showing me one of the documents from their hard-copy archive. Seems it all started with a proposal to run something called an Enterprise Data Center for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Can you believe what they ask for in these government solicitations?
They wanted how many copies of this? Okay, so 8 copies of 1375 pages; that’s… that’s… Panda’s don’t have that many fingers!
No wonder those of us who work on proposals are prone to dark circles under our eyes.
Next, I wanted to get the remote staff’s take on the proposal process in a virtual environment. Armed with half a pot of coffee and Raccoon’s support, the conversation went something like this:
ME: “Can you hear me now?”
ME: “I said ‘We want to win’ does NOT constitute a strategy statement!”
ME: “Yes, I’m sure you do. Your customer, on the other hand, is thinking ‘So what?’ Why do they care if you want to win? What’s in this for them? You need to do your homework! What are their hot buttons? What causes them pain? What can you do for them to eliminate that pain? Come on, you can do this! You told me no one knows your customer better than you do…”
* * M U T E * *
ME: “Would someone please pass the aspirin? And the Tums.” (I had wondered why there was a large but half empty bottle of Tums on the conference table.)
After a very full day, we were in need of a little relaxation. The latest issue of Journal of the Association of Proposal Management had arrived and Colleen Jolly’s article, “Yoga for Proposal Professionals” seemed like just the ticket.
Raccoon was thrilled about this because from day one his mantra has been “I am the raccoon… I am one with the forest…” And Ruth has been trying for four years to get in touch with her inner raccoon (with only intermittent success).
Ruth had to contend with some corporate documentation, but Raccoon and I found ourselves some mats and attempted Colleen’s FedEx Salutation.
Is it just me or does Raccoon’s Where’s My Stapler? pose look exactly like his Is the Toner Low? pose?
Turns out the proposal center has a somewhat infamous reputation for their highly detailed proposal production logistics and other mission critical tasks like maintaining the proposal center and its equipment.
As a professional Proposal Panda, I know that no task is too insignificant or beneath my dignity and I’m willing to help out when and wherever I’m needed.
On this particular day it was time to swap out the toner cartridges in the color printer. It’s a potentially messy job, but someone has to do these things.
(Don’t worry Jon, they put gloves, an apron and a mask on me before the really dirty work began.)
Did you know there are such things as box subject matter experts in proposal management? Neither did I. But another proposal team in the company called us and wanted to know how many binders would fit in a box.
Proposal professionals believe in sharing best practices so we helped out by asking some probing questions:
How big is the box?
How big are the binders?
How much paper will be in those binders?
How are you planning on getting the box from point A to point B?
At any point will the boxes need to be sent through x-ray equipment or manually inspected?
Turns out it wasn’t such a simple question after all so I volunteered to take some first hand measurements for the calculations.
So how many binders will fit in a box?
Life’s too short to not love your job and to have a good time doing it.
In my professional opinion, all proposal professionals should take time to stop and play in the bubble wrap.
As all of you know, the gang at Strategic Proposals (BJ and Jon in particular) strongly supports APMP’s accreditation program.
I was able to take advantage of some quiet time during my visit to coach Raccoon (my very first student!) on some of the knowledge areas he’ll need to be familiar with when he takes his Foundation Level exam.
Naturally there are some areas of proposal management that he’s not as familiar with as he is others (Raccoon’s not so good with a calculator, so he doesn’t get involved in pricing proposals), but I feel confident that he will do well.
Hmmm, knowledge is power. Raccoon and I are really looking forward to the upcoming Annual Conference of APMP.
Old friends to see… New friends to make…
Vendors to talk to… APMP business to attend to…
Ideas to share… Things to learn…
Wonder what BJ and Jon are planning to do this year? (I know, but I can’t tell!)
So many great sessions; so little time…
Now this is fun…
Are you sure you know how to drive this thing?
Ouch! Watch out for the paper shredder.
Don’t make me come back there…
I think the airport is the other direction. Left! Your other left!
What do you mean ‘your other hand truck is equipped with GPS?!?!?!?!’
Hey! Don’t EVEN think about sticking one of your shipping labels on me! Jon and BJ promised me I’d be flying first class to Virginia for my visit with Ali at Leonie Industries.