I recently responded to post on the Pragmatech “Listserv” (for those of you who may not be aware of this forum, it is a great ‘meeting place’, useful for exchanging ideas with fellow proposal professionals and highly recommended).
The question I responded to was ‘How do I find time to develop content for the knowledge when can’t even keep up with the RFPs I’m working on already?’
In my opinion, your question deals with symptoms rather than the core/real problem. That is, it seems to me that the real problem here is your not having a clear definition of the available capacity (what the group – in this case just you – can do each day, week, month, year). The second component of the problem, and I’m making an assumption here, is not knowing or having a view to the demand (what is required). Then add to this the need for other projects’ such as knowledge base development, etc. and very quickly you are, to use your term, ‘buried’.
What is needed here is for you to clearly define (and understand) what can be done with the current (finite) resources available. The equation for this is relatively simple as you say you ARE the proposal group (the same considerations apply to a group with more than one person).
How many hours are available? (And you need to be realistic/honest here. How many hours do you have available?) Take total hours you are contracted to work (typically between 40-50), subtract sick time, vacation time, training time, meeting time, other projects time (if any) etc. Typically, this will work out to around – 20-30 hours a week and between 44-48 weeks a year or approx. 1380 total hours available (if we use 30 hours X 46 weeks.)
Yep – that’s right. It’s MUCH less than 52 X 40 or 2080 as some less informed managers tend to think. Important to note. This is based on working a full week, but NOT defining a plan that calls for overly long hours, working weekends, etc. As many have heard me state time and time again, “It amazes me that proposal people seem to think the only way to do proposals is in crisis mode and working to unreasonable/unpredictable schedules. This just IS NOT true and should NOT be part of your plan.”
Next step – How long does the typical proposal effort take? Here too, be honest. Base this number on what you SHOULD be doing, not what you do when you ‘rush one out the door’. Figure in time for pre-proposal work, qualification, planning, strategy development, content design and development, document management, reviews and approvals, production and post-proposal activities (learning reviews, etc.) So, as an example, let’s say an effort takes 10 hours. Well, based on the calculation above, you should be able to produce 138 proposals.
This then defines your ‘Capacity’. You then need to look at demand. How many proposals does the company expect/need to submit? Here too – a simple equation. Total quota divided by $ value of typical ‘win’. Calculated against ‘Win Rate’. So, if you need to make $500K, and each deal is worth $50k, you need to win 10 deals. If your win rate is 1 in 5, you need to submit 50 proposals.
That will give you a ‘realistic’ view of what you can and can’t do. And REAL important to bear in mind here – this is strictly the time required for developing proposals. It doesn’t include time for ‘projects’ such as developing or maintaining a knowledge base, developing processes, training, etc.
So, there you have it. Hope that helps and please feel free to call my way if/as you wish to discuss this further (I’m always happy to discuss ‘all things proposals’ as most any within the proposal community can tell you.)’