Ours is fast-moving profession. When I moved from procurement into proposal management back in 1999, there were relatively few written resources available to provide ideas or inspiration. Now? Well, I've seen three things so far this week - since returning to work after moving house - that each seem to contribute to developing what APMP calls the 'art and science' of proposals.
First came the excellent launch issue of "Bidding Quarterly", a new magazine from Bid Solutions. BJ and I first worked with Martin Smith, their managing director, over fifteen years ago. We count him as a good friend, as well as a valued colleague. "Hope is Not a Strategy" - downloadable as a PDF here - brings together articles on proposal strategy from their panel of industry experts. You'll find an article from me towards the back of the issue. (Hey, I've always liked having the last word!) .
Next up was an industry survey from the UK chapter of APMP, exploring the role of technology in bidding. It struck me completing it that we take so much IT for for granted. After all, when BJ started working on proposals, 'cut and paste' was quite literally 'cut and paste'. Systems play such a vital role for an effective proposal function, and done right do so much to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Yet I'm curious to see the findings of the survey, as technology can also be the cause of so much frustration. That library of outdated pre-written proposal content, which wastes more time than it saves and merely enables sales staff to issue poor proposals faster? That client portal, which inhibits bidders from presenting their solutions and telling their stories as professionally as they could? My own mobile phone, which repeatedly delights in refusing to tell me that I have voicemail messages accumulated over the week, until I sit down at home on Friday evening with a nice glass of red...
And last but not least came a new training prospectus from our colleagues in Strategic Proposals NL - their version of the UK syllabus that we unveiled last autumn. I'm not sure that many "Proposal Guys" readers speak Dutch - but it was a useful reminder of that proposal management really is an international profession these days, having evolved very rapidly from its anglophone roots.
So, here's the challenge: what have you read in the past few days that's provoked you to think differently about proposals, to ponder best practice, or to come up with new ideas? If we're not learning, we're falling behind the competition, and ours is a hugely competitive world.