If you want winning proposals, you need to make wise strategic use of three key members on your federal contract team. We call them the “triumvirate of managers.” You know them as the program manager, the proposal manager, and the capture manager. This month, Alaris launches a three-part series that reveals how each manager plays a crucial role in more federal contract wins.

Proposal Pointer #1: Integrate Your Program Manager Right Away!

Our first piece of advice may strike you as premature and too expensive. But our experience with successful bids confirms it time and again:

The project manager is an essential participant from day one.

After a successful bid, your program manager (PM) carries the burden of contract execution. This accomplished professional is a treasure trove of knowledge and experience. It will cost more to involve the PM early on in the bidding process, but the investment is well worth it.

Here’s why:

Small businesses with limited resources face a significant challenge when putting together a winning proposal and executable contract. Both are typically complex documents that demand a broad skill set. A winning bid often requires expertise in many or all of the following, and more:

pricing, accounting, program management, marketing, technical expertise, security, information technology, human resources, sub-contractor management, manufacturing, engineering, export regulations, and foreign laws

Your best strategy for a competitive response is to draw on team members’ expertise for a collaborative effort. This includes identification and integration of the PM early in the process. You project manager should participate in opportunity identification, proposal/bid development, and–of course–contract execution.

Alaris Proposal Pointers

Cost, schedule, and performance: Your PM is the expert.

Harnessing the PM’s project proficiencies is a critical component of success.

Your reputation as a federal contractor rests on how well you deliver what you promise. Once your proposal wins, you must meet cost, schedule, and performance measures. Your PM is responsible for executing those contractual obligations. You set yourself up for success when you work with the project manager right from the beginning to build realistic, competitive criteria into your proposal.

Cost: Your proposal must balance a competitive price with workforce and other costs, plus profit. Since the PM has the responsibility to keep costs under control, he or she should have a key vote in determining your bid price. If the PM believes the price will interfere with contract execution, then pricing should be reestablished at a level he or she regards as viable. The consequences of poor contract execution are severe for your reputation, your business finances, and your future in the federal market.

Schedule: The PM bears day-to-day responsibility for meeting contractual deadlines. The project manager can help develop delivery schedules for your proposal that are consistent with government requirements. The PM can also ensure that your schedule allows adequate delivery time consistent with best risk management practices.

Performance: The PM, in collaboration with the capture manager and proposal manager, has the expertise to evaluate your proposal’s value proposition and win themes. Are these key messages relevant to the customer? Is your PM confident that he or she can implement the proposed technical and managerial solutions consistent with the value statement? Your firm must be able to provide the benefits you have sold to your government customer. The PM can give a definitive answer about what you can deliver and what performance standards you can meet. In the end, the PM owns the solution.

Your 3-step action plan:

  1. Integrate your PM early on, starting with opportunity development.
  2. Build the triumvirate of managers – program, proposal, capture – into a well-integrated team that develops the opportunity, delivers a winning proposal, and successfully executes all contract requirements.
  3. Use the PM’s professional input to ensure your value proposition and win themes guide achievable, professional, and successful technical/managerial solutions.

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