Sophie Moench August 17, 2021 Proposal
Requests for proposals (RFP). Although your firm or department over the years may have developed a format for preparation of bids and proposals, it is sometimes necessary that you adapt your design. Requests for proposals (RFP) issued by large corporations or governmental agencies often require that each proposal conform to their very specific formats.
Cover letter. Because it tells your understanding of the project and states that you are the right person, department, or company to do the job, the cover letter is the most important element of the proposal; it is also the very last item to prepare before you make your presentation. Keep it short, no more than one page. State the problem in a sentence or two and tell what you intend to do about it. Do not forget to express your appreciation for the opportunity to submit your proposal.
Watch your language. Nothing kills proposals faster than poor or careless writing. No matter how impressive your technical knowledge, familiarity with the field, or track record, a sloppily prepared proposal can doom your chances for success. Thoughtless and incomplete preparation or an untidy printed proposal reflects negatively on your ability to do the job, suggesting that you may be equally neglectful in your work.
Because the plan portion represents the meat of your proposal, it should summarize your strategy clearly and include time lines, opportunities for feedback, and provisions both for periodic evaluations and measurement of the end result. Two-way communications are extremely important to the success of most projects and, for that reason, should be built into each procedure and objective. Routine reports and approvals, explicitly provided for within your proposal, will help keep communications open and allay possible concerns during the course of the project. If your project must conform to regulatory standards, tell exactly how tests and verifications will occur. And if time or other constraints are prescribed by outside parties, describe the process you will use to satisfy those requirements.
Every word processing system includes a spell checker; it is there to be used. But do not depend upon it exclusively; proofread your work before submitting it. The best way to do that is to allow the proposal to sit for a day or two and then to read it aloud. You might also want to ask an associate to go over it before you make your presentation.
Keep it simple. Use good quality paper stock-something with a high rag content has the best feel-and avoid colored papers. Rather than highlight, they tend to distract. Stick to eight point five x eleven size and fold flow charts, schematics, organizational charts, graphs, and other illustrations within the proposal itself. Larger sheets are difficult to file and quickly become dog-eared, a tattered appearance that will make your entire proposal look bad. If you are using large plans and drawings, list them as coded illustrations within the text of your proposal and submit them as separate exhibits.
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