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8 Ways to Build a Better Construction Proposal

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Jacob Cooper



5 min

Advice and tips in this article are primarily aimed at our American readers.   

You need to optimize your proposal process to give yourself the best chance of success. A few simple changes will save your team valuable time – time you can invest in producing the quality that evaluators crave.

Proposals are stressful, especially when they’re two-stage tenders (as highway construction proposals often are). We’ve compiled some expert tips that will help you tackle common construction proposal management challenges and get you that award.

The Planning Phase: Measure Twice, Cut Once

It's much easier to fix things in cyberspace than in real life – you can't just hit delete if you pour concrete on uneven ground, or if a worker gets hurt. That's why extensive planning is so important for a solid construction bid. So how can you speed up planning without losing any accuracy?

1. Set a Strong Foundation by Reusing Trusted Materials

Your proposal needs to satisfy a raft of compliance standards for engineering, construction and quality, not to mention health, safety and environmental regulations. Don't reinvent the wheel for every job. With the right software, you can reuse files from similar projects and update them to reflect your current bid.

Powerful proposal management software can help you recycle those materials efficiently. These platforms should have a content library of past materials, from health and safety documentation to soil sampling or weather templates. Streamline your methodology for regulatory evidence by including or updating relevant files from past projects.

Similarly, you can draw on pre-built resumes to beef up your proposal. If key members of your team have resumes that reflect experience on highway construction rather than commercial building, you can include those files from a library of resumes. Rather than going back and forth with HR or individual team members, you can simply manage all resumes directly and build your proposal around predefined files.

2. Use Workflows as a Blueprint to Guide Proposal Construction

You'll need a different structure for your proposal depending on the type of bid. If you're vying for a federal or state A/E contract, for example, you'll need to include pieces like Standard Form 330. You might also face different labor laws across locations, different site conditions, bonding and insurance requirements, on-site safety requirements... There are a myriad of steps you need to follow.

To save time and avoid missing steps, set up a workflow for proposal types or the needs of your team. With workflows, you can establish a customized process within proposal management software that will keep your project on track.

3. Choose a Software that Works for Your Entire Crew

Centralize your team and optimize your collaboration with proposal management software: web calendaring, task management, increased oversight, automated workflows and secure collaboration capabilities are integrated right into your project. It's the best of both worlds, with content management for flexible reusability and time management for keeping your team in sync and on track. 

This is especially true in construction, where teams are often geographically dispersed and balancing quality with speed is essential.

The Drafting Phase

4. Bring in All the Teammates and Experts You Need

Construction work is all about people, and that starts with the proposal. You may design and manage the highway construction project, for example, but it'll take a village to deliver it on time and on budget. Chances are you'll need to subcontract for everything from heavy equipment operators to raw materials to traffic maintenance staff, with potentially over 20 companies involved. Each contributor will have specific information and knowledge to include in the proposal.

This means that your in-house team needs to write, review and revise content in concert with all of your partners. Make sure that you choose a solution that enables your team to work together on the proposal with ease. For smaller teams, a high level of collaboration is essential. Evaluators want to see that you're as price-competitive and integrated as larger "one-stop-shop" solutions.

Everyone – project managers, partners, equipment, materials, excavation, health and safety advisors, price analysts – should be able to contribute to the proposal. You also need to involve supply chain managers and account for strategies like Just In Time delivery (JIT). 


The best way to handle all these complicated needs is with a solution made for large teams with different needs, like proposal management software.

For instance, curated editing allows contributors to have different levels of access to specific documents. That way, the relevant experts can contribute their knowledge without accidentally removing significant legal language or changing a document they're not involved with. Analysts can model pricing with labor, resource planning, OEM pricing, land space construction aim and more in full collaboration with all stakeholders and companies right in the project and update documents as that information comes in.

Construction is a team sport. Set your team up for success by involving everyone you need with the right level of access. Keep everyone safe and on track with all the expertise you need, and build the strongest possible proposal for each job.

5. Protect Your Bid Details from Competitors

Email and free file-sharing tools are a popular go-to, but they're insecure and inefficient. How many times has an important detail or update been lost in an inbox? More importantly, emails can easily go astray and are unprotected from malicious actors. Proposal management software not only protects your files, it also enables secure communication within a project, so that messages are never lost – and only the right people see them.

6. Keep Your Toolbelt Stocked by Using a File-Agnostic Platform

In construction proposals, you need more than spreadsheets and word documents. You need images, technical drawings, architectural plans, CGI, animated images and maybe even VR. 

Make sure that your proposal software is file-agnostic, which means that it can host any and all file types without converting or mangling them – so you can view, edit and comment on any type of file with ease.

The Revision Phase and Beyond: Polish it Up

7. Revise Your Proposal as a Cohesive Unit

When your software enables full collaboration, those benefits extend to every phase of proposal creation. A well-built commenting tool, for instance, allows external experts to provide guidance without making direct changes on the document or designs themselves. 

You can also loop in internal evaluators to determine whether your proposal fully captures the benefits of your organization and solution. All of your subcontractors and in-house team members can review and revise together without roadblocks – which is essential when every individual has specific expertise and every subcontractor needs to confirm their own labor and overhead costs.

8. Nail the Interview, Too

You can adapt the right software for all of your proposal needs – not just the proposal itself. For larger or more complex projects, you might face a tender presentation or a client validation visit to your premises. You'll need to have all of your documents and evidence on hand, from an in-depth design analysis to cost summary to key resumes. Client advisors and experts will want to examine your content at need. Management software organizes all of your files into a project database, so you can call up whatever you need at a moment's notice.

The Right Tools in Your Toolbelt

Your proposals should give your evaluator a clear road map – page by page, graphic by graphic – straight to you. In other words, you want to guide the evaluator to the inevitable conclusion that your team has the best solution. The best way to do that is with proposal management software that you can tailor to the needs of construction and optimize your planning, drafting, collaboration and revision process.


Author picture

Jacob Cooper

Our Business Development Manager Jacob was previously an associate partner at one of the largest Consultancy Houses focused on Innovation Funding within Europe. He spent four years working with some of the UK's most innovative businesses from local farms to global manufacturers and household names. He has studied Law at Queen Mary University of London where he graduated with a First Class Honors. Beside work, Jacob loves to travel and experience new cultures, cooking throughout lockdown became a bit of a passion, fine dining and basically anything that involves food!

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