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How to Promote Team Accountability in the Proposal Process

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Cheryl Smith



6 min

What does accountability look like?

From an aerial view, accountability looks like hitting your proposal milestones and having access to the right information early on in the proposal creation process.

When accountability is upheld, your team will have the opportunity to hone a proposal rather than constantly circling back to fill in gaps and correct avoidable errors. Review team meetings will be used to improve and propel a proposal forward instead of attempting to compensate for lost time or account for missing information. In addition, an accountable team will be more confident in their ability to succeed and more empowered to do so.

At a more granular level, accountability means making sure that every person involved in a proposal has the resources, time, guidance and support they need to excel and deliver on their responsibilities. It's important to remember that accountability issues at any level of your organization can cause a chain reaction that impacts other team member's ability to succeed.

Who's involved in the proposal process?

A successful proposal process takes a village to accomplish. A proposal team often includes company executives (both internal and external), as well as subject matter experts (SMEs), who help with training and client support. Sales Reps understand the client relationship information and provide valuable information to win. A Project Manager defines the implementation approach and the Proposal Team Coordinator is responsible for formatting and production. The process can also include other individuals and hybrid roles.

In addition to the roles mentioned above, having designated proposal writers can help ensure that accountability is evenly distributed across your proposal team by allowing the writers to focus on draft execution and SMEs to provide necessary input and support without overburdening them.

Assigning roles and responsibilities

A Proposal Manager is responsible for conducting a proposal kickoff with the executive team and capture manager. At this meeting, they should go through each aspect of the compliance matrix and assign an accountable lead and secondary support role to every proposal section.

This proposal kickoff will help prepare the core team for leading a formal proposal kickoff meeting. At the kickoff, the new business lead and executive team will explain ownership and the proposal manager will enforce those assignment by provide guidance, denoting clear responsibilities and laying out delivery timelines. Between this initial kickoff and the first review meeting, section leads are responsible for identifying and communicating any solution gaps, missing resources or general concerns, so that execs and the proposal manager can address these problems upfront. In addition, by assigning section leads to this vital communication task early on, it forces them to read the RFP instead of relying on the compliance matrix or proposal template to guide their proposal creation efforts.

If section leads hear their role assignments from executives, it encourages a greater sense of ownership, authority and accountability. It should provide greater clarity with regard to project deliverables. Creating this direct line of communication between section leads and execs will allow section leads to provide feedback and ask for help early on in the process rather than waiting for a review meeting to touch base.

How collaboration tools can support team accountability

When it comes to actually writing a proposal, deciding the direction is the first step. It requires unifying your team behind a strategy and unanimously agreeing where the jumping off point is. Utilizing a platform to centralize and streamline team communication will facilitate that strategy agreement as well as clarifying team assignments to get the ball rolling with a strong push, where the whole team is onboard.

Keep that momentum up. No one wants to start writing from a blank page. They comb through their hard drives and backlogged emails to look for for something they've written on the subject before. In short, they seek out old material which may provide vital insight but likely has to be rewritten or repositioned to fit the latest bid.

With the help of a Proposal Management Platform, you can centralize your document storage and easily pull exactly what was submitted for a past bid and tweak it to fit the context of your current client. Having all of these resources available in a central location will allow writers to access the resources they need without tracking down different individuals or being at the mercy of others.

By conducting your kickoff meeting in an online platform, you'll keep all tasks and notes in a centralized location and simultaneously provide all section leads with access to templates, RFP updates and other helpful documents like win themes and differentiators. Instead of emailing these resources to each team member individually, leveraging a proposal platform will guarantee that everyone has access to the information they need and everyone's working from the most up-to-date version of a document.

When you create an online proposal workspace, you can standardize your resource folder structure and proposal process so everyone on your team knows where to find the information they need. In addition, when documents are updated by other team members, all participants will be alerted to the change via an automated email that allows recipients to navigate directly to the update within the platform.

Clear Schedule and Defined Roles

As with any large-scale project, it's important to clearly define responsibilities and timelines at the outset so that everyone involved understands what's expected of them at different junctions in the process. It's alright for roles to overlap, as long as the assigned party has the time and skill to tackle all that's involved with each role. For example, your checklist team will want to communicate closely with the pricing team to ensure that the priced services are part of the proposed solution. If you build dependencies and define responsibilities within your proposal calendar, it's easier to track progress to your end goal.

How can greater accountability empower your team?

Promoting accountability with an online platform isn't about scrutiny — it's about using document and process transparency to promote greater collaboration, encourage proactive solutions and reward ownership. If a Project Manager can see the work that's being done on a document, they can ask contributors to highlight areas where they're struggling. That way, the manager can take action to get the contributors the help, resources or support they need to keep moving forward. In addition, having a central interface will ensure version control and allow every user to leave comments and express their concerns without vying to be heard in a review meeting.

Giving your team the resources they need to own their accountability and get their responsibilities done on time will foster confidence for them to own their roles and empower them to produce even greater work. When your team is able to take control of their goals you can continue to hit the milestones you need, in order to propel the proposal forward, without losing time or missing any information.

In addition to leveraging the right resources, driving accountability involves reflecting on your efforts and so that you can improve and empower people better in the future. After you've finally submitted your bid, look back on your process and evaluate what went well and what could be reworked for greater success. Were resources aligned to the right section? Did you have enough people or time to execute each part of the proposal? A proposal platform can help guide your evaluation by giving you performance benchmarks to guide your investigation. If certain tasks weren't addressed or deadlines weren't met, look into why that was the case. Were certain team members overtasked or under-utilized? Did the timeline provided allow them the space to succeed?

Related article: What Is Proposal Management, and How To Take It Easy?

Ultimate Proposal Checklist

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Cheryl Smith

Cheryl Smith is our Senior Content Writer. She has additionally been writing and managing proposals since 1998. Shipley trained, she has helped establish proposal centers and advised on capture strategy, coached orals teams and lead marketing, communications and knowledge management programs. Cheryl is a graduate of The George Washington University with degrees in Theatre, Communications and Literature. When she’s not sharing her passion for work, she loves drawing, writing, cooking and exploring the Virginia woodlands with her husband, their dog Chase and the fuzzy guests they host for Rover.

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