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The High Cost of Reformatting Government Proposals

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Kris Sæther



5 min

How do you eliminate the frustration and financial burden of repetitious reformatting?

For government contractors bidding state, local and federal proposals, there’s an all-too-familiar drill: spend hours establishing compliant formatting to begin writing your large, complex proposal. And then sink even more time into reformatting your proposal for reviews and to comply for submission. You’re working twice as hard, and it’s frustrating. And it’s consuming significant time and money.

Here we’ll outline the impact of repetitious reformatting, and how to enforce your formatting so your proposal is always review and production-ready. 

The Impact of Repetitious Reformatting

The RFP calls for Times New Roman 10. But subject matter expert (SME) #1 uses Calibri with double spacing. SME #2 prefers Garamond with single spacing. Meanwhile, content is copied and pasted in from past proposals that required different fonts and bullet styles.  When it’s time for review, your proposal team must first reformat every page, paragraph, sentence, bullet, and word. Run more than one review? Rinse and repeat.

What’s the impact of repetitious reformatting on your team and timeline?

The Writing Impact

Any deviation from the required formatting forces time-consuming reformatting tasks that steal time away from SMEs and writers. That means, for 1 or 2 days they aren’t writing, they are waiting.

The Reviewing Impact

When it’s time to review, you pull together a myriad of documents for your review team. Based on your contributor’s writing preferences, they all look a little different. But reviewers want to review from the client’s perspective; formatted and production-ready. That means, for another 1 to 2 days, your executives aren’t reviewing, they are waiting.

The Production Impact

When it’s time for production, you once again pull together all of your documents, and once again they all look different. That means, for another 1 to 2 days, your proposal team isn’t checking compliance, they are reformatting. Borrowed too much time from production to finish writing? That means 1 all nighters plus 1 day for recovery, and a very narrow margin for delivery error.  

Want to improve your win rate? Invest more quality time into your proposal writing. Time for addressing your customer’s needs and goals, and emphasizing how you differentiate from the competition. That’s what the evaluating panel is looking for as they read and score your proposal.

The Impact of Enforcing your Formatting 

Repetitious reformatting tasks are time-consuming deviations from the proposal tasks at hand; writing, reviewing and submitting a winning bid. Try to feed more proposals into this repetitious process at the same time, and your process just won’t scale with your same staff.

Now, imagine your proposal content as two layers; a writing layer and a layout and formatting layer. By keeping them separate, your proposal team enforces the required formatting - and remains in a consistent review and production-ready state.

Less Set-up Time

By enforcing your formatting, there’s no 1 to 2 day delay between the bid decision and the kick-off meeting. Your formatted response, or proposal “shells” are automatically established and ready for your SMEs. 

More Writing Time 

By enforcing your formatting, there’s no 1 to 2 day pause between writing and reviewing. Your proposal is already review-ready, so your SMEs have more time to write. At the same time, consistent formatting focuses your SME’s attention. Instead of worrying about changing fonts and indenting paragraphs, they are using their mental bandwidth to write accurate, well thought-out responses, infused with their expertise.

More Reviewing Time

When it’s time to conduct a review, there’s no 1 to 2 day delay spent reformatting. Your proposal is automatically formatted and review-ready, giving your reviewers 1 to 2 days more for review. Instead of waiting, executives are reviewing, in the exact same layout and format the evaluators will read and score. Now, you also have time to set reviewer expectations with instructions that drive productive review outputs.

More Production Time

When it’s time for production, there’s no 1 to 2 day sprint spent reformatting. Your proposal is automatically layout and format-compliant. Now you and your team have the time they need for compliance checks, polishing and delivery.

Less Stress and Burnout

Meanwhile, you’re not grappling with another big problem, one that puts your entire organization at risk; proposal team stress, burnout, or worse, churn. While small amounts of stress can help motivate a team, too much stress can be detrimental to emotional, mental and physical health, and even hinder your proposal work.

Eliminate Repetitions Reformatting

Your government sales and capture team invested a lot of time into building customer relationships and gathering intel to get you to the RFP stage. Now, your proposal team is poised to respond and close the sales cycle with a win. Where do you want your SMEs and your proposal team spending their time? Reformatting and waiting for reformatting? Or writing and reviewing your next winning bid?

If the old-school, time-consuming habit of repetitious formatting has creeped into your proposal process, it’s time for a time-saving change.


Related Article: Pros and Cons of Proposal Friction


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Kris Sæther

Kris Sæther is Chief Commercial Officer of Xait. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Media Studies, and has worked in financial communication in London and Frankfurt prior to joining Xait. He has 20+ years experience from the information management industry. Kris is an avid runner and skier, and a passionate fan of the world’s coolest soccer team, Tottenham. If he is not working or running you will find him cheering for his two daughters on the handball court.

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