You are working in Consultancy Company in the energy sector and there is an opportunity, the tender that is presenting a good business opportunity for your company to earn a good profit.
The tender is funded by one of the biggest donor in the region, it is a long term contract and very attractive. Your company has decided to apply and for such purpose you will need to prepare a project proposal.
So how do you do this?
How do you plan your project proposal?
Which are the questions you need to address in the phase of planning the project proposal?
Which elements you need to consider?
What is important to consider during the development of the project proposal?
Below we will give you a brief guide on planning and developing your project proposal.
Planning your Project proposal
Depending upon the scope and complexity of your project, putting together a project proposal can be a challenging process. Good planning is essential. When planning your proposal, you should be asking yourself the following questions:
- When the Project proposal shall be completed
You may need to complete your business case proposal in time to meet a deadline that is set in Request for Proposal. A good rule of thumb is to assume that it will take longer than expected to complete the proposal. Allow for sufficient time and if you realize that you cannot complete the proposal by the required deadline then ask your manager for additional assistance from the staff that is available within your organization or alternative assistance (outside your organization). Leave plenty of time for copying, binding and delivering the proposal.
- Are there established guidelines or templates that you will need to follow?
Usually each organization has its own template for Project proposal to a tender.
If there is a template provided from the Company who has published Request for Proposal, than use such template. Sometimes there may be established protocols that must be followed and the proposal may need to be presented within a particular template.
In the case you have to use your own template, it will be easier for you. You are familiar with such form and you will not need additional time to get acquainted with new form or protocol.
- Are there people with expertise that you can advice as you develop your proposal?
Depending upon your experience in developing Project proposals, you may want to draw on other expertise to help you. If you are relatively new to an organization then you might need someone to help you identify the key people to involve, to share their experiences and provide advice on what has and has not worked. It can also be useful to find out who else within your organisation has been successful in obtaining funds. Have a chat with them – you may learn some important “in-house” tips that can save you time and effort and improve the quality of your proposal.
- How much time and resources are available to assist you in developing your proposal?
The time and resources required to develop a proposal can vary depending on the type of project. You may also find that as you work through the process you come up against particular challenges that were not anticipated. If you have not been allocated sufficient time and resources to complete the proposal adequately, you will need to discuss alternatives with your manager. Raise any issues as early as possible. This may provide you with more options, such as accessing additional personnel or external expertise if required.
- What the Request for Proposal is requiring you to do?
First step in preparing the Project Proposal is detailed review of the Request for Proposal (RFP). Sometimes the RFP is accompanied with Terms of References (the TOR) which is enabling you to have additional more detailed information. The RFP (or TOR) is the basic document that you need to study carefully and discuss with your colleagues. Since the project involves energy efficiency you will certainly need economist, lawyer, financial expert, energy efficiency expert, expert familiar with construction (engineer) and administrative staff to coordinate your activities and take case of all administrative issues.
From the RFP you will need to conclude what is exactly the purpose of the project and its scope. What exactly are the main components of the project and what is the best approach for the project proposal. It will require that you and experts in your company arrange meetings where you will discuss the TOR and its major components. What are the evaluation criteria?
The main components of the project and key activities will need further to be broken down into sub-categories. If you are going to engage a professional writer in editing and proof reading consider engaging him right from the start, even during this preparatory phase.
Developing the Project proposal
After you have all responses to the questions addressed above, you will start developing your proposal.
Initially you will prepare the outline of the proposal that will be based on the RFP. The requirements set forth in RFP will need to be met, therefore follow the RFP fully and unconditionally.
In addition you need always to consider that the company to whom you are sending your proposal doesn`t really know you, therefore you need to present your company, to say who you are and what you did so far, how do you qualify and what is the added value you will bring in your Proposal. Which methodology (strategy) you are going to use in order to achieve the project goals and objectives. In addition you have to explain clearly which problems or barriers you foresee during the implementation of the project and how you are going to address them. How you are going to achieve specific component of the project and how and how will you measure your results.
What do you need to keep in mind while developing a Project proposal?
While writing a Project proposal you need to give a clear and common understanding of how the tender will be implemented, so be clear, supportive and professional. Your proposal shall try to minimize paperwork, therefore it should be concise and shall not contain repeating). Use clear expressions, active rather than passive verbs and try to minimize inconsistencies and ambiguities. No language mistakes and inconsistencies. Use a consistent, logical structure in your proposal. Good presentation and reasonable budget are very important.
A powerful way is to check your RFT by responding to it yourself, or getting someone who hasn’t seen it to put together a response. This is well worth doing – you’ll soon find where the glitches are, and save a heap of time and trouble later.
Show you understand your client’s priorities
A tender is a technical marketing document. It shouldn’t be full of marketing advertisement, nor should it respond in a purely factual manner. Your aim is to impress on your client that you understand their key issues better than anyone else.
Start by analyzing the big picture of what your client is trying to achieve through the RFP. For example, while the contract may be asking for a supplier to build a bus stop, your client’s aim is to get more people into public transport, reduce congestion, and make our roads safer. If you’re able to get your client to see that you’re on-side with their wider aims, then you can set the scene for what it will take to deliver the work (in a way that only your company can achieve)
Offer values that cannot be rejected
To increase value of your tender so it’s significantly above the rest and cannot be rejected, you’ll have to offer something extra. If you can offer a tangible benefit, that’s helpful. If your approach has been proven in some earlier projects, even better.
How about delivering the project within a shortened timeframe? That usually translates directly to cost savings for your client. Will your solution provide lower whole-of-life costs (such as reduced power consumption, lower maintenance frequency, etc.)? Can you offer a finance solution that lowers the burden of costs to your client? Can you provide greater automation in future or a software interface that could save them labour costs? Speed up response times? Reduce customer complaints? Have you got a better grasp of construction risks and a clever solution to mitigate them?
Sometimes it takes an independent view to identify the factors that could differentiate you from the other bidders. From where you sit, your offer may either seem unremarkable (when in fact it’s quite unique); or alternatively, seem amazing until someone tells you that that’s the kind of thing that all your competitors will be routinely saying anyway.
Whenever it’s possible for you to provide something that your competitors can’t, you have the potential to distinguish yourself from the pack. And that’s what it takes in today’s environment, to win tenders.
There’s an old saying that if you find that winning tenders is painful and expensive, try losing them! If you’re going to the bother of preparing a tender, there’s no point of being “one of others”– be in it to win. And that means you have to do more than just go through the motions (like all the others in your industry do). Invest the time and the effort – go hard to uncover and explain what sets you apart as their very best partner for the job. When you win, you’ll know it’s worth the effort!
Project Planning is most important phase of the project development. While you plan the project it is most important to review carefully and in details the RFP and involve experts during the whole planning process. Verify the deadlines and create a working group of experts (internal or external) that will assist you in project planning and development. If there are established guidelines or templates for project proposal – use them. Development of the project proposal will need to be done based on strategy you selected, in consistent manner with deep understanding of clients priorities while offering values that cannot be rejected.