Proposal planning, schedule & resources

Every government contractor should have a documented proposal process that requires a Proposal Plan for each major bid.

Resource Planning

You should forecast the proposal workload, secure the personnel, and configure proposal infrastructure needed to deliver a quality product — the winning proposal. Your company’s resource planning process needs to sustain deliverable quality across multiple, simultaneous proposals submitted to a diverse set of customers. Most companies allocate a certain amount of funds each year for proposal development. This is commonly referred to as a bid & proposal (B&P) budget. The capture manager or proposal manager submits a B&P request for approval. Here is a typical proposal budget request form.

Sample Bid & Proposal Budget Form (PDF)

Sample Bid & Proposal Budget Form (Word document)

Proposal Strategy

Your internal customers, the business development/capture teams, should integrate into the proposal process at the planning phase. They will need to receive quality proposal management expertise to support strategy development, including drafting a vision of your company’s approach. The capture team should produce information for decision-makers that is clear, concise, and actionable attainable.

Proposal Management Systems

Your company should develop proposals in a disciplined and systematic manner. The Proposal Manager should develop a Proposed Management Plan for producing the winning proposal on schedule and within budget. Leveraging capture strategies, this proposal Management Plan should customize your approach to selling the benefits that the customer will receive by selecting your company. Now, your company resources, strategies and systems should be aligned to propose “everything the customer wants in a contractor.”

For major proposal or grant efforts, the proposal team should develop a system of proposal directives that support the organization, process execution, and control of the proposal development effort. This usually occurs after the final bid decision meeting and notice to proceed.

Proposal Management Plan

The Proposal Management Plan (PMP) defines the proposal effort scope, schedule, staff, organization, process and tools. In addition to these planning elements, the PMP includes:

  • Background information to indoctrinate proposal team
  • Capture information that targets the customer issues and competition weaknesses
  • Proposal strategies for communicating the company’s benefits
  • Concept of operations as a foundation for your approach
  • Compliance-based outline that defines the customer questions

The PMP is more than a plan; it is a reference manual for who, what and how you are going to communicate the benefits of selecting your company. The PMP communicates this information through a series of proposal directives. The directives covering virtually every aspect of proposal development include:

  • Proposal Strategy
  • Logistics
  • Proposal Basics
  • Proposal Process
  • Proposal Production

The Proposal Manager develops directives to meet proposal-specific needs. The Capture Manager contributes to developing directives within their areas. Many directives are live documents and are updated as needed. The compliance outline is under configuration control of the Proposal Manager. Only the Proposal Manager can change the compliance outline. Key directives include the proposal schedule, author assignment form, proposal strategy information and compliance outline.

Proposal Schedule

The proposal schedule depicts the milestone events that define the time-frame of the proposal process — work packages, mock-ups and proposal drafting — described in the proposal development process.

The Proposal Manager develops a detailed schedule that incorporates key activities and milestones. The level of detail that should be tracked will depend on the proposal complexity and the amount of time until the proposal is due. The first download illustrates a schedule for a typical short turnaround task order proposal. The second download presents a sample proposal schedule checklist.

1. Win Strategy

  • Opportunity Overview – CM
  • Your Company’s Team – CM
  • Concept of Operations – CM
  • Proposed Contract Organization Chart – CM
  • Competitor Assessment – BD/CM
  • Self Assessment – CM
  • Win Themes, Discriminators, Innovations & Initiatives – BD/CM
  • Why Us Summary – CM
  • Procedures for Contact Forms – PM

2. Proposal Facility and Logisitics

  • Telephone and Address Listing – PC
  • Telephone, Voice Mail, and Fax Instructions – PC
  • After Hours and Non-Standard Work Hours Procedures – PC
  • Local Hotels, Restaurants, Map, and Directions – PC

3. Proposal Basics

  • Proposal Team Organization – PM
  • Proposal Team Roles and Responsibilities – PM
  • Proposal Schedule – PM
  • Computer Use and File Structure – PC
  • Proposal Security – PM
  • Daily Proposal Meetings – PM
  • Issue/Commitment Tracking System – PM
  • Library Procedures – PC
  • Proposal Style Guide – PM

4. Proposal Process

  • Compliance Matrix – PC
  • Compliance Outline – PM
  • Proposal Outline – PM
  • Proposal Process – PM
  • Author Assignment Form – PM
  • Work Package Process – PM
  • Proposal Production Process – PC
  • Text and Graphics Processing – PC
  • Data Calls – PC
  • Proposal Walls – PC
  • In-process Reviews – PM
  • Review Teams – PM

5. Production and Delivery

  • Production File Management – PC
  • Text Production – MP
  • Graphics Production – GA
  • Proofing and Editing – MP
  • Delivery Plan – PM


  • CM – Capture Manager
  • PM – Proposal Manager
  • PC – Proposal Coordinator
  • MP – Manager, Production
  • GA – Graphic Artist

Proposal Strategy

The documented proposal strategy information is crucial to developing a response that sells benefits to the customer. The proposal development process extracts the customer issues and themes, discriminators, innovations, and initiatives for integration into your response to RFP requirements.

– Melanie Baker & Mike Lisagor


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