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Response Management

How Should You Structure Your Proposal Team?

March 10, 2022

If you’re reading this, you know how much work it takes to respond to a proposal. It can take an average of 24 hours to respond to an RFP and many RFPs have to be turned around fast, sometimes in a matter of days. 

It’s difficult for one person to handle that process alone, especially if they have other responsibilities. That’s why it’s important to have a proposal team dedicated to RFP responses  in place. The best proposal teams are well-oiled machines; a good RFP team can create a better experience for your company and prospects, increase your win rate and make the response process easier for everyone involved. 

It’s important to remember that not all proposal teams look the same. Smaller businesses may have a proposal team of only a few people while larger companies might have a dozen. Some companies may have only a proposal manager. However, no matter how big your team is, the goal is always the same: winning business.

This article will review common proposal team roles, look at structuring your team, and offer some ideas for building an efficient and effective bid team. 

Proposal team roles and responsibilities

Your proposal team may not have all of the following roles, but each of these roles represents a set of responsibilities that someone on your team will have to take on. Some teams may only have a proposal manager and a writer. Others may combine several sets of responsibilities into one role. Let’s take a look at some of the most common roles first. 

Common bid team roles

  • Proposal Manager - The proposal manager is the key role in any RFP response process; they own the proposal process and direct the team. 
  • Proposal Writer - The proposal writer, or technical writer, does the heavy lifting when it comes to actually writing an RFP response. Some teams may have multiple writers in order to get a proposal done quickly. In that case, those writers will be coordinated by the volume lead. More on the volume lead later.  
  • Subject Matter Expert (SME) - The subject matter expert advises the writer. The subject matter expert has specific information about the topic being written about in the RFP response. It’s the SMEs job to make sure the writer has the correct information.
  • Technical Editor - The editor looks at the document after it’s been written, both to catch errors and to make sure it looks like it’s been written with one tone. This is particularly important on proposal teams with several writers. 
  • Graphic Designer - The graphic designer makes the RFP response look good. They lay out the response, and use graphics, like charts and photographs, to help convince a prospect to accept your proposal. 
  • Reviewer - All RFP responses should be reviewed and approved by someone in leadership, ideally by a C-level executive. After the proposal is approved, it can be sent back to the customer. 

Extended bid team roles

The following roles don’t appear on every team; their jobs may be rolled into another role’s job description. Larger teams, however, may have some or all of the following roles. 

  • Capture Manager - The capture manager in charge of the sales opportunity itself. They received the RFP and brought it to the team, and they know the most about the customer. They are there to advise the team about the customer and the specific RFP.
  • Proposal Coordinator -The proposal coordinator is the person who manages tasks, schedules, and all the details associated with putting together a proposal. 
  • Volume lead - The volume lead, or book boss, coordinates all the writers. This role structures the documents, guides the writers and gives them feedback. 
  • Compliance - In certain government contracts, compliance with regulations is key. The compliance lead reads through the proposal specifically to ensure compliance. 
  • Cost strategist - The cost strategist ensures that the pricing of the proposal is compliance, competitive, and covers everything laid out in the RFP. 

Building your proposal team

When should you get serious about creating a dedicated proposal team? Most experts would agree that as soon as your organization gets an RFP, it’s time to start building your team. However, some companies don’t create a bid team until there’s a large influx of RFPs, or the RFPs become increasingly complex. 

Whenever you decide to create that team, it’s important to structure it mindfully. 

  1. First, decide what an effective team looks like. An article on Winning the Business suggests creating a team charter at the start of each bid as a way of establishing goals, ground rules, and the expectations team members have of one another.  
  2. Create a proposal process. When you have a clearly defined proposal process, it’s much simpler to decide which members you need on your proposal team and who should be taking on which roles. Document the process so that everyone knows exactly what it is.
  3. Decide which roles are appropriate for your team and process. Maybe your company just needs a proposal manager and a proposal writer. Maybe your proposal writer and SME are the same person. Perhaps a capture manager is necessary. Decide what works for your specific organization and then build your team.
  4. Be prepared to change the team structure as you grow. Nothing is set in stone; if your bid team needs to restructure, be sure to review once in a while and make changes. You may also be part of a growing company and might need to add roles as your RFP process changes. Don’t be afraid to make those adjustments. 
  5. Make sure the whole team meets at the start and end of each bid. Even if you are bidding often, kick off the bid process with a quick meeting to talk about the upcoming project, review the timeline, and discuss responsibilities. At the end, debrief. Talk about what went well and what was a challenge so you can adjust the process in the future. 

As you build your team, you should also be looking for tools that will help your team during the RFP response process. Ombud’s RFP automation solution streamlines the proposal process so your team can do what they do best — create the very best proposal they can.

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