Easy Does It

Proposals are hard. We spend long hours struggling to make the proposal compliant, make sure it answers the mail, fits into the page limits, and (by the way) persuasive enough to win. Everyone who works in the proposal field is very familiar with this difficult challenge.

Do you ever consider, however, that it can be hard on the people who read our proposals as well? The contracting officer may be used to it–after all, it’s their job. But other evaluators often are dragged kicking and screaming into the process. Technical SMEs have their “real” jobs and may feel like reading proposals is at best a necessary evil. Other evaluators may feel out of their depth, reading proposals about something they don’t really understand. And all of the evaluators, including the contracting officer, are just trying to get through the process as quickly and (relatively) painlessly as possible.

So, as you develop your proposals, be thinking about how you can make things easier for the evaluators. Keep the writing simple and straightforward; use short sentences, avoid jargon, be specific. Keep the graphics simple, too: If evaluators can’t get the gist of a figure within a few seconds, they will give up and move on, and you will have lost an opportunity to make an impact. Make the layout simple and clean, and use a very readable font type and size.

It’s also important to make sure your outline follows the order of requirements in the RFP. In most cases, the evaluators will be working with a checklist provided by the contracting officer that maps precisely to the RFP requirements, so any deviation from the order of required elements prescribed in the RFP will make it harder for them to find what they’re looking for. That is likely to annoy the evaluators and make them less likely to score your proposal highly.

Ultimately, making things easy for the evaluators will give your proposal a better chance of winning. And that’s one way to make things easy on yourself, too.

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