For many businesses the proposal process is always a scramble. Certainly, it’s understandable when working with tight time frames, a variety of stakeholders and a whole lot of information. A project implementation plan can help organize your team as you tackle complex RFPs. In addition, a thoughtful plan can improve the consistency and efficiency of your proposal execution.
In this post, we’ll explore exactly what a project implementation plan is. Additionally, we’ll cover how it benefits the RFP response process and how to build one for your proposal team. Finally, we’ll provide templates and an example to help you get started. With these tools, you can bring order and efficiency to your proposal process.
What is a project implementation plan?
A project implementation plan breaks down a project into the distinct steps required to accomplish a particular goal. Within the plan, each step required to achieve the goal has an owner and a due date. Often, the goal of the plan supports larger business objectives. Project Manager offers this insight about the strategic role of the tool:
“Strategic planning is done on an organizational level, dictating the direction of the company strategy and allocating resources to make that strategy come to life. Thus, the implementation plan traces the edges of that, mapping out how to best implement a strategic plan from the outset, and how to effectively manage it as it gets put into place.”
How can proposal managers use a project implementation plan
Certainly, a project implementation plan is a helpful project management tool for nearly any process. However, it is particularly useful for proposal coordinators. The plan gives them a way to organize their team and the complex RFP response process. Similarly, a RACI matrix or proposal timeline, can also serve as a guide for the proposal team to work from.
Benefits of a project implementation plan
A solid project implementation plan has short- and long-term benefits for your proposal team as well as your organization. Certainly, creating your project plan will take some time and optimization through trial and error, but stick with it.
Implementation plan benefits:
Boost buy in
Disagreements are bound to happen in proposal management. Naturally, when it comes to allocating resources, there will be conflicting opinions. However, creating a project implementation plan when resources are scarce. This can reassure any stakeholders or team members who may have doubts about pursuing a particular opportunity.
Bring your stakeholders, subject matter experts (SMEs) and entire proposal team together with a clear path to success. A project implementation plan can eliminate confusion about who is responsible for which steps. So, each team member knows what they are accountable for and when within the process. In addition, progress updates are clear and questions about what comes next are quickly answered.
Optimize and answer more RFPs
Because the RFP response process is clearly defined in your plan, the process can move more quickly. There’s no second guessing or confusion because the steps are clearly defined. Following a project implementation plan creates efficiency. Consequently enabling your team to answer more RFPs and win more opportunities. Then, with periodic reviews of your process, you can identify areas for improvement and become a well-oiled, RFP-answering machine.
How to create a proposal implementation plan
Ready to try a proposal project implementation plan? Get started here.
1. Define your goal
I get it. This may seem a little silly when creating a project implementation plan for proposal management. Afterall, the goal is obvious: to submit a winning bid. However, it’s so important to keep this goal in mind, because it should guide your plan and will prompt important questions.
Take a moment to consider. If your goal is to submit a winning bid, ask yourself, is this RFP winnable? Unfortunately, far too many businesses waste time and resources answering RFPs they were never going to win. Accordingly, that’s why discussion of to bid or not to bid is so important.
In addition, it’s important to know what it will take to achieve your goal. What internal resources will you need in order to submit a compelling bid on time? Who will need to be involved? Which stakeholders should be consulted? Ultimately, considering all of these questions will help you build a more complete, strategic implementation plan.
2. Map your process and resources
After asking yourself what it will take to win, you’re ready to start lay out your process and take stock of your resources.
Your proposal timeline milestones should include:
- Go/no-go evaluation and discussion
- Project planning
- Kickoff meeting
- Collection of questions for RFP issuer
- Search of content library by section and question
- Assignment of new questions to SMEs
- Customization of knowledge library content
- Executive summary and RFP cover letter creation
- Review of SME responses
- Formatting and design
- Final reviews
- Proposal submission
Assign due dates to each of these milestones. Remember, it may be easier to work backward from your proposal submission date to ensure you’re not rushing at the end of your process. Then, assign each task to the relevant team members. Who is responsible for ensuring the work is completed? Are they available and able to meet the required deadline?
This step is crucial for avoiding bottlenecks and delays later in the process. As time goes on, you can revise your timeline to account for efficiency you’ve gained. Alternatively, you may need to adjust if some steps that take more time than expected.
3. Build and publish your implementation plan
Now that you have all the information you need to include in your project implementation plan, you need to organize and present it in a clear and helpful way.
Proposal project implementation plan components:
Introduction and goal
Keep your introduction short and sweet. Generally, a paragraph or two is sufficient to outline the project. For example, your introduction should state the potential customer issuing the RFP, the value of the business and the goal of submitting a winning proposal by the deadline. Include the primary point of contact for the project for any questions or concerns.
Include an executive summary to give a high-level overview of your plan. What differentiators will you highlight? Why are your chances good to win this RFP? What challenges will you need to overcome to be successful?
List of stakeholders and contributors
Provide a comprehensive list of who will be involved in executing the project. Also, include a brief description of their role in the process. You may find a RACI matrix helpful for this step.
Outline of milestones and tasks
Create a chronological list of milestones. Within that list, add each task and responsible party. Certainly, it can be helpful to also note important dependencies as well as work that can be accomplished concurrently. You may find a Gantt chart helpful for visualizing this process, or you may want to use a project management tool. Provide additional instructions and any required context.
Your implementation schedule will follow the proposal timeline you created in your earlier preparation. Working backwards and allowing some extra time, assign due dates for each milestone and task within your plan.
Background documentation and resources list
Next, include links to any background or research you’ve done. The extra information helps subject matter experts and contributors customize their messaging. In addition, include any capture planning documentation or strategic account information available.
Define how the final proposal will be reviewed and approved. If changes are required, clearly state how those changes will be reviewed, adopted and documented so you don’t run into any version control issues. Finally, provide guidance for who is responsible to give final approval.
Project implementation plan templates and example
Smartsheet created this helpful project implementation plan template for general project management. However, it is easily adaptable for the purpose of proposal management. In addition to the elements listed above, this version also contains sections to explore risks and assumptions as well as security considerations.
For complex, high-value RFPs, more detail may be required. This is a project implementation plan example from the University of Illinois. Helpfully, it provides instruction for use and a wealth of customizable sections. As with Smartsheet’s template, some sections may not be applicable to proposal management.
This example from Lean.com is a no-frills version of a project implementation plan. Unusually, it forgoes background information and introductions. It jumps directly into a list of key tasks and milestones. In addition, each task notes the estimated time required and the name of the team member responsible. While this likely isn’t a fit for larger RFPs, it may work well for managing an RFP lite or a standard security questionnaire.
Efficiency and organization go hand in hand. Certainly, creating and following a project implementation plan for your proposal process can deliver huge improvements. For more information about improving your proposal process, you can also check out these blogs: