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Most proposals to the United States Government, particularly to the Department of Defense, are structured in a similar manner in response to the government s formal Request for Proposal (RFP). Because of this similarity industry follows a common approach in developing proposals. Different organizations may have their own unique terminology associated with developing proposals, but the basic underlying proposal process is almost always the same. Government RFPs vary in the specific way they provide proposal instructions and evaluation criteria, sometimes creating a challenge to the proposal team in interpreting the RFP. However, once the interpretation is made a standard approach to proposal development can be used. This handbook presents a nominal proposal process that is widely used in industry and explains how to implement this process to produce effective written proposals. The content is organized with a process overview followed by appendices covering specific proposal artifacts and source material. The process overview describes an evolutionary approach to developing proposals with each incremental product building on previous products. Successive increments in this proposal evolution provide an opportunity to review and make corrections and improvements before proceeding with the next increment. Guidance on the content of the incremental proposal products is provided, along with examples of these products, in the appendices. The presentation is meant to be understandable by a proposal novice and, therefore, contains material that is elementary and lessons learned from many years of proposal development. Both the novice and the experienced proposal developer can benefit from using the handbook as a reference and not as a tutorial to be studied end-to-end. The handbook can also be a vehicle for establishing a common language within the proposal development team. Having a common understanding of the proposal process and the intent of each proposal product across the entire proposal team should reduce confusion and miscommunication. The advice given in the book has resulted from the combined 75 years of the authors experience in developing and reviewing proposals for government contractors bidding to the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The concepts covered in the book incorporate industry best practices and have been widely used by the authors to provide direction and training for proposal teams. While briefings have been effective the book was conceived as a self-help device that individuals working proposals can easily access at the appropriate time in the proposal development process, revisiting specific topics to refresh understanding.
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In 1967, Dr. Mason received a Ph. D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Arizona. He received a BS in Aeronautical Engineering in 1959 from Purdue University and later taught undergraduate and graduate courses in control systems at Purdue. His career in engineering included stability and control analysis of NASA s Saturn V launch vehicle, mission analysis for Pioneer Jupiter and other interplanetary spacecraft, and software process design and system engineering for missile defense systems. He held the positions of Vice President and General Manager and Vice President of Program Operations at TRW. In these two separate positions, he had the responsibility of acquiring new business and delivering profit. During his tenure as VP/GM he increased his organization s sales at a compound annual growth rate of 66% and profit by 35%. Since his retirement from TRW he has been a consultant in key proposal management positions helping companies in the development of winning proposals. Dr. Mason received the TRW Chairman s Award for Leadership in Missile Defense Systems at TRW and the Outstanding Aerospace Engineering Award from Purdue University. Mr. Graf received his BSME in 1965 from the University of Arkansas. As an engineer, he worked for NASA in activating Launch complex 39 and in launching the first Saturn V. At TRW, he worked on the Apollo Mission support, the Shuttle Requirements program and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom as part of the Apollo XIII Mission Operations Team. He performed engineering in support of metropolitan transportation systems for the City and County of Denver, CO, and energy storage systems for the United States Department of Energy. During his engineering career, he supported numerous proposals, which eventually led him into business development. He became the Director of Business Development, under Dr. Mason, and together they have established and executed the strategy to develop many competitive proposals totaling in excess of $9 billion in sales. As the Director of Business Development, Mr. Graf was frequently assigned the role of Proposal Manager for Must-Win competitive procurements by his employer. While working together, Dr. Mason and Mr. Graf have continued to refine their approach to writing competitive proposals. Some of the proposal methodology was borrowed from other types of business. For example, storyboards came from the movie industry and have been a fundamental component of how proposals are developed for decades. The original storyboard has evolved over time into today s planning sheets but the concept remains the same. As computer technology and software have matured, the authors have adapted their methods to take advantage of the latest technology. This handbook documents their processes as of 2007. The authors anticipate future improvements in the use of automation to facilitate the mundane and clerical tasks involved in proposal development and to aid industry and the government in the competitive procurement process.
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