Scheduling for Success
One of the most common mistakes in proposal management is poor scheduling. Tasks initially regarded as optional can become mandatory. With such high stakes, it is imperative that tasks are not rushed the day before the submission due date. Even a one-person, single-day proposal benefits from having a schedule.
Expect and prepare to cope with changes. The following broad guidelines will improve your overall scheduling effectiveness:
- Consider the total time available, then deduct 10 percent for a reserve to handle unanticipated tasks and problems. Then schedule proposal activities in the remaining 90 percent of the available time.
- Build a list of events that have to be scheduled. Schedule the major events first, then add the finer details or granularity later.
The schedule’s complexity depends on the proposal’s size and the number, expertise, and location of contributors. If at all possible, have a schedule available to distribute at the kick-off meeting.
Always plan to deliver your proposal one day prior to the due date. If you deliver it that day, then congratulations on a job well done, if not, then you have a few hours to breathe. Late proposals are often eliminated and immediately trashed.
Items to take into consideration:
- Delivery – Will this be an overnight shipment via an international shipping service, via local courier, or self-delivery?
- Printing – Will you use an outside printer or will you print in-house? If you plan to send your proposal to an outside printer, contact them as soon as your schedule is created, so they know to expect your print job. Waiting until the last minute to notify them, is not good; they may not have room in their production schedule to accommodate your “RUSH” request.
- Reviews and Approvals – Who will be involved in the reviews and the approvals? What else do these people have on their plates and how do other deadlines affect their contributions and input?
- Weekends and Holidays – Avoid scheduling on and around these as much as possible.
Estimate Time Standards by Task
Use these time standards as a start until you develop standards for your organization. Requiring less time in your organization is not necessarily excellent performance nor is taking more time a sign of poor performance.
|Writing : New Material||4 pages / day|
|Writing : Extensive Revision||8 – 10 pages / day|
|Writing : Minimal Revision||20 – 25 pages / day|
|Simple Graphic||1 – 2 hours each|
|Complex Graphic||2 – 6 hours each|
|Retouch Photo||1 – 2 hours|
|Complex Illustration||1 day each|
|Red Team Review||40 pages / day|
Managing a proposal requires you to work with countless unpredictable components. Will your contributors meet their deadlines? What if your computer crashes? What if a massive storm causes shipping delays? Solutions can be found for all of these challenges, but no matter how much of a proposal wizard you are, more time can’t be pulled out of a hat. By carefully designing (and sticking to) your proposal schedule, while building in time for the unforeseen, your proposal’s chance of success increases and your stress level decreases.