Who cares about proposals?
• You want to get paid? You either:
– Develop a product, hope it sells
– Work out a deal for somebody to pay you to do something. The first
step for you is to write a proposal.
• Government contracts are awarded according to the best
proposals. You want to do cool research? Get money
from Uncle Sam.
Types of proposals
• Initiate a channeled program or procurement
– This is usually requested by the costumer
– In this case, the customer thinks that they want to give you money for something.
You need to confirm this and define the project in a way that works for both you
and the customer. The proposal is the first stage for establishing a contract.
– There usually are no requirements or even guidelines for these proposals.
• Open competition
– Anybody can apply
– Most government procurements, big contracts, or open research grants
– The proposal must sell the program. Selection based on proposal evaluation by
– In this case, the customer wants to spend money in a certain way. You must
convince them to choose you over the competitors.
– Proposal must follow RFP instructions
Parts of a proposal
• Technical proposal
– What are you proposing to do?
– Win by convincing the customer that you will meet (or exceed!) the technical
• Management proposal
– What is the management structure?
– Win by convincing the customer that you will run a tight ship
• Cost proposal
– Different level of detail required depending on contract type
– Win by showing an acceptable cost that is well substantiated
• Vitae for key personnel
– Often, you are selling your talent. Make this good and relevant.
– You are also selling your facilities. Make this look good and relevant.
• Must address the technical solution offered
– Describe your solution
• Identify significant open issues and a decision plan
• Make the effectiveness of your solution clear
• Meet them in design
• Show verification plan for subsystem and system requirements
– Product support
– Wherever possible, relate to similar successful programs.
• Risk management
– How will you retire risks
• Plan for production
• Management structure of the organization
• Work Breakdown Structure for the project
– Clear definitions of tasks and responsibilities
– Segments cost and project management into bite size pieces.
• Configuration management – how will you handle:
– Drawings, work packages, bill of materials
– ECP (Engineering Change Proposal)
– Interfaces, ICD Interface Control Document
– Tech development, product engineering, production, testing, operation
– Design reviews
Statement of Work (SOW)
• Gives specifics on “what the job is”
• For small projects, this is usually provided, or worked out
jointly with the costumer
• For big programs, this is derived from the WBS
• Section 1 Scope - the overall purpose of the program
• Section 2 Documents – calls out specs and standards
• Section 3 Requirements – states the tasks to be
Work Breakdown Structure
• This is an important management tool for large programs. (Not
usually applicable for small projects involving only a few people).
• Breaks the problem up into smaller pieces. Each is identified,
with clear requirements. The responsibility for each element
must be clearly defined.
• Statement of Work (SOW) is often derived from this.
• Provides summary for each element in the WBS
• Will lead to work packages and bill of materials
How much money do you want?
Require BOE (Basis of Estimate)
CONTRACTOR’S COST PROPOSAL
Direct material $ 40,000
Material handling 10% 4,000
Direct engineering labor 6,000
Engineering overhead 100% 6,000
Direct manufacturing labor 12,000
Manufacturing overhead 150% 18,000
Other direct costs 6,000
General and administrative 25% 23,000
Total cost 115,000
profit 15% 17,250
Cost of money for facilities capital employed 1,500
Use a proposal to initiate a project
• Work with the customer so that you understand what they really
want. Narrow down the proposal according to the customer. Don’t
be afraid to send a draft proposal.
• Keep the proposal is concise, but give
– Technical summary
– Management plan
– Statement of work
– Requirements and verification
– Cost, schedule
• Make sure that your proposal looks professional. Your proposal
will go to the tech guy, who already wants it, and to his boss who
may not know you.
• Past performance is VERY important. Make sure to look good here.
• Most government programs must be won fair and square
• FAR regulations bind the hands of the customer
• The government will write a RFP for something specific
(such as a laser beam projector)
• or an RFO (request for offer) or BAA (broad agency
announcement) for something very general (such as
research in the area of high energy lasers).
• The key to winning is to understand the evaluation
process and selection criteria. Write your proposal
Development of government contract
ORD Operational Requirements Document RFP Request for Proposal
WBS Work Breakdown Structure RFO Request for Offer
SOW Statement of Work IFB Information for Bid
SOO Statement of Objective
CDRL Contract Data Requirements List
Phases for government programs
Definition of reviews
Reviews (Configuration Item)
Writing the proposal
• Planning – pre-proposal
– Work with customer to establish requirements. Help them to feel part of your
– Define team. Get management support
– Establish partners, subcontractors
– Make a detailed proposal schedule
• Develop winning strategy. What makes you special?
• Develop proposal outline
– Assign writing by the page
– Get good figures
• Bring proposal together
– Insist on regular communication within team
– Iterate to make sure to emphasize most important things:
• Requirements will be met
• Risks are understood and will be handled
Refining the proposal
• Leave ample time for revisions
• Make clean threads : references from one part to another
• Go back to the RFP! Make DAMN SURE that it is easy to see how
your proposal meets requirements
• Red Team review
– Get smart, outgoing people who know your customer. Have them review the
RFP and your proposal. Plan a review meeting for the red team without the
proposal team. They should identify weaknesses. Then have a painful, but
valuable review meeting. There is no time to beat around the bush. Look for
– Make sure each item flagged by the read team is addressed.
• Final editing and publishing
– Make your proposal look good. Sell yourself.
Keys to successful proposals
• Know the customer
– Make your proposal give them what they really want.
– Understand the proposal evaluation
• Make a strong impression
– Many proposals are won or lost in the executive summary. Make this
– Make a good show. Think about the “feel” of the proposal
• Have the best proposal
– Do the work required to have a solid technical proposal
– Make sure that it is easy to read and evaluate your proposal
– Work to contain costs and schedule
• Have an inside track
Evaluation Factors Example
Example of proposal scoring
Win technical points – address selection criteria
2.1 Value characteristics
Our program offers an excellent value to the government for many reasons, including the
criteria identified in the RFO. We list the key value characteristics in Table 2.4.1, showing the
first eight as the characteristics specified for evaluation.
The proposal will be scored Table 2.4.1. Characteristics showing value to the government
Characteristic Explanation Refer to
according to some specific 1) Demonstrated experience with this
Proven performance of prototype MARS mirrors
Currently building a 2-m version of this design
technical characteristics. 2) Demonstrated capability to execute
Our team has great depth to support manufacturing
and testing of all components and systems.
Make it IMPOSSIBLE for 3) Well defined, documented teaming
Established teaming from NMSD, documented
teaming agreements in place.
the reviewers to miss how 4) Direct experience to address traceability
to 8-m flight optics
LM-Raytheon has developed models for NGST and
SBL. UA has manufactured both 8-m class mirrors
your proposal meets these. and complete telescopes. UA worked with NASA to
model NGST performance with UA mirror.
5) Single mirror for both ambient and Our prototype will work both at cryogenic and 4.6
cryogenic operation ambient temperatures, without modification.
6) Addresses design application to exceed Analysis of design applications show our mirror to 4.6
Play the game to win. 7)
ambient and cryogenic requirements
Exceeds base requirements
exceed requirements for both.
Baseline AMSD design weighs only 12 kg/m , and 4.6
achieves all optical and dynamic goals.
Get a high score. 8) Demonstrated approach for establishing Production of flight optics will use proven, existing 6.1-6.4
flight mirror cost and schedule facilities with known costs and schedule.
9) Ability to execute Phase III Our AMSD will be flight qualified, ready for 6.2, 6.3
integration into a flight test. LMMS and Raytheon
have great experience supporting flight tests.
10) Demonstrated ability to manufacture UA is making 8-m ƒ/1.14 mirrors and telescopes 6.1, 6.2
highly aspheric 8-m mirrors and flight Raytheon has built numerous smaller flight optics.
Is the proposal responsive to the customer’s needs as specified in the RFP?
Is the proposal directly supportive of the system requirements specified in the system specification
Have the performance characteristics been completely specified? Do you show how they are
meaningful, measurable, and traceable from the system-level requirements?
Have effectiveness factors been specified (e.g., reliability, maintainability, supportability, and
availability?) Are they meaningful, measurable, and traceable, from the system-level requirements?
Does the proposal show a comprehensive risk management plan?
Does the proposal fully address system test and evaluation?
Have life cycle support requirements been identified (e.g., maintenance resource requirements,
spare/repair parts, test and support equipment, personnel quantities and skills, etc?)
Does the proposed design configuration reflect growth potential or change flexibility?
Do you show a comprehensive manufacturing and construction plan? Are key manufacturing
processes identified along with their characteristics?
Do you show adequate quality assurance and statistical process control programs?
Do you show a comprehensive planning effort (e.g., addresses program tasks, organizational
structure and responsibilities, a WBS, task schedules, program monitoring and control procedures,
Does the proposal address all aspects of total life cycle cost?
Do you feature previous experience in the design, development, and production of system
elements/components which are similar in nature to the item proposed?
• Remember that the proposal is a form of sales
• Win the hearts and minds of your customer
• The heart
– Help them to fall in love with your proposed program
– Write your proposal not only to convince, but to influence attitudes
• The mind
– Help them to know that by funding you, their program (of which yours
may be a small part of) will benefit.
– Know the game, score high.
Resources for this presentation
• Systems Engineering Fundamentals (Defense
Acquisition University Press, 2001).
This is available as PDF on line. Excellent Resource!
• DSMC PROGRAM MANAGERS TOOL KIT (US Gov’t
Printing Office, 2001).
This is also available as PDF on line. Good reference.
• H. Eisner, Essentials of Project and Systems
Engineering Management, (Wiley, 1997).
(I have this book. It’s not bad).