One of the many pleasures in attending the national conference of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) in Dallaswas visiting the Shipley Associates booth. Over the past few decades, Steve Shipley and Shipley Associates have probably done more to advance the proposal profession than any other company. The new Shipley Business Development Lifecycle Guide 1.0 (2011) by Larry Newman exemplifies this contribution.
There are many excellent business guides available today, but I believe that this Guide is the best. I will keep this book close to my desk because it is so useful in proposal development.
The Guide describes a business development process that comprises 96 steps divided into six phases. It includes a handy laminated chart of the phases and steps, suitable for mounting on your office wall. It will impress your boss and its relevance to proposal development is very clear.
Although the Guide is obviously oriented toward businesses, I believe that nonprofit organizations also will benefit from it. If you substitute “funders” for “customers” in this publication, much of the advice given will apply to nonprofit organizations.
According to Newman, the Guide has three aims: (1) help senior managers design a single, flexible, and scalable development process based on industry best practices; (2) help individuals understand the development process; and (3) record best practices in a clear, linear, order. The Guide will help individuals and companies to:
- Align your process to the funder’s process.
- Use a disciplined business development process that emphasizes planning.
- Schedule to the process and maintain schedule discipline.
- Base your strategy and tactics on the funder’s perspective.
- Maintain funder focus through every step.
- Use “Decision Gate Reviews” to prompt senior management to decide whether to advance the opportunity to the next phase or end the effort.
- Use “Color Team Reviews” to improve the quality of development work products, including proposals.
There are three simple reasons why organizations need to be thorough and thoughtful when it comes to the development lifecycle. As Newman points out, it will reduce the costs and risks of capturing funders; increase productivity and staff morale; improve financial forecasting; increase management visibility and control; and result in more competitive solutions and proposals.
The Guide will help you win new funders and keep the ones you have. It will be most useful to nonprofit organizations working in the federal sector, but proposal professionals working in the foundation and corporate arenas will benefit from it too. There are tons of good, practical advice that will save you a great deal of time, resources, and heartache.
The Guide begins with a succinct introduction explaining how to use the publication and then provides a sequential 96-step process in just 70 pages divided into six phases:
- Long-term positioning.
- Capture planning.
- Proposal planning. This is the longest section at 16 pages.
- Proposal development.
- Post-submittal activities.
As usual in a Shipley publication, everything is presented very logically and briefly with plenty of good examples to follow. These entries are a pleasure to read and easy to follow. The tables and graphics are very helpful. If you can develop your proposals as clearly and convincingly as the lucid chapters in this book, your win rate will improve.
A helpful appendix defines the roles and responsibilities of everyone in the development lifecycle.
I strongly recommend that you purchase the Shipley Business Development Lifecycle Guide 1.0. It can be ordered online at https://www.shipleywins.com/myaccount-products.php. This is an indispensible book that will improve your proposals and advance your career as a proposal professional.