One of the many pleasures in attending the recent 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 Proposal Guide 4.0 (2011) by Larry Newman exemplifies this contribution.
There are many excellent proposal guides available today, but I believe that the Shipley Proposal Guide is the best. I have kept earlier editions close to my desk. This one will be no exception.
According to Larry Newman, the new guide has three aims: (1) help win competitive business more effectively, efficiently, and consistently; (2) offer clear and practical advice to business professionals about proposal development; and (3) provide best-practice guidelines. The Guide will help individuals and companies to:
- Align your proposals with the customers’ evaluation criteria.
- Use a disciplined development process that emphasizes up-front planning.
- Schedule proposal development steps and maintain fidelity to the schedule.
- Orient your strategy to the customers’ perspectives.
- Focus your effort by writing an early executive summary.
- Apply proven process and management processes to proposal development.
- Write to the customer.
- Use color reviews to control your development process and improve your proposals.
The Guide accomplishes these goals clearly by dividing the proposal development process into six topics: document design, proposal management, pricing and costing, process design, proposal writing, and sales and capture management. Within these six topics are over fifty subtopics that are each presented in a few pages.
For example, under the topic “proposal writing” there are 1.5 pages devoted to “gobbledygook.” First, the word is defined and illustrated. Then Newman recommends two antidotes to proposal gobbledygook: (1) use specific words; and (2) avoid long, complex, and convoluted phrases. Both antidotes are presented with all-too-familiar examples. There is even a table of common gobbledygook with its antidotes. “Activate” should be replaced by “start” while “heterogeneous” should be replaced by “different.”
The entry on gobbledygook is typical of the Guide. Everything is presented very logically and briefly with plenty of bad and good examples. These entries are a pleasure to read and easy to follow.
I strongly recommend that you purchase the Shipley Proposal Guide 4.0. 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.