I was recently accepted as a contributor to the Association of Proposal Management (APMP) Book of Knowledge. APMP is asking proposal professionals from around the world to contribute to this reference to create an industry-neutral reference for proposal professionals. I am excited about this project, because as I’ve learned over the years, “process is process” no matter whether you are working on a U.S. government proposal, a foreign government proposal, a bid to a Fortune 500 company, or a bid to your local municipality. The processes just need to be adapted to suite the requirements of the opportunity. But that is another blog subject!
Right now I’m working on my draft in a coffee house in Austin, Texas. I’m visiting the Capital City of Texas to attend a concert in the evening. This is appropriate as the topic I am writing on is “Virtual Proposal Management.” As I sit here, I realize for the majority of the proposals I’ve worked on over the past 10 years, I have had at least one person contributing from a remote location. I remember one project in 2002 where working with a proposal team in Houston, we had two contributors who lived and worked in Edinburgh. By the time I left my last big employer, even though I worked in the Houston office, I support proposals all across the U.S. and very few were for teams 100% located with me. My most recent large proposal, I had contributors from Spain! As the world has become better connected over the past decade, business opportunities and proposal teams have become national and global. Large companies like IBM, Aetna, British Telecon and the US Department of Education are embracing remote working, according to REMOTE: Office Not required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Yet it continues to amaze me the number of companies, especially engineering firms that still think proposal professionals have to be physically located in an office.
Given that proposal professionals need to be flexible with their schedule, having your proposal team working remotely makes sense. It is also safer! Think of it this way, would you rather have your employee drive home after a long 12-14 hour day to be back in the office at 7 AM the next morning; or is it better they are able to work and then just walk out of their office and go to bed? It also allows your proposal team the flexibility to work as the project dictates, instead of forcing them to a fixed set of hours per day. As for the technical aspects, most companies (even small ones) have the infrastructure in place to do so.
This also frees companies to hire a proposal consultant that fits their needs rather than fits their location. Unless security concerns dictates the proposal team needs to be co-located, let as many of your proposal team work virtually when and if they want. Your team will be happier, the project will be completed more efficiently, and you will save in your man-hour budget.