Create Winning Proposals

How to Use Mind Mapping to Create Winning Proposals

Many recent government contracts have been based on the trend of awarding large contract rights to multiple contractors who then compete for specific, fixed-priced contracts (i.e., projects) within the large contract vehicle. A key to optimizing success is pursuing the opportunity in advance of the request for proposal (RFP) and having processes to prepare the proposal in a short time frame.

This case study introduces MatchWare’s MindView 6 mind mapping software as an innovative tool that uses a collaborative approach to helping proposal teams quickly and successfully developing a capture plan, fast-tracking RFP analysis, and drafting a proposal framework before making the rapid transition into project plan development and proposal writing. Three mind maps are created to effectively position an opportunity, analyze the RFP and create a winning proposal. The mind maps include a Project Planning Map, WBS Map, and Activities Map.

Capture Process

MindView mind mapping software is very effective during the capture process prior to receiving the RFP. The mind map includes both capture management and project planning information. It is important to define project requirements and to identify technical solutions early in the capture process and also to brainstorm capture strategies, including win themes, pricing strategy, and differentiation. Using MindView, the project manager can effectively brainstorm capture strategies with the proposal team and use the content to create a capture plan.

Analyze Statement of Work

RFPs can sometimes include statements of work (SOW), which can be vague and poorly organized. Contractors must analyze each sentence of the RFP to understand scope requirements, exclusions, constraints, and acceptance criteria. This is an important step to help ensuring the proposal team accurately captures project scope requirements. MindView is very effective to document the scope requirements, and brainstorm technical solutions with the team.

Create WBS

MindView software is an efficient approach to analyze RFP requirements and create project planning documents, including the scope statement, work breakdown structure (WBS), project schedule, and procurement statements of work. Using the software, the project manager can focus on scope planning and then leverage these efforts to create the project schedule, cost estimate, and risk register. The software minimizes the tendency for proposal teams to establish departmental “silos” to create the various project planning documents. This can occur in the rush to respond to a RFP in which proposal team members each review the contract SOW and then independently prepare planning documents. Using MindView software, a project manager can more effectively integrate the efforts to prepare the project planning documents in a collaborative environment. Meetings with the proposal team are productive, because the project manager can decompose the WBS in real-time with the team. Proposal team members visually see changes to the WBS and can provide feedback. The WBS map can include note fields, links to photographs or wiki pages, and tags to organize the WBS using filtering features.

Technical Approach Outline

MindView is very powerful to create the technical approach outline and brainstorm proposal content. A project manager can export the map into MS Word to create the technical approach outline of the technical volume. The export includes the note fields which include information to help the proposal writer prepare the technical approach section, including win themes, contract statement of work, technical approach, risk mitigation strategies, and photographs. The export is the outline of the technical approach and establishes consistency between the WBS, project schedule, cost estimate, and technical approach. This provides significant time savings for the proposal team and reduces proposal rework after management review of the proposal. Mind mapping software is also well suited for creating electronic storyboards. This applies to the technical approach and to other technical volume sections. Using the software, teams can brainstorm each proposal section or sub section. Sub topics can include section objectives technical approach, win themes, differentiators, risk mitigation strategies, and graphics. The writers can export the map into MS Word and then create the proposal content.

MindView software enables a collaborative team approach to preparing winning proposals within a compressed time frame. Proposal teams can use mind mapping software to develop the capture plan, fast-track RFP analysis, and draft the proposal framework before making the rapid transition into project plan development and proposal writing. Using mind mapping software, the proposal team can initially focus on scope definition and then leverage these efforts to prepare time management, cost management, risk management, and procurement management outputs. Mind mapping software establishes consistency between the technical approach, WBS, project schedule, and cost estimate. This minimizes proposal errors, reworks following cost proposal reviews, and improves the technical evaluation of the proposal.