Do the Work, Don't Rework

For some people, efficiency is synonymous with speed. Sometimes there is very little time from when the RFP drops to the submission deadline, and this means the proposal team must work very hard and very quickly to prepare a proposal for submission. However, efficiency is not just doing things as quickly as possible. It is also about doing things right the first time, so you do not waste time on rework. 


Using boilerplate sounds like a surefire way to boost efficiency during proposal writing; however, there are many potential pitfalls that make reusing boilerplate dangerous. For example, drudging up an old winning proposal to a similar customer and using “find and replace” to change the customer’s name is not the most efficient way to create another winning proposal. Is it the fastest? Sure. But because each client is unique, there is no guarantee that a customer will have the same hot button issues as another. This lowers your chances of having a winning proposal. 

Boilerplate text and graphics can be incredibly useful for proposal development when it is tailored to the customer.  

When using boilerplate, ensure that the included text fits within the new proposal: 

  • Are summaries, introductions, and subheadings updated for this customer? 
  • Does the order of topics taken from boilerplate text align with this customer’s order of importance? 
  • Have boilerplate graphics been tailored to this customer? 

Asking these types of questions confirms you still have a unique, customer-focused proposal when using boilerplate. 

Compliance Matrix 

There are quite a few proposal planning tools that make the actual writing more efficient. One tool that helps focus the proposal on the customer requirements is a compliance matrix. This is a document that connects each part of the customer’s individual bid request with its response in your proposal. You can also use it to allocate pages to each section and assign authors. 

Create your matrix during proposal planning to ensure it is used during proposal development. It defeats the purpose of having a compliance matrix if you make one post-writing. This significantly lowers the chances of neglecting the bid request requirement as you write. 

Preparation is key to efficiently creating a winning proposal. Taking the time to map out where you will answer each portion of the bid request eliminates any last-minute scramble to make your proposal compliant. 

Color Team Reviews 

Winning proposals are not written in isolation. Especially on a short timeline, you may wish to simply write and submit without utilizing reviews, thinking this is the most efficient path. Again, this may be the quickest way to submit a proposal, but it significantly decreases your chances of submitting a winning proposal. 

A Pink Team review, in particular, is held to gently steer the planned proposal back on course before text is written. Top proposal practitioners consider Pink Team the most important review. When you take the time to hold a Pink Team and review the storyboard, mockups, compliance, and responsiveness before writing text, you set the stage for efficient writing as the next step.  

While you may skip certain color team reviews when you have a compressed timeline, you should always hold a Pink Team review. 


Efficient proposal development involves so much more than writing. Extra steps from planning to color team reviews will allow you to maximize your proposal efforts while eliminating unnecessary rework.