Tag Archives: Managing standards

Government-sanctioned Numbering

RFP article 5.2.A.4.b.ii clearly requires all bidders to use RFP numbering in their responses.  However, this directly contradicts the 14th bullet under Instruction to Bidders II.C.3.d.5.iv.3.z, which allows each bidder to structure their response however they please.


I guess we’ve all seen RFPs with obtuse numbering, ungraspable by the human brain.  Numbered headings are a great way to structure a document, providing strong hints as to where you are now, and to which subjects are related.  But after about three or four numbers in a heading, I lose track.  Additional numbering levels make it worse, not better:

  • Section
  • Section
  • Section

Ack!  And yikes, besides.  At some point, my eyes start to cross.

There’s a reason we learn and repeat our ten-digit phone numbers in bursts: three, three, and then four digits.  And that reason is that we just aren’t that smart: Holding more numbers than that in our heads at one time is, pretty much, not on.

So it is for numbered headings.

But don’t take my word for it.  In Canada, go straight to the source: the former (and not yet renamed as of this posting) PWGSC website on “The Canadian Style,” and I quote:

“Limit the number of levels of headings to three or four;
otherwise the structure of your document
will be cumbersome and complicated.”

Indeed.  And un-understandable.

Of course, if the RFP uses a ten-digit numbering system and requires you to follow it, then follow it.  But where you have a choice, make full use of it.


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Filed under Proposals

Term: Colour/Color Palette

The sum of the decisions made about how to use colour/color in the proposal. Affects headers, footers, headings, tables, graphics, and binder covers.

If you wouldn’t think this matters, you’ve never tried to get a proposal approved for submission by executives or communications specialists, who tend to care about the graphics.  In this as in all areas of proposal development and production, standardization contributes to submitting a professional document.

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Filed under Terminology

A Proposal Management Lesson from Software Development

Today’s Medium compilation in my inbox brings an interesting article on the #NoEstimates movement in software development. It’s a tough bind: the features are fixed and they have to define (and then live or die by) the schedule. I empathize, sort of.   Continue reading

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Filed under Management

RFP Responses: They’re Not Brochures

RFP responses are sales documents, for sure, but they’re not brochures.

So what?  Continue reading

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Filed under Proposals

Style-Manual Travails

RFP responses are supposed to look as if one person wrote them. Everybody says so. This is one reason we use style manuals, to standardize usage, terminology, punctuation. Over the years, I have happily ignored the preferences of proposal team members. “What matters,” I said, “is not that it be ‘right’ in some sense, but that it all be the same.” And that’s true enough, but not always comfortable.   Continue reading

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Filed under Proposals