Better RFP Responses & Management
The Work

The Work

When written or said with a capital “W,” the Work in Proposal Land is the sum of the products, services, and data that the client wants to buy. Obviously that’s important to know when deciding whether to bid and when making a plan to deliver the Work. But its use goes beyond that.

What’s the Work?

In many situations this is the first question to ask because the answer forms the basis of *any* plan to do, you know, some work:

  • Putting together a response to an RFP
  • Reviewing a proposal section
  • Agreeing to a contract to “edit” a proposal

What’s the scope? What-all has to be done? What shouldn’t I do? What things are optional?

What’s the standard? Am I targeting quick-and-dirty, good-enough, or damn-near-perfect? Does it vary by task? By section?

Who do I work with? Who sends me work, who helps/interferes with my work, and who approves what I’ve done?

What’s the schedule? ASAP?  Date (and time) certain? (In Proposal Land, “Whenever I get to it”never seems to be an option.)

What’s. The. Work.

If I don’t know this, I don’t know nuthin’.



  1. Jim Taylor

    I’m glad I never had to do your kind of Work. Because it seems to me that “The Work” entails both process and product. As I’ve probably told (maybe many times), the Freelance Editors’ Association once held a discussion evening on what we would, or should, do if we had been asked to edit Mein Kampf.
    a) should we even accept the job at all? Should we be expected to work with a person like Hitler?
    b) if we took the job, was it incumbent upon us to make his Aryan prejudices as persuasive as possible? Or should we try to sabotage the project? Amend his arguments to make them more palatable to our own tastes?
    It seems to me that a) above is process, b) is product. We didn’t agree that evening; I doubt if we could today.
    Jim T

  2. Isabel Gibson

    Jim – Now that’s an imponderable – the ethics of editing Mein Kampf. I have nothing that comes close to that, but when technical experts asked me if it was OK to lie about the company’s capabilities or plans, I told them, “No, because it’s not OK to lie.” It always seemed to me that the question came from a point-of-view that marketing was, in effect, lying.

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