Term: Joint Venture

Two or more companies coming together to execute a project, with their relationship governed by a contract.

Although companies may work together on several projects over many years, they form discrete joint ventures for each such venture. In Proposal Land, each discrete venture would be for a contract or project.

Apparently there is significant ambiguity regarding under what conditions a Canadian court will treat a joint venture as something other than a partnership, which affects little things like liability. This may explain the leeriness of corporate lawyers regarding the use of “partnership” language in proposals.

Acronym? JV, pronounced by spelling it out.

Footers and Legislation

This document includes confidential, proprietary, and commercially/competitively sensitive information not publicly available. We provide this information to [client name here] in strict confidence solely for the purposes of bid evaluation, and on the understanding that it will be safeguarded from intentional or inadvertent release to our competitors, actual or potential.

There. That ought to do it, yeah?

This is the more-or-less standard confidentiality rider in the footer of every proposal I’ve ever worked on. Its purpose is to protect a company’s true technical secrets, pricing strategy, and other good stuff that you wouldn’t want your competitors to know.

Does it work? Well, this article suggests not, or not as well as you might assume. It views the risks arising from Freedom of Information legislation as one of the costs of doing business with the public sector.

I’m not a lawyer, but I suggest you consult one before bidding again. And show them this article. No matter how lovingly crafted, a footer does not trump legislation.


Buddy & Me: If We Colour-code the Tabs

I’ve lost count of the number of times a technical writer or manager has taken a wee break from the proposal grind, only to come back into the office with some insight:

  • A better solution
  • A better communication approach
  • An out-and-out error, previously unnoticed

Sometimes your best buddy is your own subconscious. So give it a chance to work, and some quiet space in which to be heard. If you’re a manager, encourage your team to do the same – by example as well as by exhortation.

And oh yeah: Colour-code the tabs.

Buddy & Me: If We Colour-code the Tabs



Buddy & Me: What Else Can We Put in a Table?

I admit it: I like words. But as a proposal editor, I am often required to cut, delete, remove, and otherwise get rid of extraneous words. Sometimes it’s for clarity. Sometimes it’s for punch. Sometimes it’s to meet a page limit.

I also admit that I sometimes get my head down scrunching text when what’s needed — for clarity, for punch, and for page-limit compliance — is a different approach entirely. I detest contrived graphics and hate tables with paragraphs of text stuffed into them, but a good graphic or table is often the right way to go:

  • If you’re writing, think before you start about graphical and tabular options and save everybody, including you, a lot of aggravation
  • If you’re editing (especially if you’re having to reduce the length), look first for graphical and tabular ways to present information before tackling the words themselves

While we’re on the subject, if the RFP sets minimum font size at anything larger than a 10, respectfully (but immediately) request a change. Text in tables needs to be smaller than the legibility limit for paragraphs. Overly large font negates the get-it-at-a-glance factor that is one of the main values that tables bring.

Buddy& Me: What Else Can We Put in a Table?


Term: ISO

International Organization for Standardization, responsible for defining characteristics of quality regimes (manufacturing and services), and an environmental protection regime.

The organization’s website states that ISO is not an acronym of the organization’s name in any language (and note that the organization’s name in English is not “International Standards Organization”). Instead, “iso” comes from the Greek word “isos,” which means “equal.” Equal to what? They don’t say.

Acronym pronounced by spelling it out.