‘Submission’ is used as a generic term, and includes tenders, quotes, proposals and any form of response document. This article was written for The “Australian Project Manager” and published in 1987. It’s very relevant today!
Let’s ask a few key questions about submissions in your Company:
1) Who is preparing, writing and negotiating submissions?
2) How many man/woman hours are spent in preparing, writing and negotiating submissions?
3) What range of projects and clients has been canvassed by your submissions over the past twelve months?
4) How many and which submissions have been accepted over the past twelve months?
5) Are your projects managed and completed according to your original submissions, or are changes and amendments to schedules and details happening too often?
6) How much repeat work are you getting, and how often are you invited to submit?
These questions will spark off even more in your own mind as you pick up the intent of the question ‘how seriously does your Company take the matter of submissions?’
A submission is a marketing document, marketing your Company’s ability, capacity, credibility, dependability, knowledge, expertise, experience and responsible management.
It promotes and portrays WHAT your Company is willing and able to do, HOW it will implement and manage the project, WHO will be involved, at what stage, and the level of and extent of expertise and experience they will individually and collectively bring to the project.
Most importantly, it will convince the reader WHY they should seriously consider YOUR offer.
A submission does not stand alone – your Company’s public image and reputation out in the market-place will be influencing the reader, so it is essential that you know how your Company is seen and perceived out there!
If your Company is seen to have particular strengths, you need to emphasise these in your Submission.
If your Company is seen to have particular weaknesses, you need to provide information and examples to show this is not the case.
But in order to do either, you need to know how your Company is seen out there.
How much energy do you put into ’market research’?
A Submission must have the commitment of your Company behind it. Each claim and statement must be able to be verified, every figure must be able to be justified, and every offer must be able to be carried through and honoured.
Are your Submissions prepared and presented to this level of propriety?
Is your Company prepared to stand behind every Submission to this degree?
A Submission must be clear, concise, and confidently expressed. Your intention and guiding principle must always be to make the assessment and comprehension of your Submission as easy as possible for the reader. The skill of writing is a technical one, selecting from the mass of information available to you only that which is the most appropriate, the most descriptive, and the most applicable to the reader and the project itself.
Some of the decisions your submission-writers will have to make will be:
- How much detail to include,
- What is the reader looking for, what is their measure of assessing and choosing the successful bid or offer,
- How can we convince the reader without making our involvement unnecessary or under-valued, and
- How do we make our document and presentation different and more persuasive than others.
Much of this will be decided by your submission-writing team’s knowledge and experience.
A submission depends on your Company’s negotiating skills. This involves communicating your ideas and commitment, receiving and analysing the reactions and responses of the reader, and gathering knowledge of the needs, wants, resources, strategies, finances, priorities and deadlines of the potential Client.
It requires respect for the image, reputation and purpose of both parties – especially for the idea or concept you are offering.
The extent and degree of commitment to your idea or concept, and intensive knowledge of the details involved, will fuel the level of support and enthusiasm you are seeking. This does not infer an evangelistic enthusiasm, but rather an ability to make valid comment, challenge existing attitudes, respond to any and every criticism and query with facts, solutions, verifications, imagination and excitement.
Your Company’s negotiators must be familiar with the content and process of preparation of your Submission. Ideally, they should be the submission-writers.
Submission-writing must be among your Company’s top priorities! Submissions may well be the life-line to your Company’s prosperity. Don’t ever under-value this life-line. Make sure your best people are involved in their preparation, presentation and negotiation.
The market-place is extremely competitive – and your Submissions have to be similarly competitive, AND SUCCESSFUL!