Everybody reviews their proposals (or should!) right before submission – and usually more than once and by more than one person. You can call it what you want:  Pink Team review, review of initial draft documents, Red Team review, whatever. You’ve checked to see that you’ve hit all of the customer’s hot buttons, emphasized your win themes, cross checked the paragraph and page numbers, made sure you’ve talked about everything that the government has asked for in their solicitation and your boss(es) have made sure that the price is something they can live with.

So what do you check when you’re getting ready to submit your proposal? It’s too late now to worry about “win themes” and whether or not you decided to include a graphic (or not) on the cover. But sometimes, the most obvious oversights happen here.

  • You know that you had put the documents in front of the boss for signature, so you know that everything that has to be signed, is. But, check the signature anyway! Trust me, when you flip through the entire document (three of you maybe), one of you will catch where there’s a signature missing. And check the dates! Make sure it says 2020 instead of accidentally being signed in February 2019, for example. Make double sure that the Proposal Matrix (if required) is signed one more time. And included (signed!) in the proposal.
  • Have all of the Amendments been signed in acknowledgement of receipt? And been included in the proposal submittal?
  • Is the solicitation number where the RFP has dictated, and is it correct?
  • Does your proposal submittal require the delivery of CDs or DVDs or, worse yet, paper copies? Have you checked all of the pages in every volume to make sure you don’t have some random blank pages or pages that are skewed on the page? Or so blurry that they can’t be read?
  • Do the CD’s or DVD’s that you painstakingly cut and covered with your cover information, actually work in any machine that you stick them in? Have you made enough to meet what the government asked for?
  • Is (are) the address(es) that the documents are to be shipped to (yes, some agencies require delivery of proposals to more than one destination and individual) correct and complete?
  • Has the package been double wrapped as required by DoD security regulations, if applicable?
  • Has your delivery driver gotten the exact directions to the delivery point, including the rules for gaining access to military and other government installations? Does he know what time (locally!) he has to have the package in the hands of the correct recipient for the government? Does he know that he might have to wait for an hour or so to clear security and the main gate just to get on his way to the actual delivery point?

I’m sure that I haven’t covered everything here that you might check just prior to shipping, but I can tell you that over my 20 years in the proposal business, I have known these oversights to happen that should have been caught by one last check of every single item above.  It’s an awful feeling to know that your proposal runs the risk of being tossed out because of a missing form or signature. Or worse, it didn’t make it into the Government’s hands prior to the due time on the due date, so it might as well have been chucked in the trash.

Believe me, large businesses who have been in this very competitive environment for decades, have seen things go awry that never should have. That’s why they have an “all hands” call where everyone who is even remotely available drops what they are doing and comes to the proposal production room to do a “white glove” check of all of the books, CDs, DVDs, or online submittal docs, for the very things listed above, just before you hit “send.” Nothing hurts worse than failure from an administrative error that could have been caught.