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Give your Executive Summary an Extra Edge In Five Quick Steps

Starting to write the Executive Summary while your Bid Manager is proofing the proposal is probably the worst time to undertake this activity.

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If you resort to digging out an old tender and going File, Save As, you’re in trouble!

Preparing a proposal requires a considerable investment by the bidding company both in terms of human resources and financial costs.

Regardless of your proposal’s technical integrity, if the Executive Summary starts on a flat note, the Evaluators are unlikely to continue reading with much expectation.

A dull, clichéd opening says, “I’m not that interested, but I’ll send this in anyway”.

The likelihood that you’ll win any business is very slim.

So, what can you do to change this?

Here are a few suggestions to get you up and running.

1. Introduce Yourself

First off, thank the government agency for the opportunity to bid; refer to the bid by its official name.

Then, in a single paragraph, describe your:

  • Company background

  • Key personnel – those who will be allocated to the project

  • Selling points – for example, that you were the first company in the country to implement product X, certifications, similar project implementations.

2. Expertise

Follow this up in two paragraphs, describing previous related projects.

Demonstrate that you care about this sector and have invested heavily with demonstrable results.

In a word, show that you are committed.

3. Core Offering

Demonstrate in two-three paragraphs that you have read the RFP (and are not just cutting and pasting from it) and explain how your solution matches
their needs.

As always, don’t just say it, demonstrate it.

Highlight three key benefits that illustrate this. For example, one from each of these:

  • Business Benefits

  • Technology Benefits

  • Strategic Benefits

Support this with market data, e.g. 75% of US Banks use WebSphere because of XYZ according to Gartner Dataquest.

4. Implementation

Never underestimate the importance evaluators give to Project Management.

Business Proposal - Work Breakdown Structure

They assume that you can supply the software etc—but how will you manage the project?

  • What’s your approach to change control?

  • What risks and issues have you identified?

  • What contingencies have you in place?

  • At a high-level, describe how the solution will be implemented and delivered, including the estimated man-days, e.g. the project will be delivered in 1500 days, with your 25 man-team using X technology, in conjunction with your Team Leader at Y locations.

5. Summing Up

Repeat the main point(s) very briefly and lead into the next chapter.

Remember to sign the executive summary in person.

On a final note, you might consider writing a first draft very early on. Then put it aside for a few days; get it out when you have time, and refine it over a few drafts. The final draft will have a considerably stronger and persuasive message.

Tell us what you think about writing executive summaries.

How long or short should they should be? What’s the best tip you can give to someone whose about to write their first executive summaries?

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