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Proposal Writing Checklist

Preparing a proposal can be an arduous task at the best of times.

Over the years, we have learnt that having a proposal checklist at hand can reduce the stress levels and avoid those last minute howlers, such as the case of a bidder that printed the proposal WITH track changes left turned on.

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With that in mind, we’ve compiled this list to get you through the process as smoothly as possible.

1.  The Request For Proposal

  • Get a complete copy of Request For Proposal and all supporting documents. 
  • Distribute the RFP to all team members.
  • Get confirmation that they have received the proposal. 
  • Decide to Bid/No Bid.
  • Bid — Review RFP and other documents for missing pages/sections. 
  • Prepare clarification questions. 
  • Review clarification responses.
  • No Bid — Inform agency if required.

2.  Partners

  • Identify potential partners/consortium.
  • Examine any potential conflict of interest.
  • Determine partnership arrangement, e.g. who will lead. 
  • Prepare teaming agreements. 
  • Receive signed agreements back from partners. 
  • Determine each partner's level of effort for project. 
  • Determine resource requirements from partners and consultants.

3.  Proposal Strategy

  • Organize strategy meetings. Circulate all meeting minutes.
  • Identify the partnership's strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Identify the competition and their strengths and weakness. 
  • Identify ways to differentiate your partnership from the competition. 
  • Develop a winning strategy.
  • Prepare the bid team. Ensure that they are all available.

4.  Technical Proposal

  • Prepare the draft outline. 
  • Identify writers for each section.  Identify graphic artist is required.
  • Prepare proposal template. Include list of nomenclature, abbreviations, acronyms etc.   
  • Circulate relevant sections from past proposals to writing team. 
  • Circulate sections to team members before writing starts.
  • Prepare schedule with due dates for draft sections. 
  • Determine review, feedback and editing process. 
  • Ensure compatibility of software packages e.g. MS Word.  

5.  Personnel

  • Prepare personnel checklists. 
  • Prepare commitment letter(s) for signature by candidates. 
  • Recruit long-term staff and consultants. 
  • Collect, sort and review CVs. 
  • Identify best candidates. Confirm interest/availability. 
  • Obtain signed letters of commitment from candidates. 
  • Review personnel checklists. 
  • Determine format for proposal CVs. Re-write CVs. 
  • Prepare skills matrices.

6.  References

  • Use RFP format if required. 
  • Update and/or prepare past performance information as needed. 
  • Review for accuracy and completeness.
  • Contact references in advance to check their availability.

7.  Packaging

  • Select cover design (map, picture, graphic, etc.). 
  • Identify info for cover (RFP #, date, submitted to/by, etc.). 
  • Prepare cover (in PhotoShop as GIF image). 
  • Determine packaging requirements. 
  • Purchase any material that will be required e.g. binders, notebooks, CD covers
  • Ensure sufficient quantities of all packaging items are available.
  • Keep critical key items in reserve e.g. high-quality paper, color toner etc

8.  Finishing Touches

  • Spellcheck, proofread and technical edit all sections. 
  • Gather appendix materials, e.g. product case studies and datasheets. 
  • Prepare Inside Cover Sheet for Technical Proposal. 
  • Prepare Section Tabs/Dividers for Technical Proposal.
  • Check color printer availability. Check toner supply.

9.  Productions

  • Determine who will oversee production. 
  • Print copies. Keep one hardcopy as reference.
  • Insert special pages, charts, etc., if required. 
  • Insert appendix materials. 
  • Check pages in each copy for legibility. 
  • Check graphics for legibility. 
  • Check hyperlinks are correct e.g. on CD. 
  • Check for page omissions
  • Check for page duplications e.g. same page/section printed twice.

10.  Proposal Delivery/Logistics

Preparations for Delivery

  • Obtain packaging materials (boxes, wrapping paper, tape). 
  • Purchase box handle (if needed for hand carrying). 
  • Prepare labels for the package (and the CD if required). 
  • Mark "original" on one copy. 
  • Mark "copy" on other copies. 


  • Check courier service schedules (# days required for delivery). 
  • Affix "proposal" label. 
  • Affix outside address label. Check that it is legible.

Personal Delivery

  • Identify person to carry proposal. Confirm availability.
  • Make airline/hotel reservations if required. 
  • Affix "proposal" label. 
  • Affix outside address label. Check that it is legible.
  • Provide receipt to person who will hand-carry proposal.

Let us know if we have missed anything here.

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