Seminar Highlights and Follow-on: Quality is Key

Thank you to everyone who attended today’s seminar. We went over the proposal execution schedule and highlighted areas where quality can be built in to the effort to prevent last ditch cleanup efforts. Highlights included:

– Know how you and your team define quality

– At the beginning:
Build a schedule with a cushion at the end for repairs
Create the bones of the proposal before even starting work (e.g., template(s), standards)
Build your compliance matrix and review with the team
Train your team on the standards, matrix, and template
Hold an overarching solution review
Storyboard before writing
Know your win themes

– Once your team is rolling:
Check in often with daily checkpoints and color team reviews
Redirect as needed
Hold a one voice effort as soon as possible
Final compliance matrix review

A follow on question was submitted regarding how to manage quality when you are a single writer with minimal oversight until the end. Great question! You can tackle this a couple of ways:
1. Engage often with your Proposal Manager. See if you can get some samples of other people’s writing to see what their standards are.
2. Create your own standards, templates, and compliance matrix to use. Even if you can’t one voice with the rest of the team, you can at least provide a consistent, quality product.

What other quality activities would you add?

February Professional Development Seminar Summary

<On behalf of Planning Chair, Andrea Canerossi>

Thank you to our 17 participants in yesterday’s professional development and networking seminar! It was an informative session with multiple great questions. For those unable to attend, we did record the meeting and are in the process of converting it to a web format, which will we host to the website.

We would like to especially thank our speakers, Jack and Sandy Bailey, for sharing their expertise and part of their own capture / bid toolbox. The feedback from participants was extremely positive so we look forward to your next session later this year on competitive analysis (that’s right, folks – spoilers!).

Main takeaways from last night’s seminar included:
– Have a process for how you conduct your captures and then your bid and proposal activities
– Have a toolbox of frequently used / referenced resources to expedite your capture activities
– Map these resources to your process so that you know when and how to use them to your best advantage
– Try multiple different research options by strategically spacing out free trials
– Don’t share your resources too widely – they’re what you use to create value in your process

Next month’s presentation will be by our very own Chapter Secretary, Bill Allen! Bill will be discussing ways to improve your color team reviews so that you can get the most out of them and deliver a winning proposal. The evite information will be released in the next week, so stay tuned.

We are still building out the speaking schedule for June through December. If you would like to be a presenter, please send a note to If you have an APMP certification, presenting counts for 10 CEUs.

January Seminar Highlights

Thank you to our speakers, Steve Canerossi and Sandy Bailey, who provided a great panel discussion on starting, managing, and growing your own proposal business. Below are some of the key take-aways:

1. Have a pipeline of work lined up before launching your business
2. Get an accountant to help with setting up your business and doing the business’s taxes
3. Apply for any certificates for the business prior to opening your doors
4. Network, network, network – it’s the best way to grow your business

Thank you as well to our participants! You helped keep the discussion lively and focused on relevant topics.

Next month, we will be hosting another seminar in Huntsville. The topic will be on building an electronic tool of useful links to increase the quality of your pursuit, while reducing time and effort. Most capture managers rely on a small handful of internet links (URL’s) in support of their capture effort. Consequently, their B&P expenditure time-to-pursue is higher and quality of the solution is lower. Our speakers, Jack Bailey and Sandy Bailey, will provide a large list of links and orient the attendees to them. We’ll send out the Eventbrite link in the next couple of days so watch your email boxes.

Board Message: End of the Year

Hello, fellow Mid-South Chapter of APMP members!
It’s been a great year for our chapter.  We’ve continued our exponential growth across the southeast region, with our membership numbers continuing to climb.  We’ve grown our social media footprint, doubling our following across all platforms.  We’ve migrated our website to a new hosting platform, refreshing our look.  We’ve also hosted great speakers this year as we focus on continued professional development for our members and networking opportunities.

2017 is shaping up to be another great year.  Our Chapter Board Members are changing up, bringing in new faces, energy, and goals.  We’ll be looking to continue our great speaker series and would like to continue to showcase our members expertise; if interested in speaking, please contact our Planning Chair at  We are also interested in knowing which topics may interest the chapter, so if you have ideas for speaker topics, please send a note to our Planning Chair as well.

We’ll also be looking to establish committees to help our Board Members continue to deliver ongoing benefits of the chapter to you, our members.  This includes committees for Sponsorship, Communications, Website, and Planning.  If interested in supporting a committee, please contact one of our Board Members. Committee participation is based on your availability rather than a set number of hours per month as any help is always appreciated.

We are looking forward to a great next year and wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and happy new year!

The Mid-South Chapter’s Two Year Anniversary

 | President/Polaris Systems – Proposal Management

Almost two years ago, 18 of us met and decided we would form the Mid-South Chapter of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP).  On June 20, 2013 our charter was approved and we have been running hard ever since.   Please help us celebrate the two year anniversary of the Mid-South Chapter by recognizing our past accomplishments and preparing for future growth.

  1. Membership Growth – Our membership has more than quadrupled in the last two year. From a base of 18 charter member in Huntsville, Alabama, we have grown to 78 members in the greater Mid-South region with two-thirds of our membership in Alabama and Tennessee. We need your help to help us grow the chapter to 144 members by the end of the year. Spread the word.
  2. Monthly Meetings – We’ve held 21 monthly meetings in Huntsville, Birmingham, and Nashville. All meetings are presented live through Go-To-Meeting for those of you that cannot attend a meeting in person. In August Sedgwick hosts our first meeting in Memphis.  We are looking forward to some great Memphis barbeque and making new friends.
  3. New Sponsors – Our corporate sponsorship has also grown. We currently have eleven sponsors and we need four more to meet this year’s goal of fifteen. For a nominal annual fee, sponsors get their logo on our website and monthly meeting presentations.  They also get to give a short pitch about their company at one of our monthly meetings.  Sponsorships are critical to conducting meetings in cities outside the Huntsville area.  Please thank our sponsors.

To all the members and sponsors, thank you for making this this a great two years.  I look forward to seeing you at our next monthly meeting on Jun 9, 2015. Register at

Happy Anniversary!

Simple Always Wins!

 | President/Polaris Systems – Proposal Management

I’ve found that we often propose overly complicated solutions when we write a response to a request for a proposal. We highlight one or two non-critical tasks, try to describe a process we cannot clearly articulate, and miss important tasks. We tend to write pages of text about the one thing we know best, although that thing may only be a small part of the overall solution.  The result is often an incoherent, complicated solution that is hard to evaluate.  Try the following seven steps to simply your response and improve your chances of winning.

  1. Identify the problem you are trying to solve – Start with the end in mind. This is the output of your process. Write it down. Everything that follows must support this step.
  2. Identify the required inputs – Chances are you need information or materials from some other section of the proposal or even from the customer. Leave these out and you risk demonstrating a lack of understanding.
  3. Identity all the tasks you need to accomplish in solving the problem – Brainstorm and ask tough questions. Sticky notes and whiteboards are your friend, here. They give you the flexibility to move and network the tasks; to arrange them a logical sequence.
  4. Highlight the tasks that provide value in the eyes of the customer – These are the things that the customer is willing to pay for. If it were easy, they would not need you. Highlighting critical tasks demonstrates understanding. Include a feedback loop to allow for quality checks, flexibility, and feedback.
  5. Eliminate the non-value added tasks – If a task does not contribute to the solution, leave it out. If the customer is not willing to pay for it (even if it adds value), leave it out. In short, if a task does not directly add value in the eyes of the customer, leave it out.
  6. Simplify the process and illustrate the tasks in a logical sequence – There should be a clear flow to the sequence of the tasks. I like left to right, top to bottom and lines that do not cross. If it’s not clean, rearrange the tasks. If there are too many tasks, see where you can cut and combine. Go back to step 3 to make sure you included everything. Make sure it solves the problem.
  7. Write a clear, concise description of your process – Use the finished process as a graphic in your proposal. Once you have a clean process, you have something simple to write to.

A complicated solution may provide the desired results, but it is hard to positively evaluate.  The chances are that it includes tasks that the customer does not want to pay for, misses key tasks that facilitate understanding, and focuses on unimportant aspects of the process.  Remember, simple always wins!

Succeed With Your APMP Certification

 | President/Polaris Systems – Proposal Management

Succeed With Your APMP Certification

I have often been asked about the value of earning certifications such as the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) certification. APMP has three levels of certification – Foundation, Practitioner, and Professional. Each is increasing more difficult to earn and demonstrates a higher level of competence. Here are three reasons to earn your APMP certification.

  1. Earn More Money. I’ve always suspected that a certification could earn you more money. My suspicions were confirmed when I read APMP’s 2015 Compensation Report. The average APMP Practitioner earns 18% more than the average Proposal Manager. The average APMP Professionals earn almost 31% more than the average Proposal Manager. If you want to earn more money, here’s the proof you need. Trying to fill that vacancy at the next higher level? The APMP certification can be the difference between getting that promotion and watching get filled by an outsider.
  2. Gain Credibility. Submitting a compliant proposal gets harder each year as buyers add more and more complicated requirements. You cannot speak intelligently on request for proposal requirements if you do not understand them. Earning the APMP Foundation certification shows that you have extensive knowledge and understanding of best practices in the proposal process. The APMP Practitioner shows that you have a mastery of how to apply best practices and lead others in their use. The APMP Professional say you can contribute significantly to your organization with proven leadership and communication skills. The APMP certification gives you the credibility you need.
  3. Demonstrate Commitment. It takes time and dedication to earn a certification, especially at the higher levels. It shows you care about your career and profession. This is the type of commitment to a challenging task that employers identify with.

Earning your APMP certification can give you the edge you need. You can earn more money, gain instant credibility, and demonstrate your commitment. Start today. Become a member of APMP, study, and take the exam. Check out this link to learn more about the APMP certification process.

Why The Mid-South Chapter of APMP

 | President/Polaris Systems – Proposal Management

Why The Mid-South Chapter of APMP

I am often asked about the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) and the Mid-South Chapter (  Chief questions include: who are we and why should I join the chapter and attend the meetings? APMP is the worldwide authority for professionals dedicated to the process of winning business through proposals, bids, tenders, and presentations. APMP promotes the professional growth of its members by advancing the arts, sciences, and technologies of winning business. As our name implies, our Chapter covers the Mid-South region.  Here are three good reasons for joining the Chapter and attending the monthly meetings.

1 – Networking with proposal professionals in the Mid-South Region. Each month we get a chance to reconnect with old friends, make a few new ones, and learn about potential employment opportunities. I cannot think of a better way to discover what is happening in the proposal development community.

2 – Strengthen your skills with training, education, and certifications. This is my favorite.  Each meeting provides a different speaker to bring new a prospective to my chosen profession. Topics cover the spectrum from Commercial to Aerospace proposals, oral presentations and winning proposal techniques, to APMP certifications.  I get a chance to learn new approaches and tips for improving my proposal development skills every month.

3 – Access hundreds of best practice articles, presentations, and member searches.  There is a wealth of information on the APMP website.  You can find industry information, surveys and research, white papers and industry briefs, webinars, and the APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK). If you need it, you can probably find it here.

Give the Mid-South Chapter of APMP a chance and join us for our next meeting!

  • Who: Proposal and Business Development Professionals
  • What: Monthly APMP Meeting