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The Importance of Details

Contract and proposal management are based on reading every written word in any requirement—be it a Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Quotation (RFQ), any other solicitation, or contractual document. They are about understanding requirements, and making sure you are reading, in detail, every aspect of the requirement you are trying to meet. No shortcuts are allowed.

By Rick Riordan

Years ago, one of my very first “bosses” told me point blank:  we don’t expect you to know all the answers BUT (there is always a but) we DO expect you to know where to get the answers. I have never forgotten that.

Subsequently, as I worked my way through being a warranty analyst for a commercial engine manufacturer at a Fortune 500 company, and as a proposal manager involved in multi-hundreds of millions of dollar procurements, as a sales & marketing director, as a contract/proposal manager for an engine overhaul facility, or most recently as a contracts officer for multiple small business Department of Defense (DoD)/government procurement organizations, I have never forgotten that the “devil is in the details.” Most individuals don’t focus on the details and that is what I do.

I am the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a pretty good idea of where to get them, based on the specific business requirements—whether large, medium or small business. One size doesn’t fit all, so don’t just “copy and paste” your answer in, which is the all too familiar response.

My point is this: most individuals—regardless of position in the company—don’t focus on the details in the way that proposal and contract management individuals do. That is what we do and what we are trained to do. What we are certified to do. What we have spent the past x number of years doing. This is what I do. I find out what you have, I organize what needs organizing, I highlight areas of concern, I implement better procedures and processes, I organize your files, I organize your functional duties so the next individual that takes on the job has a platform to work from. I allow executive decisions to be made based on data, not assumptions. And revised based on updated data. Business is not stagnant; it is ever evolving. And facts/data assist in that evolution. Here’s a specific example of how I do this.

What I have noticed almost across the board in every company I have supported in the past is a lack of processes and procedures for tracking proposals that ultimately lead to contracts. Most companies seem to treat the proposal process as a completely separate activity from the contract management process—and it isn’t. It is critical companies understand that when they bid on opportunities, and get selected, the actual final contract must align with the submitted proposal Performance Work Statement (PWS), Statement of Work (SOW), general terms and conditions, etc. If you believe what you submit is what gets awarded, in most instances, you are mistaken. I pay attention to these details and allow you to respond to any discrepancies in the best interest of the parties.

In the end, the mission of my effort is the same. Every job or requirement I work, even today, I either know or look for the answers—and work with the team to find the best solution for the client, and the customer, and the company, and the procuring agency/​organization.

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Published on April 17, 2020 by

Dick Eassom, CF APMP Fellow