Javier Escartin

An engineer who loves proposals

Javier Escartin

An engineer who loves proposals

7 bidding and proposals insights about working remotely, asynchronously, and with (almost) no meetings.

Proposal Manager working remotely on a bid for a B2G or B2B RFP
Photo by Simon Abrams

This post presents a compilation of seven insights I’ve experienced personally and talked about in my newsletter to help proposal professionals do better at proposal/bid/grant management and writing.

Some of these topics are covered in detail in different posts in this same blog, so dive into it for more information about processes, best practices, methodologies, techniques, resources, tips, and tricks.

To receive tips, stories, and insights on bidding, proposals, and tech—along with valuable resources—directly in your inbox for free, sign up here: Top Proposals Stuff.

Rethinking Meetings: The Hidden Costs in Proposal Management

In the fast-paced world of proposal management, every minute counts, and meetings can often be a double-edged sword. While collaboration is key, it’s crucial to assess the true cost of meetings, especially when they involve multiple stakeholders.

An hour-long meeting with ten participants isn’t just an hour; it’s an eleven-hour investment when you consider everyone involved. Beyond the direct costs, such as salaries and overheads, the opportunity cost of what these professionals could otherwise achieve with their time is significant. It’s essential to remember that productivity in proposal writing and bid management isn’t measured by time spent in meetings but by the quality and effectiveness of the proposals developed.

Moreover, the disruption to workflow extends beyond the meeting itself, with additional time required for participants to refocus and regain their productivity momentum. This aspect is often overlooked but can significantly impact the overall efficiency of your proposal management team.

To mitigate these costs, consider whether a meeting is the most effective way to achieve your objectives. Could the same outcomes be achieved through a well-crafted email, a shared document with comments, or a quick stand-up meeting? Embracing proposal management best practices involves streamlining communication and ensuring that meetings are purposeful, focused, and as brief as necessary.

For those involved in proposal writing, every moment spent away from developing compelling content, refining proposal writing techniques, or engaging in proposal writing training represents a missed opportunity. As we strive for efficiency in bid management and proposal development, re-evaluating the necessity and structure of meetings can lead to significant gains in productivity and effectiveness.

Trust and Remote Work in Proposal Management

The debate around remote work in proposal management often encounters a common hurdle: the misconception that visibility equals productivity. This notion not only undermines the essence of professional trust but also ignores the true indicators of a team’s efficiency and output. In the world of proposal management, where precision, creativity, and strategic thinking are paramount, the physical presence in an office does not guarantee superior results.

The crux of remote work success lies in trust and professionalism. If a team member is entrusted with the responsibility of managing critical proposals, it speaks volumes about their capability and reliability. The focus should be on the outcomes—quality proposals delivered on time—rather than the location from which one works. Remote work, especially in roles such as proposal writing and bid management, offers flexibility that can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction, which are crucial for retaining top talent.

Leaders and managers in the proposal space must adopt a results-oriented approach, evaluating performance based on the value and results produced rather than hours logged at a desk. Tools and processes for remote work, including project management software and communication platforms, enable transparency and accountability, making it easier to track progress and collaborate effectively, regardless of geography.

For professionals in remote proposal manager jobs or those seeking bid writing jobs remote, the ability to work independently, manage time effectively, and communicate proactively are key to success. The transition to remote work is not just a change of setting; it’s a shift in mindset that prioritizes trust, results, and the acknowledgment that professionals, when given autonomy, can excel and drive success from anywhere.

Mastering the Art of “Zone” Time for Proposal Excellence

In the demanding world of proposal writing, securing a block of uninterrupted time is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity. This “zone” time, where focus meets creativity, is where the best proposals are born. Achieving this state requires a deliberate approach to both entering and safeguarding this productive sanctuary.

To improve proposal writing skills, one must first master the art of getting into the zone. This isn’t an instant switch; it’s a gradual process that might involve rituals or routines that signal to your brain it’s time to dive deep into work. Whether it’s through a specific playlist, a quiet workspace, or a pre-work routine, finding your unique pathway to this state is crucial.

Equally important is protecting this zone. Distractions are not just annoyances; they’re productivity killers, especially when crafting complex documents like proposals. Implementing strategies to minimize interruptions is essential, from setting clear boundaries with colleagues to using technology that limits digital intrusions. The proposal writing process thrives on continuity and focus, making such protective measures non-negotiable.

For those looking to learn proposal writing or enhance their existing skills, consider integrating proposal writing best practices into your “zone” strategy. This might include organizing your proposal writing resources, following a proposal writing diagram for structure, or even adopting specific proposal writing techniques that streamline the creation process.

Remember, the quality of your proposals is not just about the content but also about the mindset and environment in which they’re crafted. By prioritizing and protecting your zone time, you’re not just preserving peace; you’re fostering the conditions for exceptional work that stands out in the competitive arena of bids and proposals.

Optimizing Remote Proposal Management: Strategies for Success

Remote proposal management, often viewed skeptically due to potential distractions, actually holds immense potential for enhancing productivity and team engagement. The key lies not in the location but in effectively mitigating distractions and fostering a conducive work environment. Embracing remote work for proposal teams can lead to increased flexibility, a better work-life balance, and access to a broader talent pool.

To improve proposal writing skills and efficiency in a remote setting, it’s essential to ensure the work is engaging and fulfilling. The nature of proposal work, with its clear goals, deadlines, and the thrill of chasing wins, inherently provides a sense of purpose and achievement. If the proposal work feels monotonous or uninspiring, it might indicate deeper issues within leadership or team dynamics that need addressing.

Creating a distraction-free workspace is crucial for remote proposal professionals. Whether it’s at home or in a local coworking space, a well-set-up work environment can significantly reduce distractions and enhance focus. Investing in proposal writing training that includes modules on effective remote work practices can equip team members with the skills needed to thrive in a remote setting.

Open communication about the challenges and best practices of remote proposal management can foster a supportive team culture. Sharing proposal writing tips and techniques, leveraging online proposal writing workshops, and utilizing proposal management software can facilitate collaboration and maintain high productivity levels, irrespective of physical location.

In conclusion, the shift towards remote proposal management requires a strategic approach focused on engagement, proper workspace setup, continuous training, and open communication. By addressing the root causes of distractions and leveraging the advantages of remote work, proposal teams can achieve higher efficiency, better results, and greater job satisfaction.

Embracing Asynchronous Work in Proposal Management

The shift towards remote work in the proposal industry, accelerated by recent global events, has laid the foundation for an even more transformative change: the adoption of asynchronous (async) work. This evolution promises to redefine not just where but when we work, offering unprecedented flexibility and efficiency.

Async work, by its nature, allows team members to contribute without the immediate need for responses from others, breaking the chains of synchronized schedules and enabling a focus on productivity and quality. This approach is particularly well-suited to proposal management, where tasks often require deep, uninterrupted focus to produce compelling and persuasive documents.

Three Key Benefits of Asynchronous Work in Proposals:

  1. Enhanced Productivity: The async model minimizes disruptions, allowing proposal professionals to achieve a “flow state” more frequently. This deep work environment is conducive to generating higher-quality proposals, ultimately leading to an increase in win rates.
  2. Improved Well-being: Adopting async work supports healthier work-life integration, respecting individual circadian rhythms and personal commitments. This flexibility can lead to improved job satisfaction, reduced stress, and a more positive work environment.
  3. Seamless Integration with Remote Work: The nature of proposal management—with its clear deadlines, distinct tasks, and less frequent need for immediate crisis resolution—makes it an ideal candidate for async workflows. This model complements remote work by further enhancing autonomy and efficiency.

As the proposal community explores the potential of async work, it’s crucial to foster open dialogues about best practices, tools, and strategies to make this transition as smooth and beneficial as possible. Sharing experiences, challenges, and successes in adopting async workflows will be key to unlocking the full potential of this approach in our field.

By moving towards an asynchronous model, we’re not just changing the timing of our work; we’re reimagining the very structure of collaboration and productivity in proposal management. This shift holds the promise of not only better proposals but also a more balanced, fulfilling professional life for proposal experts everywhere.

Rethinking the “ASAP” Culture in Proposal Management

The term “ASAP” (As Soon As Possible) has become ubiquitous in workplaces around the globe, often symbolizing urgency and high priority. However, its overuse, especially in the context of proposal management, can have detrimental effects on team efficiency, productivity, and overall well-being.

Inflation of Urgency: Constantly labeling tasks as ASAP dilutes the meaning of urgency. When everything is a top priority, it becomes challenging to discern what truly requires immediate attention. This “inflation” of urgency can lead to prioritization chaos, where critical tasks are lost in a sea of supposed emergencies.

Obstacle to Asynchronous Work: The ASAP mentality is particularly disruptive to remote proposal teams that could greatly benefit from asynchronous work. Asynchronous work allows for flexibility in schedules, enabling team members to contribute their best work at their peak productivity times. Insisting on ASAP responses can hinder this flexibility, reducing the potential for deep, focused work necessary for crafting compelling proposals.

Reserve Emergency Language for Real Emergencies: It’s crucial to distinguish between genuine emergencies and routine tasks. Real emergencies — situations that could lead to significant financial losses, jeopardize jobs, or even endanger lives — warrant the use of urgent language. Using ASAP for everyday tasks desensitizes the team to true urgency, potentially leading to a lackluster response when a real crisis occurs.

To foster a more productive and healthy work environment, it’s important to move away from the ASAP culture. Instead, adopt clear, prioritized task management practices that respect the team’s time and promote a balanced approach to urgency. This shift not only enhances the quality of work but also contributes to a more sustainable, less stressful work life for proposal professionals.

Unlocking Time-Shifting in Proposal Management

The future of proposal management is asynchronous and remote, opening a realm of possibilities previously confined by traditional office hours and geography. By embracing this shift, we can effectively “slow time,” turning time zone differences from a challenge into a strategic advantage, particularly for quick-turn proposals.

Imagine the efficiency of a global team working in a relay, passing the baton from one time zone to the next, ensuring continuous progress on proposals. This approach allows for inputs to be given at the end of one team’s day and for another team to pick up the work, providing updates by the next morning. It’s like having a 24-hour operation without the need for night shifts, enhancing responsiveness and turnaround times.

However, this model’s success hinges on reducing dependency on synchronous meetings. Meetings, while valuable for alignment and decision-making, can hinder the full potential of asynchronous work. To truly leverage this “time-shifting” power, proposal teams must adopt robust proposal management methodologies, communication tools, and knowledge management systems that support asynchronous collaboration.

This strategy isn’t about cost-cutting through offshoring; it’s about attracting and managing top talent across time zones, allowing them to contribute at their peak productivity times. By doing so, proposal teams can enhance their proposal writing skills, bid management processes, and overall proposal quality, staying ahead in competitive markets where speed and agility are paramount.

In summary, for teams willing to embrace remote and asynchronous work, the opportunity to transform proposal management through time-shifting is immense. This approach not only maximizes global talent but also introduces a new level of efficiency and effectiveness in responding to RFPs, setting the stage for the future of winning proposals.

Javier Escartin
Hey! It's me, Javi, an engineer who loves proposals with 12+ years in the field. First, as an employee for big Government RFPs, then freelancing for technology companies, and now primarily focused on running DeepRFP.com, a kit of 15+ AI tools designed for bidding that I founded. Oh! And I talk proposals all day long with the 2000+ professionals in my newsletter. Join us to get top proposals stuff for free! ↓↓↓

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Hey! It’s me, Javi. Just a quick note: if AI in proposals is something that interests you, I go deep dive with particular use cases here: DeepRFP/blog, such as, for example, executive summaries, compliance matrices, outlines, color teams, assessments, and more. It is also where you can try 15+ AI bidding tools for free.

Javier Escartin

Javier Escartin

Hey! It's me, Javi, an engineer who loves proposals with 12+ years in the field. First, as an employee for big Government RFPs, then freelancing for technology companies, and now primarily focused on running DeepRFP.com, a kit of 15+ AI tools designed for bidding that I founded. Oh! And I talk proposals all day long with the 2000+ professionals in my newsletter. Join us to get top proposals stuff for free! ↓↓↓

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At jescartin.com (owned by DeepRFP, S.L.U.), we will process your information in order to send you thoughts on proposals and technology, which could include the promotion of related products and services. You may exercise your rights of access, rectification, limitation, opposition, portability, or withdraw consent by contacting stuff@jescartin.com. Further details in the Privacy Policy.