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Manual and Guidelines for proposal Writing

A strong Business Proposal could win you the winning contract. Business proposals are developed for one of two possible reasons. (1) A business entity has called for tenders or has invited you to submit a RFP (Request for Proposal). In this case, your goal is to be "short listed," meaning that you will be one of the three or four bidders who is awarded an interview. Your proposal must stand among possibly dozens of submissions. (2) Or (2) You have a product which you want to propose to someone with the goal of gaining support, funding or an alliance. In this case, there is no competitive bidding process. However, your proposal must make a favourable impression and must explain all aspects of your proposed concept clearly and quickly. A document that is vaguely written, difficult to understand or that presents more questions than answers will likely be discarded promptly.

The following is a set of guidelines for a business proposal 1. Clarity. Before you begin to write the proposal, summarize the concept in 2-3 sentences, keep it as precise and simple as you can. For this ensure that you have understood what you wish to convey. 2. Strive to communicate, not to impress. If you have a good idea and you communicate that idea clearly and effectively, the recipients will be impressed. If you try to baffle them with your brilliance, you'll lose ground. 3. Error Free: Your proposal will be competing with proposals prepared by professional writers, graphic designers and desktop publishers. You may not have those resources at your disposal, but you can be fastidious about checking for typing, spelling and grammatical errors. Spell checkers can only go so far; the rest is up to you. Ask someone else to check your document for errors before you submit it, or wait a few days before rereading it. If you have worked on a document intensely, you will "learn" to interpret errors as being correct. It takes a fresh eye to spot the typos.

4. Print and Bind: Print your document on good quality, heavy- bond paper, using either a laser printer or a good-quality bubble jet. Take it to an office service for backing and binding. For less than $10, you can produce a nicely done, professionally presented package. 5. Layout: When laying out your document, format it so the body of the text appears in the right twothirds of the page. The one-third of the page to the left contains titles and white space. The white space to the left allows the reader to make notes. This sounds like a trivial matter, but it elicits positive reactions from recipients. 6. Visual Elements: Include visual elements sporadically throughout your document. Logos, clip art, graphs, charts, tables and other elements greatly enhance the visual appeal of your document and make it easier for many people to read and comprehend. Pages of pure text are tiring to the eye and a challenge to the attention span. Additionally, many people are visually oriented, meaning the preferred method of learning is through imagery and not text. 7. Title Page. Begin with a Title Page that includes images (graphics, pictures, etc.), the name of the proposal recipient, the name of the project, your company name and address, the date, and your copyright symbol. 8. Be Politically Correct. Whether you support political correctness or whether you don't, the issue here is to avoid offending the people who will receive your proposal document. Avoid any language that can be construed as offensive to any group of people - including women, men, persons with disabilities, persons belonging to visible minorities, senior citizens, and so on. If you're not certain of correct terminology, consult with someone knowledgeable before submitting your proposal. 9. Write for Global Audiences: Emerging technologies, immigration policies and agreements like NAFTA have produced a global marketplace. Documents nowadays should be written with the understanding that they may be evaluated by persons living in other countries or by persons for whom English is a second language. Even if you are submitting your proposal to a local business, they may well have joint ventures with international companies, and these companies may be asked to peruse your document. Unless your proposal is local to a specific geographic area, avoid references that would not be understood by persons living in other areas (or explain these

references if you must use them). Also, avoid the use of slang or expressions from pop culture. When persons from other cultures study the English language, they are taught to speak formal, correct English. They are often unfamiliar with the use of slang terms. 10. Jargon Free: Every industry has its own particular "language" - words, terms and expressions that are common to that industry but foreign to people from other industries. Avoid the use of jargon, or if you must use it, explain it. For example, expressions like "branding," "turnkey solution," "E-commerce" are not necessarily understood by everyone who is doing business. Also remember that your proposal may go to a committee that is comprised of people from various walks of life. Make sure they understand what you are talking about. 11. Technology. What was just said about jargon goes double for technology. If your proposed project involves the use of technologies, be very careful with your explanation. The persons reading the document may have little or no technological background. Therefore, in the body of the proposal, it's usually recommended that you explain your technology in terms of what it will do - i.e. "A data base that members can use to search for information about your products." There is a place for detailed information about the technology that you are proposing - and that spot is the appendix. In many cases, a non-technically oriented business will engage a technology consultant to review your proposed technology. This person can use the detailed explanations that you include in the appendix while other readers will be able understand the proposal itself.

12. Keep your companys logo and pattern in mind right across the proposal design and format. You are writing a proposal for your company; ensure that you follow the format. Never disturb format without consent from a relevant authority. Keep these guidelines in mind and you will be off to a good start with your next business proposal!

Request for Proposal (RFP)

A Request for Proposal (RFP), is the primary document that is sent to suppliers that invites them to submit a proposal to provide goods or services. Internally, an RFP can also be referred to as a sourcing project, a document, or an associated event (competitive bidding). Unlike a Request for Information (RFI) or a Request for Quotation (RFQ), an RFP is designed to get suppliers to provide a creative solution to a business problem or issue. RFPs should be used carefully since they can take a lot of time for both the organization and its suppliers. However, for more complex projects, an RFP may be the most effective way to source the goods or services required. When to Use an RFP Purchasing personnel should not use an RFP when they are only requesting information from suppliers, want merely pricing information, or only want to engage in a competitive bidding scenario. An RFP does make use of competitive bidding (this is an effective way to source), but an RFP should not be used if cost is the sole or main evaluation criteria. An RFP should be used when a project is sufficiently complex that it warrants a proposal from a supplier. RFPs are helpful when supplier creativity and innovative approaches to problems are needed. It is important to remember that the RFP process can take a significant amount of time to complete and could result in delays to the start of the project. Therefore, it only makes sense to use this when the benefits from obtaining supplier proposals are greater than the extra time it takes to prepare the RFP and to manage the RFP process. Benefits One of the main benefits that can arise if the RFP process is handled well is that the organization will have a good handle on the potential project risks for a complex project. The organization will also understand the prospective benefits that it can realize during the course of the project. Using an RFP also encourages suppliers to submit organized proposals that can be evaluated using a quantifiable methodology. In addition, an RFP lets suppliers know that the situation will be competitive. The competitive bidding scenario is often the best method available for obtaining the best pricing and, if done correctly, the best value. An RFP also gives purchasing personnel and project stakeholders the ability to visualize how the project will go and the approach that the suppliers will use to complete it. Drawbacks There are several drawbacks to using an RFP. First, they can be extremely time consuming for purchasing personnel. Second, they can be extremely time consuming for suppliers. Some suppliers will look at the RFP and will choose not to participate because it would take them too long to respond. These suppliers may also become discouraged and feel that a low chance of winning precludes them from investing the time required to create the proposal. Third, it can often be very difficult to accurately summarize the requirements for the project. This can lead to poor supplier responses or poor pricing since the supplier did not really know what the organization was looking to purchase. Finally, it can be more difficult to accurately score or assess supplier responses to an RFP since they can be lengthy, detailed, or require specialized knowledge to evaluate.

Key Elements A well designed Request for Proposal should contain several important elements. Most elements are common for RFPs, but can vary across industries and between the public and private sectors. These include an overview of the business issue, a description of the product or services required, detailed business requirements, other information, proposal format, due date, selection criteria, time line, questions, how to respond and point of contact. Some RFPs will contain information on a cost breakout, approach suggestions, or other documents that may be required. These RFP elements are outlined in the sections below. An Overview of the Business Issue There should be a succinct description of the business issue or problem that is driving this particular purchase. It should be stated in one or two paragraphs and should give suppliers a summary of the sourcing project and why it was initiated. Description of Products or Services The Request for Proposal should contain a brief but cogent description of the products or services that are needed. In most RFPs, the goods or services that the company needs are complex and may be difficult to describe in detail. Nevertheless, a good description of these goods or services will greatly assist suppliers in developing an excellent and highly targeted proposal. Detailed Business Requirements In addition to the description of products or services, with most RFPs there are detailed business requirements that need to be clearly outlined in the document. These can include support requirements, delivery guidelines, design specifications, quality metrics, etc. The purpose of the business requirements section is to give the suppliers details of what is needed by the company for this purchase so that the suppliers can come up with a proposal that meets these requirements. Often times, the requirements section takes up a good portion of the RFP. If the requirements do not accurately reflect the company's needs, suppliers will not present proposals that address the key issues. It is always important to collaborate with the people who are using the products or services for this sourcing project to ensure that the requirements are accurate. Other Information Needed for Proposal Sometimes there is additional information that suppliers will need in order to formulate a proposal. This information is usually the information about the organization's internal operations that the proposal writers will need. This information can include usage metrics, demand projections, current performance information, internal survey results, etc. The key for this section is not to provide suppliers with too little or too much information. Rather, it is to provide them only with the information that they need. Approach Suggestions For RFPs in which the purchasing personnel know what they require, it may make sense to suggest an approach for the suppliers. Many companies will not have this section because they are looking for creative ways to approach the problem and to not want to force suppliers into a mold.

Performance Metrics If applicable, describe some performance metrics that will be used to measure supplier performance of the contract in the future. This will help suppliers get a quantifiable idea of what will constitute excellent performance. Proposal Format Any RFP needs to specify the format and length of the supplier proposals. A highly structured format for proposals makes it easier to compare the responses from suppliers. It will also encourage clarity and provide focus in the supplier proposals. Some of the best RFPs place their business requirements in a point by point format and encourage suppliers to respond to each point. The RFP should state the maximum length of the proposal. Having a maximum length will help to reduce the time needed to review the proposal and will also ensure that suppliers keep unnecessary information to a minimum. Due Date The due date for the supplier proposals should be clearly stated near the beginning of the RFP and in other relevant places. This makes sure that suppliers know when it is due. Selection Criteria This is an important section and contains essential information for suppliers. This should clearly state the areas and metrics that supplier proposals will be evaluated on. If possible, the RFP should disclose the weighting that a particular section or topic will be given as a part of the overall proposal score. This weighting is often described as a percentage or in terms of points out of a total possible score. This section more than any other, helps suppliers focus their responses on the criteria on which their proposals will be judged. Questions Supplier may request clarification or ask question about even the most well written RFPs. Any RFP should clearly specify the mechanism by which suppliers can ask questions. Most good RFPs will set a time period during which supplier questions can be submitted. This time period should not be too close to the deadline for the proposal submissions. The contact point for the RFP will then get answers and provide responses in written form to the suppliers. It is generally helpful to display the questions and answers so all suppliers can see them and to make them a part of the RFP as an amendment. This can bring additional clarity to the requirements and provide documentation for the project. Timeline The time line should display the RFP creation date, the RFP send date, the time period for questions, the due date for proposals, the selection period, and the projected award date. This should all be communicated as clearly as possible. Point of Contact

The point of contact is the person that handles interactions with the suppliers. This means that all supplier questions and comments about the RFP will be directed to this person. Some companies also include a back up point of contact in case the primary point of contact is out of the office or unavailable. Cost Breakdown This section is optional and is included in only some proposals. To enable cost comparisons, some RFPs will require that suppliers submit a breakdown of the costs to ensure comparison. It is always a good idea to specify a pricing format in this section to make sure pricing can be accurately compared. Other Documents Some RFPs have other documents that need to be filled out as part of the RFP process. These could be diversity certifications, agreements to certain terms and conditions, or other company specific forms. These should also be included with the RFP if they are part of a company's standard procedures. How to Respond This will include special instructions on how to respond to the RFP solicitation. This can include information on the address of where to send the proposal. It should include the submission format (hard copy, electronic, etc). It should also specify any additional submission requirements and can emphasize the deadline. Conclusion If used correctly and in the correct circumstances, an RFP is an excellent tool that purchasing personnel can use to source the best products or services from among several vendor offerings. While the RFP process is more time consuming and takes more effort, it can provide a company with unique insight into the project risk and can help the company determine the best way to move forward with a complex project. Once a company decides to go with an RFP as the sourcing tool, it is important to follow all of the best practices and to write the RFP in a concise and clear manner to ensure that supplier proposals will deliver the best value possible with the most targeted pricing.

Email Etiquette Tips

We send many emails a day. Each email leaves an indelible impression on our attitudes to business and life. Here are a few tips that make life easier Sending Emails 1. Make sure your e-mail includes a courteous greeting and closing. Helps to make your e-mail not seem demanding or terse. 2. Address your contact with the appropriate level of formality and make sure you spelled their name correctly. 3. Spell check - emails with typos are simply not taken as seriously. 4. Read your email out loud to ensure the tone is that which you desire. Try to avoid relying on formatting for emphasis; rather choose the words that reflect your meaning instead. A few additions of the words "please" and "thank you" go a long way! 5. Be sure you are including all relevant details or information necessary to understand your request or point of view. Generalities can many times causing confusion and unnecessary back and forths. 6. Proper sentence structure. First word capitalized with appropriate punctuation? Multiple instances of!!! or??? are perceived as rude or condescending. 7. If your email is emotionally charged, walk away from the computer and wait to reply. Review the Sender's email again so that you are sure you are not reading anything into the email that simply isn't there. 8. If sending attachments, did you ask first when would be the best time to send? Did you check file size to make sure you don't fill the other side's inbox causing all subsequent email to bounce? 9. Refrain from using the Reply to All features to give your opinion to those who may not be interested. In most cases replying to the Sender alone is your best course of action. 10. Make one last check that the address or addresses in the To: field are those you wish to send your reply to. 11. Be sure your name is reflected properly in the From: field. Jane A. Doe (not jane, jane doe or JANE DOE). 12. Type in complete sentences. To type random phrases or cryptic thoughts does not lend to clear communication. 13. Never assume the intent of an email. If you are not sure -- ask so as to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. 14. Just because someone doesn't ask for a response doesn't mean you ignore them. Always acknowledge emails from those you know in a timely manner. 15. Be sure the Subject: field accurately reflects the content of your email. 16. Don't hesitate to say thank you, how are you, or appreciate your help! 17. Keep emails brief and to the point. Save long conversations for the old fashioned telephone. 18. Always end your emails with "Thank you," "Sincerely," "Take it easy," "Best regards" something!

Formatting Emails

19. Do not type in all caps. That's yelling or reflects shouting emphasis. 20. If you bold your type, know you are bolding your statement and it will be taken that way by the other side - X10! 21. Do not use patterned backgrounds. Makes your email harder to read. 22. Stay away from fancy fonts -- only the standard fonts are on all computers. (You are not writing a ransom note) 23. Use emoticons sparingly to ensure your tone and intent are clear. 24. Typing your emails in all small case gives the perception of lack of education or laziness. 25. Refrain from using multiple font colors in one email. It makes your email harder to view and can add to your intent being misinterpreted. 26. Use formatting sparingly. Instead try to rely on choosing the most accurate words possible to reflect your tone and avoid misunderstandings in the process.
Email Attachments

27. When sending large attachments, always "zip" or compress them before sending. 28. Never send large attachments without notice! Always ask what would be the best time to send them first. 29. Learn how to resample or resize graphics to about 600 pixels in width before attaching them to an email. This will greatly reduce download time. 30. Never open an attachment from someone you don't know. 31. Be sure your virus, adware and spyware programs are up to date and include scanning of your emails and attachments both incoming and outgoing. 32. It is better to spread multiple attachments over several emails rather than attaching them all to one email to avoid clogging the pipeline. 33. Make sure the other side has the same software as you before sending attachments or they may not be able to open your attachment. Use PDF when possible.
To, From, CC, BCc, RR, Subject:

34. Only use Cc: when it is important for those you Cc: to know about the contents of the email. Overuse can cause your emails to be ignored. 35. Don't use Return Receipt (RR) on every single email. Doing so is viewed as intrusive, annoying and can be declined by the other side anyway. 36. Include addresses in the To: field for those who you would like a response from. 37. Include addresses in the Cc: field for those who you are just FYI'ing. 38. Make sure your name is displayed properly in the From: field. 39. Remove addresses from the To:, CC; and BCc: field that don't need to see your reply. 40. Always include a brief Subject. No subject can get your email flagged as spam. 41. Think about your motives when adding addresses to To:, CC:, BCc. Use your discretion.

42. Never expose your friend's or contact's email address to strangers by listing them all in the To: field. Use BCc:! 43. Make sure when using BCc: that your intentions are proper. To send BCc: copies to others as a way of talking behind someone's back is inconsiderate.
Email Forwarding

44. Don't forward emails that say to do so--no matter how noble the cause may be. Most are hoaxes or hooey and may not be appreciated by those you send to. 45. If someone asks you to refrain from forwarding emails they have that right and you shouldn't get mad or take it personally. 46. When forwarding email, if you cannot take the time to type a personal comment to the person you are forwarding to--then don't bother. 47. Don't forward anything without editing out all the forwarding >>>>, other email addresses, headers and commentary from all the other forwarders. 48. If you must forward to more than one person, put your email address in the TO: field and all the others you are sending to in the BCc: field to protect their email address from being published to those they do not know. This is a serious privacy issue! 49. Be careful when forwarding email on political or controversial issues. The recipient may not appreciate your POV.
Email and Perception, Privacy, Copyright

50. Choose your email address wisely. It will determine, in part, how you are perceived. 51. Try not to make assumptions when it comes to email. Always ask for clarification before you react. 52. Posting or forwarding of private email is copyright infringement -- not to mention downright rude. You need permission from the author first! 53. Even though it isn't right; emails are forwarded to others. Keep this in mind when typing about emotional or controversial topics. 54. When there is a misunderstanding by email, don't hesitate to pick up the old fashioned telephone to work things out! 55. Know that how you type, and the efforts you make or don't make will indicate what is important to you and if you are an educated courteous person. 56. If you forward an email that turns out to be a hoax, have the maturity to send an apology follow up email to those you sent the misinformation to. 57. When filling out a contact form on a Web site, do so carefully and with clarity so your request is taken seriously. 58. If a friend puts your e-mail address in the To: field with others you do not know, ask them to no longer expose your address to strangers without your permission.

Strictly Business

59. Think of your business email as though it was on your business letterhead and you'll never go wrong! 60. If you cannot respond to an email promptly, at the very least email back confirming your receipt and when the sender can expect your response. 61. Emailing site owners about your product or service through the site form is still spam. Ask them if they want more info first! 62. When replying to emails always respond promptly and edit out unnecessary information from the post you are responding to. 63. Formality is in place as a courtesy and reflects respect. Assume the highest level of formality with new email contacts until the relationship dictates otherwise. Refrain from getting too informal too soon in your email communications. 64. Never send anyone an email they need to unsubscribe from when they didn't subscribe in the first place! 65. Be very careful how you use Reply to All and Cc: in a business environment. Doing so for CYA or to subtlety tattle can backfire and have your viewed as petty or insecure. 66. When replying to an email with multiple recipients noted in the To: or Cc: fields, remove the addresses of those who your reply does not apply to. 67. Never send business attachments outside of business hours and confirm that the format in which you can send can be opened by the other side.
Chat, IM, Texting

68. Went Texting or participating in IM and Chat, try not to be overly cryptic or your meaning can be misread. 69. Use Instant Messaging (IM) for casual topics or informational briefs. IM is not the place for serious topics or confrontational issues. 70. Start by always asking if the person you are IMing is available and if it is a good time to chat. Refrain from IMing during meetings or when your attention is required. 71. Practice communicating briefly and succinctly. 72. Always consider if calling the other party on the phone is better when Texting about sensitive topics. 73. IMing is not an excuse to forget your grade school education. 74. If you are not a smooth multi-tasker, do not continue multiple IM sessions and leave folks hanging while you communicate with others. 75. Learn how to use the features of your IM program. Specifically your "busy" and "away" message features. 76. Never IM under an alias to take a peek at friends' or associates' activities. 77. Take into consideration who you are communicating with to determine the acronyms and emoticons that should be used - if at all.

Simple Email Considerations...

78. Before getting upset because you perceive someone didn't respond, check to see if their reply was inadvertently deleted or sent to your Trash or Junk folder. 79. With emotionally charged emails, wait until the next morning to see if you feel the same before clicking Send. 80. Feel free to modify the Subject: field to more accurately reflect a conversation's direction. 81. When it comes to your email communications, know who you can trust; trust only those you know. 82. Take the time to review each email before clicking Send to ensure your message is clear and you are relaying the tone that you desire. 83. Never use an old email to hit reply and start typing about an entirely new topic. 84. Regardless of how noble a forwarded email may be, don't just forward without investigating its authenticity @ Snopes.com. 85. Always add the email addresses of Web sites and new contacts immediately to your approved senders or address book so they get through Spam filters. 86. Before completing a Web site's Contact form; make an effort to review the site to be sure the information you seek is not already available. 87. Take a quick look at the e-mails in your Trash before you delete them just in case a good email landed there by mistake. 88. If any email states to forward to all your friends, or just 5 people -- do everyone a favor and just hit delete! 89. Don't mass e-mail people who didn't ask to be on your personal "mailing list". 90. Double check that your adware, spyware and virus programs are set to automatically update at least once each week so the software knows what to protect you from.
Some Social Media Dos and Donts

91. Keep in mind when Tweeting, on Facebook or message boards that you are in a global arena. 92. When discussions get out of control; don't stoop to name-calling or profanities. You are better than that! 93. In forums, keep your signature file to no more than 2-3 lines. 94. Keep commercialism to no more than a link at the end of your comment or contribution. 95. Stay on topic and discuss issues only relative to the thread/topic in question. 96. If new to a group or forum, "lurk" for awhile to get a feel for the community and personalities of the regulars before you post. 97. Never give out personal information or specifics to your location on online -- nor should you give out the personal information of others! 98. Keep in mind there will always be differences of opinion. Try to remain objective and not personalize issues.

99. Don't fall for trolls. Trolls are folks who will post rude comments just to get a rise out of everyone. 100. Be sure to down edit, or remove any part of the post you are replying to that is no longer necessary to the ongoing conversation.
And Rule number 101 Do not send an email when you are angry- never-ever