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Writing Successful Usability Proposals

How to Assess Opportunities, Draft Responses, and Benefit from Proven

Bringing new project funding and business opportunities to your organization is a vital part of usability professionals’ growth and success. This practical, information-packed tutorial teaches the time-honored secrets and proven techniques for assessing proposal requests, writing successful commercial and government funding proposals, and enhancing your business development skills.

Half Day Tutorial by Chris Hass (Mad*Pow)
Advanced Practitioners (AP)
6:00pm to 9:30pm on Monday, June 04, 2012

About the Half Day Tutorial

Bringing new project work, grant money, project funding, and business opportunities to your organization or consultancy is a vital part of usability professionals’ growth and success. It can help you to make a living, to engage with more interesting projects, to grow professionally, and to distinguish yourself. For usability consultants and salaried professionals alike, writing effective proposals, statements of work, budgets, and project timelines is a practical necessity. Yet when it comes to fielding requests for proposals, experience often wins out over passion, networking can trump innovation, and knowing the proposal writing landscape can mean the difference between a funded project and a missed opportunity.

Few are born with an inherent ability to successfully respond to Request for Proposals (RFPs), to write compelling, focused Statements of Work (SOWs), or to interact with prospective clients to define collaborative opportunities. As with any professional endeavor, writing successful usability proposals is more skill than art.

This engaging half-day tutorial is tailor-made to teach you the time-honored skills and secrets for interpreting opportunities, writing successful proposals, and enhancing your business development skills.

This evidence-based tutorial is for anyone interested in the business development aspects of usability work and consulting that relate to drafting a proposal response or statement of work that would bring their organization or consultancy money, projects, or partnership. Over the past seventeen years I’ve written or contributed to hundreds of successful “request for proposal” responses. These have garnered revenue amounts from a few thousand to several million dollars. I’ve learned how to read the RFP “tea leaves,” interview prospective clients, maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome, and streamline my response time. Moreover, because I’ve met with my share of rejected proposals, and I’m fortunate enough to have learned from people better at proposal writing than I am, I have reached out to my career mentors and proposal heroes to gather their tips and best advice. I’m also hoping the attendees will share their experiences, questions, and proposal writing tips as well. To cap things off I’ll provide a take-home packet of examples, best practices, and more.

Below is the tutorial schedule I’m envisioning, though of course it will be even better once the attendees have infused it with their input, insights, and questions.

Part I: Anatomy of an RFP
- the many types of requests for proposal associated with usability work, including collegial, government and commercial requests for proposals
- Common terms and acronyms associated with proposalling and grant writing
- Tips and techniques for predicting the likelihood your response will result in success (and avoiding time-sinks and traps!)
- Maximizing your time with the prospective client

Part II: Walking Through the Proposal Generation Process
- How to outline and tailor a proposal/statement of work
- How to approach budgeting for government and commercial projects in the US and abroad
- How to define a project timeline
- How to define a reality-based SOW then tailor it to the client’s expectations
- Presenting your individual or team’s capabilities in the best light
- Making educated guesses about how much clients are willing to invest
- Making a compelling response to a variety of RFP types, including commercial, government, and collegial requests