The Development Source

Managing a Virtual Grant Proposal is a Challenge!

Until recently, most grant proposals were developed in a defined physical space.  The proposal team worked near each other, had frequent face-to-face contact, and used conference rooms in its work.

Today, however this traditional model of proposal development is rapidly changing.  An increasing number of grant proposals are virtual efforts – they involve a geographically dispersed proposal team that works and communicates primarily electronically rather than on a face-to-face basis.  Many of these proposal teams have never met the members of their own team in person.

As a proposal manager, virtual proposal efforts can be very challenging.  As Neil Evans of MorganFranklin, Inc. points out, virtual proposal managers should ask themselves three basic questions:

1.  How can I provide support to a geographically dispersed team?

2.  How can I distribute information, documents, and tools?

3.  How can I provide training and support to people whom I have not met?

I will add a fourth:

4.  How do I produce and submit the proposal?

Fortunately, today there are helpful answers to these questions.  Evans offers many practical suggestions to virtual proposal managers.  I will add a few based on my own experiences in this field.

How can I provide support to a geographically dispersed team?

Besides plenty of e-mails, telephone calls, and conference calls, a proposal manager should establish an electronic site where proposal team members can upload, download, and review proposal documents.  Many organizations have SharePoint already in place, which is easy to use, access, and administer.  It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It also provides the security you need to work remotely.

Although SharePoint is very useful, proposal managers should not neglect the tried and true ways of keeping in touch with team members – especially e-mail and telephone calls.  Frequent conference calls will help keep team members informed, engaged, and motivated more effectively than e-mailing.

How can I distribute information, documents, and tools?

As the proposal manager, you can use SharePoint to post documents such as resumes, past performance write-ups, drafts, and templates to team members.  SharePoint’s 2010 version enables your proposal team to do concurrent editing of the same document, a very nice feature. 

How can I provide training and support to people whom I have not met?

Using SharePoint, you can post training videos, instructional materials, your organization’s style manual, and other documents.  I have found telephone calls with individual team members to be an effective way to advise and support colleagues.

How do I produce and submit the proposal?

Nowadays, most grant proposals are submitted electronically to foundations, corporations, and government agencies.  At the very beginning of the proposal effort, you should arrange to produce and upload your final proposal.  This may be relatively easy, or it may be a complicated, time-consuming effort.  If you wait until the last minute to make these arrangements, you risk torpedoing the entire proposal because there are often problems uploading proposals, especially to government agencies using their own Web sites.

Whatever the proposal effort, the proposal manager must ensure that the proposal team works efficiently and effectively together.  Answer these four questions before the proposal effort begins, and you will avoid a great deal of unproductive, low-level administrative and repetitive work in the expanding world of virtual grant proposals.

 

 

Article source: http://www.theproposalguru.com/managing-a-virtual-grant-proposal-is-a-challenge/