Registration Red Alert: Bid & Proposal Con Quickly Heading Toward Fastest Ever Sell-Out

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If you plan to join us in sunny San Diego for APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con this May, act fast.

The annual conference is already 43 percent booked – and registration has only been open for three weeks.  We have never seen registration fill this quickly and we want our members to know.  Whether you are attendees, speakers, exhibitors or sponsors, know that we are on pace for an imminent sell-out and maybe the quickest in Bid & Proposal Con history.

We appreciate the support of our chapter leaders and sponsors who have encouraged early registrations. We are producing this outstanding event in conjunction with the APMP California Chapter and based on our current count, there’s no doubt that we’ll sell-out the 2018 event.  The early registration numbers are so compelling (53 percent ahead of where we were last year) that we think this could be a ridiculously fast sell-out. Unfortunately, once we reach capacity, we cannot add any more attendees.

So, if you’re considering attending the conference, register today. If you need any convincing, here are some reasons to join us:

  • APMP’s Bid and Proposal Con is the best place to build your professional network. It’s the only conference dedicated to the profession and it’s the largest gathering of bid, tender, capture, business development and graphics professionals in the world.
  • Our members drive the content. New this year, the material being presented was determined by the membership. You wrote the script.
  • Certification workshops and exams are offered in conjunction with the conference, so you can achieve or prepare for professional certification during your trip.
  • We have excellent, first rate, sponsors and exhibitors that can connect you to products and services that are extremely relevant to the profession and which can transform your proposal function. Our show floor will be sold-out.
  • It’s fun. Our sessions are educational and inspiring, plus we make plenty of time for socializing. We know networking is important, too.

We’re thrilled with the number of registrations and the pace is a little scary too.  Please take my advice and register as soon as possible register today to guarantee your place at the enormously popular APMP Bid & Proposal Con

We couldn’t do APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con without the generous financial support, energy and commitment of our sponsors.  Make sure that you say hello to these great people at the conference once you have booked. The 2018 Bid & Proposal Con Sponsors are:

Lohfeld Consulting Group, Shipley Associates, Upland Qvidian, EMD Strategies, Hinz Consulting, RFPIO, 24 Hour Company, AOC Key Solutions (KSI), Qorus Software, Business Development Institute International, CV Partner, Expedience Software, Intravation Inc., Lisa Rehurek, PleaseTech (Ideagen), Privia LLC, Proposal Development Consultants, R3 Business Solutions, SalesEdge, Strategic Proposals, VisibleThread, Vertosoft/Workiva, and Xait.

They have already booked, and we hope you do too — and soon.  At this record-setting registration pace, we will sell all conference seats and most likely in record time.  Please don’t delay.

People of APMP 9 and 10: Lucky Seven

We try to not insert APMP staff into the People of APMP profiles – but for this story, we’ll make an exception.

This week is my lucky seven-year anniversary at APMP and these two ladies are largely responsible for that.   They are two of four people who interviewed me for the job and later hired me.

Attachment-1Betsy Blakney of CACI (left) and Kirste Webb of Information International Associates (right) were on the APMP search committee looking for a replacement Executive Director when David Winton retired after 22 years with APMP.  They were joined by David Bol of Shipley and Jessica Morgenstern of Leidos (neither pictured).   I recently bumped into Betsy and Kirste at a National Capital area event and asked to take a picture with them.

Betsy Blakney, has been the Volunteer Chair of APMP once before, and besides being one of the deepest and resource-rich proposal professionals that I know, also has another side.  She is an enthusiast of the Little Free Library Exchanges.  Betsy and her husband, Bob, built one outside their Northern Virginia home a few years ago and were amazed, right from the start, how many books come and go out of that library every week.  Betsy will be very happy to know that we included a link on how to start your own Little Free Library Exchange.

Most people might not know this, but from an APMP perspective, Betsy has moved our certification program ahead in significant ways. Most notably, Betsy is co-author with Charlie Divine, on APMP’s Glossary of Terms – the one publication that every bid, proposal, capture and BD professional should own.   It features APMP universally accepted terms with alternate terms for our industry and is available in the APMP store for only $25 USD.  It is the true underpinning for APMP’s Foundation Study Guide and certification exam questions.

Kirste Webb has twice been the volunteer Chair of APMP and has guided the association through growth big and small.  What you may not know about Kirste is that she is also a cigar enthusiast.  Don’t believe me?  Then take yourself right to the Smokin’ Ladies Cigar Club to see for yourself.  Kirste travels a lot in her job and has a cigar shop to visit in almost every port.

Kirste was also instrumental in APMP’s certification program by pushing for an APMP Body of Knowledge (BoK).  This was a high priority of hers during the new APMP Executive Director search.  Five years later, we rolled out the most complete version ever of an APMP BoK and helped Kirste fulfill a dream of having a single association-endorsed resource of best practice.  That’s the APMP BoK and Kirste was the leader of this effort.

Even though their legacies at APMP are indelibly stamped into our history, I’ll always thank them for bringing me into this great association.  Thanks to all of them, I can look back at seven incredible years of growth, change and one of the most rewarding professional experiences that I have ever known.  My introduction to APMP was through Kirste, David and Jessica.   My first year of APMP service was through Betsy.

Because of all that and them I have one the greatest jobs in the association industry, have professional friends all over the world and have the space and the confidence from our Board leaders to grow forward!  We wanted to be the industry’s professional development leader and we are.

Thank you for the help, guidance and leadership to get me to lucky seven!

 

10K Members by 2020

Goals are more attainable once shared. So we’re going to put this one out there: APMP’s goal is to grow to 10,000 members by 2020.

Today, we have about 7,800 members. The way associations are typically categorized, that puts us in the “small association” range. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished as a small organization, but recognize, pragmatically, that larger organizations have more doors opened to them. Having 10,000 people (or more) behind our mission will elevate our status among policymakers, employers, and other platforms where we advocate for members.

In other words, our voice becomes stronger as our association gets larger.

When APMP started 29-some years ago, BD and capture roles weren’t widely recognized by employers as standalone or serious roles. By banding together, we’ve shown that they are. We have demonstrated our value and set high standards for professionalism: best practices, ethical standards, and our Body of Knowledge.

It takes people to do that. Dedicated, active members. And, with greater mindshare, we can produce better materials, more networking, and numerous other benefits for our members. There are simply more opportunities – for members and for the association’s future – if we mature into a larger organization.

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Here’s how we plan to get to 10K:

Corporate Memberships
It’s more efficient and prudent for APMP staff to focus on membership opportunities that result in dozens of members in one fell swoop vs. chasing hundreds of individual prospective members. That’s why corporate memberships are so important. Our corporate membership packages allow us to tailor APMP’s benefits to the needs of a particular team or company – and create a win-win situation for everyone.

We currently have 99 corporate members, and we will focus on increasing enterprise-wide memberships in the coming years. Christina Lewellen and Tony Round are spearheading corporate membership efforts in the U.S. and in Europe, respectively. If you have ideas about how to increase corporate memberships or you’d like to learn more, reach out to them.

There are 29 APMP chapters throughout the world, and we will encourage every chapter Board to recruit 3 new corporate members over the next year.  Their commitment will significantly contribute to the 10K.

Certification

For years, certification has been a strong driver of membership. Our three tiers of certification help us connect with professionals as they enter the field and progress throughout their career. Now, we’re looking to certify individual skillsets that are gained along the way.

These new certification opportunities will help members achieve ongoing professional development, which will help advance their careers and the profession.

In addition, some of the specialty certifications we plan to develop over the next 12 to 15 months may attract professionals who work in tertiary fields to ours. Persuasive writing and executive decision-making, as two examples, would benefit folks who aren’t typically exposed to APMP.

Again, these opportunities will bring new members into APMP and contribute to our goal of reaching 10K members.

Retention

APMP currently retains about 70 percent of its membership every year. This is on-point with the national average for professional associations of our size, but we think we can do better. Some of the steps to improve retention will be simple – like consistently reminding members of their renewal dates. Other efforts, like helping members maintain their CEU credits to keep certification, will be more difficult. Over the next several years, we will build the infrastructure needed to rigorously track CEU completion, which will help our retention and membership numbers significantly and contribute to the 10K.

Chapter Support

Most importantly, we’re going to get there together. Our chapters have excellent ideas for increasing membership in their regions. As we’ve grown in Europe, it’s been exciting to hear fresh ideas from these rising chapters. Julia Duke, our chapter coordinator, can connect chapters – both seasoned and new – to resources and ideas to help chapters recruit new members.

If you read my last post, you know that APMP has been building momentum toward this goal over the last year. With your support, I believe we’ll hit 2020 right on target.

Happy New Year…And A Look Back on 2017

SparklerAs we kick-off the New Year, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate everything that we achieved together in 2017. To sum it up, it was a year of astonishing growth. Which is perfect, actually, because it’s why we exist: to promote professional development, to advance the profession, and to help our members win more business. To grow.

In that light, last year was incredible for APMP. Among our many accomplishments, here are some of the “greatest hits” from 2017:

APMP Certification

Certifications continue to grow, with the highest gains coming from our Foundation Level certification. The Foundation Level, which serves folks who are newer to the career field, jumped by 17% over the prior year. Since we started offering it in 2004, more than 8,435 people worldwide have earned this credential. It’s recognized as the global standard for bid and proposal professionals, and has become a “must-have” certification within the industry. In 2017, APMP so far issued a total of 1,201 certifications between Foundation, Practitioner and Professional.

International Expansion

We changed the geographic footprint of APMP this year, which was a major milestone in our efforts to serve a global audience. Guided by APMP’s International Board of Directors and the three-year plan that they set forth, we opened a new, independent company in Europe called the APMP United Kingdom Development CIC. This extension of APMP will help us better serve our UK members. Specifically, it will ensure that money raised in the U.K. – through memberships and other purchases – stays locally to serve our members in the U.K.

We also added a full-time staff member in London, Tony Round, to help increase our corporate memberships and sponsorships throughout Europe. In 2018, we will add a similar position to support our growth in India.

And, we launched the European Reporter, a weekly newsletter to help members stay apprised of industry news for our European members

APMP Bid & Proposal Con

In June 2017, we held our biggest APMP Bid & Proposal Con yet, maintaining our position as the world’s largest event dedicated to proposal, bid, capture and business development professionals. Nearly 950 colleagues from around the globe met us in New Orleans, LA USA to network and sharpen their skillsets, and 90 people took a certification exam during the three-day event. (The Mardi Gras King Cake popcorn was interesting, too.)

If you haven’t done so, save the date for our 2018 event: May 15-18 in San Diego.) We’re piloting a new, more member-focused approach to delivering content that should yield new and interesting educational opportunities.

Corporate Memberships

In 2011, we had 19 corporate members. Today, we have 99. That’s fantastic news for members who want to share the resources and benefits of APMP with a larger team. Because every corporate membership is unique, our Board, members and business development staff have worked very hard to create corporate packages that promote professional advancement and are good investments for their employers. When more people have access to education, tools and best practices, everybody wins.

In keeping with our commitment to openness, additional details about these achievements – figures, financials, and more – will be included in our Annual Report. It will be emailed to members in February and posted on our website.

I must close by saying “Thank you.” These wins are largely attributable to our members, particularly those who serve on the Board. They dedicated their time and talents to create an inspired long-range plan for APMP. It’s been a pleasure to carry out your vision, and we look forward to what’s ahead.

Happy New Year.

New Approach to Finding Speakers for APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con: Our members are setting the agenda for 2018

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It’s time to shake things up a little.

For nearly 30 years, we’ve planned and scheduled speakers for our annual APMP Bid & Proposal Con the same way. Earlier this year, we started talking to other associations about how they make their conferences great—and decided to turn our process on its head.

Rather than prepare a schedule full of speakers and topics that we deemed interesting, we asked members in our APMP committees what they wanted to learn. In response, we created a list of session topics for 2018. Descriptions of the most-requested topics are posted online, and now we need members to step up and self-nominate to lead these sessions.  The deadline is Friday December 15, 2017.

We’re very excited about this new, more member-focused approach. We’ve already noticed a request for more panel sessions and interactive opportunities than we’ve offered in the past. The members we polled are also looking for input from a wider range of professional levels, so there will be valuable information—and presentation opportunities—for everyone, from new proposal coordinators to seasoned VPs.

To self-nominate, check out the list of available sessions. Select up to three sessions that you’d like to lead or participate in as a panelist, and include a brief write-up (950 characters or less) about your qualifications and experience.  Please note that when you select a session, you can only do one at a time.  For example, If you want to submit two sessions, you need to send the form in for the two different sessions.

If you have an idea for a lecture, panel or workshop that isn’t listed on the site, don’t worry. We’re accepting wildcard suggestions, too. The selection committee will consider member input when choosing wildcard panels. We’re working hard to provide content that members have asked for in 2018.

There are only two simple rules: Self-nominate by Friday, Dec. 15. And, members may self-nominate for a maximum of three sessions.

Every member has something to share. We look forward to learning from all of you in 2018 and beyond. Our members make Bid & Proposal Con a great event, and APMP a great association.

Seven Steps to Using Your APMP 2017–2018 Compensation Report as Your Personal Professional Development Tool

If you are a U.S based  member of The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP®), you should know that the 2017/2018 APMP U.S. Compensation Report is included in the cost of your membership. What you may not be aware of is how you can use this report as a professional development tool.

A special note to all of our APMP U.K. Members — you’ll be getting your own free APMP Salary Survey and Compensation Report in spring 2018.

The 2017/2018 APMP U.S. Compensation Report is a vendor-free and industry-endorsed guide for professionals and management alike. It provides an unbiased benchmark on members’ salaries and allows you to interpret the data to chart your own professional development arc within your company. Seeing what others make in comparable positions and in your geographic area helps you understand where you are among your peers—and can possibly assist you in negotiating a higher salary at your current position.

STEP ONE: Get started with the APMP 2017 Compensation Report

Once you’ve located the report online, (free to members) research the salary for those in your region with the same/similar title as yours. (If you have misplaced yours, just request another from membership@apmp.org and we’ll get it right out to you, provided you are an APMP member in good standing.)

  • If your salary is comparable to or higher than those posted in the report, close it and know that you are fortunate enough to be working for a company that compensates its professionals at the higher end of the spectrum.
  • If your salary is lower than average, roll up your sleeves and start planning how to introduce this fact to management in a positive way.

First, research your company to better understand what salary ranges have been and how your current salary fits into them. For example, if your company already has their own salary survey/compensation report, compare this data with what you find in the APMP report. If not, consider asking human resources for salary comps. By consulting both sources, you’ll have a better idea of where you stand in your company and your field.

Remember that the 2017/2018 APMP U.S. Compensation Report is a great benchmark, but it should be used positively and not as a brick bat. The compensation report provides a wealth of data, but it can’t give us insight into all the nuances that go into determining salaries at a particular firm.

 

STEP TWO: Determine your worth within the company

Before starting a discussion about your salary, it’s important to know your worth to the company. Here are a few ways to start.

  • Use the 2017/2018 APMP U.S. Compensation Report to determine the appropriate salary level for someone with your experience, in your region.
  • Combine that with any data you’ve learned from your own company regarding salary levels.
  • Prepare a list of special projects you’ve worked on, wins you’ve contributed to, examples of how well you’ve integrated into the company culture, and the number of years’ service to your company.

Be sure to back up your discussion with stats, facts, and charts from the APMP Report and elsewhere. Hard data speaks louder than emotion in these types of discussions.

 

STEP THREE: Think of your position, not just the salary

When asking for a raise, people tend to focus on money. That’s important, but it’s only part of the picture. Highlight your past accomplishments and describe your intentions for the future. Connect yourself to the company, your history with it, and how you want to be an important part of its future. This allows your supervisor to see that you want to build a future with the company that transcends money.

 

STEP FOUR: Be positive in your negotiations

While you should have a number in mind before beginning salary negotiations, don’t let a lower offer sidetrack you. Be positive, and use your APMP data to show that you’re asking to be paid what your peers are making—not a random, pie-in-the-sky number. Avoid ultimatums like “If I don’t get the raise I think I deserve, I’m out of here.” Instead,

  • Explain why you think you deserve more money.
  • Show how peers in your geographic area with similar titles are making the same salary that you are asking for. Show the industry data and source it to APMP, your industry’s association.
  • Stress that you hope to be brought up to their level.
  • If this can’t happen immediately, offer to work with your manager on a stepped plan to get you to that level.
  • Lastly, let them know how much you value your job and the opportunity.

 

STEP FIVE: Be prepared for pushback

If your supervisor comes back with a competing compensation report that shows a lower pay scale, be prepared with an answer.

  • Underscore that the 2017/2018 APMP U.S. Compensation Report is independently produced and created by the governing body for your industry.

Talk about how this is the fourth APMP U.S. Compensation Report and how it is the default salary setting tool for the industry.  Talk about how nearly 1,000 industry professionals contribute to the data and it is regularly used by industry HR Departments and senior level supervising managers as an industry benchmark. Your employer may not be prepared to give you the raise you feel you deserve right now, but you can move the conversation into the direction that you want long-term—and start establishing the APMP Report as a trusted, industry-standard resource.

 

STEP SIX: Stick to your guns

One you have your figure and your list of achievements, you have a solid base for negotiations. If you present the salary information to your supervisor and they still offer you a lower raise than what you’re hoping for, reiterate your achievements. While many companies set aside a certain pool of money for raises, there’s often room to compensate special employees who have gone above and beyond.

 

STEP SEVEN: Thank your supervisor

No matter the outcome, thank your supervisor for the time and consideration they have given to the process. Hopefully, this is just one of many salary reviews. You want to set a tone that’s professional and personal, and develop a process that you and your employer will value and can use time after time.

 

Will the 2017/2018 APMP U.S. Compensation Report guarantee you a salary increase? No, of not, but it will surely help. APMP presents you the information laid out in a logical way and when you use that information in a similarly logical way, good things can happen. Many APMP members have shared that they were able to increase their salary simply by asking for a raise—and using the APMP Compensation Report to back up their request. We sincerely hope that happens for you as well.

Want to discuss this further? APMP is standing by and happy to counsel you on the best ways to use the 2017/2018 APMP U.S. Compensation Report in your next review. Just call APMP Membership at +1 (866) 466-APMP (2767), then dial 0 or e-mail them at membership@apmp.org. Tell our APMP Membership team that you would like guidance on using the 2017 APMP U.S. Compensation Report for your next review, and someone will get right back to you.

Helping to Prevent the Next Multi-Million Dollar Overrun

As the rough outlines of a $1 trillion infrastructure revitalization package begin to emerge, an essential element that will ensure its success has less to do with paving and construction than it does with effectively matching a company’s capabilities with the needs of a government agency bidding out a new project.

The downside of a poor match can be costly, leading to budget overruns and schedule delays. Sometimes they are the fault of the contractor, other times they are the fault of the agency. But one certainty is that with careful planning at the front end on both the part of the government agency and the companies bidding on projects, the largest public works program in generations will be a major success and taxpayers will be the beneficiaries.

As part of any infrastructure package or program to rebuild bridges and roads destroyed by recent hurricanes and subsequent flooding, Congress should direct government agencies to improve the quality and the consistency of their request for proposals, or RFPs.

This issue is far from an arcane contracting matter. It could literally save millions of dollars, depending on the program. Poorly written RFPs can cause delays because they generate an excessive number of questions by the bidding companies. They may even discourage the most qualified companies from participating. They may spark protests from contractors who lose the procurement, resulting in costly delays. They can lead to cost overruns and reputational risks for the government agency and contractors.

The most current survey of government and industry proposal professionals found plenty of room for improvement in the proposal process. Some 80 percent of proposal experts who took part in the study said that draft RFPs issued by government agencies are too schematic and could be more specific in laying out the needs of the agency.

What’s more, government proposal experts who issue RFPs and those proposal experts in industry who respond to them overwhelmingly agreed that improving the quality of RFPs and their consistency would reduce costs and result in a better value for taxpayers.

For companies bidding on government RFPs, improving the process rests squarely on whether the government can change its approach and communicate better from the outset of a procurement, according to the 2014 survey by the Association of Proposal Management Professionals.

But federal officials and industry experts diverge on how much communication is enough. Industry experts want more communication from the agency. They are reluctant to commit extensive resources to bidding on a contract unless they have as much clarity as possible about the requirements the government seeks to fulfill. At the same time, it’s a delicate balance for the government agency issuing the RFP, which must follow a raft of regulations and be careful not to be perceived as showing favoritism for one bidder over another.

This tension is why more than 90 percent of industry respondents surveyed wanted communications open from the issuance of the first draft RFP to the final draft of the RFP, a process that could top months or years depending on the breadth of the program. But only 60 percent of government respondents saw this as a necessary change.

The survey and report, titled “Closing the Procurement Gap,” noted “a gulf of understanding between industry and government that can be reconciled through dialogue. … The basis for understanding and improvement exists.”

The problem is not intractable. Both agencies and contractors want the highest value for the taxpayers and both agree that better communications can help. With so much treasure at stake in the infrastructure package and post-hurricane rebuilding, procurement professionals have a vital, if unsung, role to play in ensuring that taxpayers are well served and that the nation receives the best possible roads, bridges and highways.

This OpEd piece appeared on InsideSources.com on October 31, 2017.  It was written by Rick Harris, executive director of APMP.  Any APMP member is encouraged to reprint or repost this piece.  It is intended to promote bid, proposal, captures and presentation professionals who make up our industry.  The orginial text can be found at http://www.insidesources.com/helping-prevent-next-multi-million-dollar-overrun/