Proposal Professionals Tell Us How Happy They Are On The Job

June 9, 2015 – APMP recently released its 2015 APMP U.S. Compensation Report at last week’s APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2015 in Seattle, WA.  One of the questions in the survey asked APMP members how happy they were in their jobs as proposal professionals.How Happy 2

The good news is that proposal professionals are generally a happy lot.  Despite tight deadlines, crushing hours logged in a work week and the sometimes need to win-or-go-home, proposal pros overwhelmingly reported that they love their jobs and their industry.

Of the 991 APMP member respondents who took the survey, the reports of proposal bliss are glowing.  Here are the results on the first-ever APMP Happy-meter:

  • 38.6 percent say they are “Very Happy”
  • 40.5 percent say they are “Happy”
  • 10.2 percent are neutral
  • 10.8 percent are either “Not Very or Not At All Happy”

When you start combining stats, the Happy picture gets even, well, happier!  A whopping 79.1 percent of APMP members are with “Very Happy” or “Happy.”  We suspect that these are people who have been in the industry a while and have settled in to the thrill of victory and know how to stomach the other one (that shall not be named).

We also suspect that the 10.8 percent of “Not Very or Not At All Happy” people could be existing the industry in the next year or so, if not sooner.  That’s okay because being a proposal professional is not for everyone.

How does the “79 percent happy statistic” stack up against other industries?  We don’t know and we don’t care.  We’re just glad the vast majority of our folks are with us and are happy!

Help APMP help you to become happier.  Tell us what makes you happy about being a proposal professional in the comment box below.  We’ll share the answers in a follow-up article on APMP’s Exec Direct blog.

Christina Lewellen Joins APMP® As Its New VP of Business Development and Operations

June 8, 2015 – APMP’s Board of Directors announce today that Christina Lewellen, MBA, will join APMP to serve as the association’s newly created role of Vice President of Business Development and Operations, effective June 16, 2015.  Lewellen, a 10-year senior association executive, joins APMP after having served in a similar position most recently with the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) in Vienna, Va.

In addition to developing new programs to increase APMP’s
corporateChristina Lewllen memberships, she will utilize her extensive media background to help APMP with story placement in national, international and business trade press. She joins APMP with a diverse career in both the association and corporate sectors.

“As we continue to attract new members globally and advocate for everyone in the proposal industry, Christina is the right person at the right time to help APMP go to a new level.  Her business acumen, promotional expertise and revenue generation experience are vital to APMP’s growth plans,” said Rick Harris, APMP’s Executive Director.

In her tenure at NCRA, Lewellen reversed a two-decade long decline in membership, spearheaded the creation of an industry outlook report for the profession, and executed a nationwide public relations and marketing campaign designed to attract new professionals to the field. This campaign was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal as well as on CNBC and Fox & Friends.

Lewellen started her career in journalism, working as both a newspaper reporter and television producer. She moved to the association realm as the editor of a national trade publication, Window & Door magazine, and during her time there focused on business development opportunities for its owner, the National Glass Association. After obtaining her Master’s in Business Administration from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., she served as the director of communications for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and later as the director of public relations and communications for The Long & Foster Cos., the largest real estate company in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“The energy and momentum at APMP was apparent to me, even as an outsider, and I knew I wouldn’t regret throwing my hat into the ring to be a part of this dynamic, successful team,” Lewellen notes. “I’m thrilled about this opportunity and I’m ready to walk alongside APMP’s volunteer leadership, staff, and membership to meet the current and future needs of everyone in the proposal development lifecycle.”

Lewellen resides in Stephens City, Va., with her husband and their two daughters. In her personal time, she serves on the executive committee of the International Board of Directors for Harmony, Inc., and is a national director on Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business Alumni Advisory Board.

Feel free to welcome Christina to the APMP family by dropping her an e-mail at christina.lewellen@apmp.org.

APMP Members Win! U.S. Census Bureau Yields to Allow Consultant Participation

June 3, 2015 – Last month APMP’s Procurement Improvement Committee (PIC) called on all APMP members to urge the U.S. Census Bureau to remove language prohibiting consultants from participating on its RFP YA 1323-15-MS-0003 for Multi-Tiered Acquisition Framework for Systems Engineering and Integration.  The draft of this RFP restricted/prohibited technical consultants from participating on the RFP unless they are part of the offeror’s team.shutterstock_175538990

APMP strongly believed that this was an arbitrary requirement that was discriminatory toward small business and a poor attempt to perfect the procurement process.  APMP and many of its members provided draft comments to the U.S Census Bureau about the offending language and how it arbitrarily could damage our industry.

The great news is that we won!  Yesterday the U.S. Census Bureau added a sentence in the final RFP that reads, “This does not preclude the use of contracted technical writing, marketing, and communications support in the preparation of the proposal.”

Proposal consultants throughout the United States can celebrate.  This is a huge victory for APMP and its PIC Committee.  We righted a wrong before it was released in the final RFP and consultants are now able to participate.   We also want to thank Molly Shea, the U.S. Census Bureau contracting officer on the RFP for listening to industry concerns and clarifying the language.

Please know that the APMP staff and its PIC are ready to mobilize at the first sign of a draft RFP that appears to be unfair or exclusionary to members in our industry.  If you see something that looks troublesome, please send the offending language and a copy of the draft RFP to rick.harris@apmp.org.

We will educate and advocate on your behalf and let federal agencies know for you and with you where we believe the proposal industry has been compromised in future RFPs or rulings.  We know through the U.S Census Bureau exercise that it works!

Here They Go Again – Another Federal Agency Turns Its Back on Consultants in Draft RFP

May 18, 2015 – Directly on the heels of the Veterans Affairs RFP No. VA118-15-R-0558 that prohibited consultants from participating in the task order phase of the RFP comes another RFP, this time from the U.S. Census Bureau that also restricts technical consultants from participating.shutterstock_175538990

Alerted by an APMP member company, APMP has submitted formal comments to the U.S. Census Bureau imploring them to remove language from its Draft RFP YA 1323-15-MS-0003 for Multi-Tiered Acquisition Framework for Systems Engineering and Integration that restricts/prohibits technical consultants from participating on the RFP unless they are part of the offeror’s team.

Specifically, at issue is the U.S. Census Bureau language that states, “NOTE: In order to ensure proposals reflect the technical abilities of offerors and their subcontractors, not those of outside technical experts who will not be involved with performance post award, the use of technical consultants to help prepare the proposal is strictly prohibited unless the technical consultant will be part of the offeror’s team as a subcontractor after award of the ESF. As part of their written (and oral if applicable) proposal, the offeror shall certify, in the proposal introduction, that their proposal was prepared only by the offeror and its subcontractors.”

The difference between this and the VA RFP is that we caught this one early and have a chance to comment before it goes final.  Again, we believe this language is short-sighted, not in the best interest of the U.S. Census Bureau, and almost guarantees a proposal that is less than what it could be when consultants are involved.  We think this exclusionary language is wrong and should be eliminated from the final RFP for the following reasons:

  • It does not promote collaboration between Industry and Government or encourage the best proposal submission – both hallmarks of the FAR. Instead of stimulating collaboration, this language discourages it by ordering consultants, a vital part of every RFP, to stand down.
  • APMP believes every company should be able to employ whomever they wish to produce the best proposal for Government whether they are full or part-time. This exclusionary language actually creates a counter-effect that limits companies from bringing in the best people to help communicate the best plan for Government to evaluate.
  • APMP believes this action discriminates against small-to-medium companies who routinely hire consultants to participate on all parts of a proposals. This language unfairly favors large companies that have the financial resources to keep SMEs on staff year round – a luxury most small to medium sized companies cannot afford.
  • APMP believes the language inhibits an entire sector of the proposal industry (consultants) from earning a living simply because of their classification.

We find it particularly disturbing that after the VA “no consultants” language, most of the professionals in Government we met with were also appalled but told us not to worry because they believed it was an isolated, one-off attempt.  A few months later, and we see similar, exclusionary language from a completely different agency. Our fear was then and continues to be that this could become a regular requirement for all of the wrong reasons. Once is an anomaly, twice is worrisome and three times is a trend.

APMP continues to believe that Government has benefited tremendously from proposals with consultant participation in the past.  Consultants are brought in on proposals to help the SMEs better articulate the message so that the Government can better understand the solution and make it easier to select the best solution provider. Intelligence and expertise does not mean SMEs are great communicators/writers.

That’s why we are fighting this language and we ask you to join us.  As an industry we must unite behind our consultant members. Whether you are a consultant or a company that hires one to help on your proposals, this type of exclusionary language is destructive to the proposal process and has to be stopped.

APMP has already filed its formal comments before tomorrow’s 10 AM May 19, 20015 deadline using many of the points outlined in this post.  If you would like to join the list of companies commenting please do so by e-mailing ACQ.SEI.Enterprise@census.gov and make sure to put (YOUR COMPANY NAME) – DRAFT RFP Comments – YA1323-15-MS-0003.

We’ve asked that the U.S. Census Bureau take action and remove the offending language.  We’ve let them know that Industry strongly believes this is an arbitrary requirement in attempt to perfect procurement, but actually has a negative rippling effect that will contribute to a proposal that promotes exclusion.

We hope you will too.  Send this link to your Industry colleagues and have them join us.

Seattle Scores Second Highest Attendance in APMP Bid & Proposal Con History

May 15, 2105 — With just a few days left to register, APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con Seattle 2015 is a big attendance success. APMP staff confirms at least 726 registrations with less than a week to go.

Attendees will enjoy 60+ educational sessions, increased networking events and opportunities and a chance to be in the same room with other professionals who understand the challenges of today’s proposal professionals. All this set against the backdrop of historic Seattle featuring Pike’s Place Public Market and a weekend of Memorial Day celebrations Seattle style.

Some of the firsts to be revealed at this year’s APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2015 will be:

1) Hot off the press stats and facts from APMP’s 2015 Compensation Report. The complete report will be e-mailed to all APMP members in June 2015.

2) Access to a new industry report produced by APMP’s Procurement Improvement Committee called the Road Map to Better Government Procurement. The full guide will be available to all APMP members in June 2015.

3) The first-ever APMP Ignite presentations. Several of your peers/colleagues, on stage, giving five minute presentations using only 20 slides about something industry related that the love. It’s fast paced, fun and brand new.

APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con 2015 attendance in Seattle keeps pace with the growing trend of increased proposal professionals at APMP events. Here is how APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2015 attendance stacks up in the attendance race since 2011.BPC Five Year Numbers

Next year’s APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con 2016 will be in Boston, MA May 25-28. Only time will tell whether Boston surpasses Chicago as APMP’s most favorable Bid & Proposal Con city.

APMP Inks Global Book Deal

April 30, 2015 – APMP has inked a book deal with the world renowned Wiley Publications to produce the Writing Business Bids & Proposals For Dummies book that will hit store shelves Dummiesglobally in early in 2016.   The publishers contacted staff in February 2015 and we have been quietly negotiating with them to close the book deal.

The book will give APMP and its members exposure and bookshelf space it could have never afforded.  It will help consumers, marketing professionals and SMEs and others who are new to the proposal process to understand the complexities of writing an excellent proposal.   Clearly this book is not targeted for the seasoned APMP proposal veteran, but it is strategically positioned to introduce the next generation of proposal writers, coordinators, and managers to APMP.  The book will be a product of APMP’s Commercial Community chaired by Robin Davis of Metre Works and Melissa DeMaio of Ernst and Young.

APMP members are busy writing the book following the strict For Dummies guidelines.  The book is intended for the entry-level market who most likely know nothing about APMP or the art and science of proposal writing. Our goal is to make them aware of APMP best practices as defined in the APMP BOK, so they will want to learn more from our consultant members and ultimately become part of APMP’s growing family.

When working on the deal, the publishers told us, “At Wiley, through the For Dummies guides, we aim to ensure that information on how to write business bids and proposals is made accessible to the general consumer/business market, and SMEs in particular, who might not know how to tackle what could be seen as quite a complex area of business strategy.”

APMP’s logo will be featured on the book and spine and will be acknowledged as the authoring organization.

Wiley’s Books for Dummies property is the world’s best-selling reference guide with collection that has been translated into 30+ languages and sold in 100+ companies.

According to Wiley research, US consumers own an average of three For Dummies books and a new For Dummies book is bought once every minute in the UK.

Consultants Unite: “APMP is the First Association to Contact Us On This Issue”

April 28, 2015 – APMP’s campaign (Consultants Unite) to make Capitol Hill leaders aware of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (RFP) No. VA118-15-R-0558 that prohibits consultants from participating in the task order phase of the RFP took a new turn Monday.

APMP met with Julie Dunn, Senior Counsel, House Committee on Government Operations, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who is the point person on procurement and acquisition related issues and Emily Murphy, Senior Counsel, shutterstock_59994709Committee on Small Business, US House of Representatives.  Both said they were surprised when the RFP was released with the restrictive consultant language and were even more surprised that APMP was the first association to approach them on the issue.

When first released, both Ms. Dunn and Ms. Murphy thought the issue would become a rallying cry professional and trade groups throughout the US who represent consultants. “So far, APMP is the first association to have contacted us and we’re really surprised by that,” said Ms. Dunn.

Both agreed with APMP that the VA language threatened consultants and created a “slippery slope” for inclusion of future language.  Both thought the intent of the VA was to ensure that its contractors truly knew the complex IT issues and could explain it in the task order.  However, both understood APMP’s position that intelligent people responding to the task order and subsequent RFP don’t always make for the best writers or communicators.  They agreed that professional consultants in the proposal industry are hired to help the SMEs win new work and are significant contributors to the process and APMP should protect their interests.

Ms. Murphy was emphatic that the VA’s language is a blow to small businesses everywhere that regularly hire consultants for their proposal work.  She believes the language could restrict smaller companies from competing, an opinion shared by APMP.

When asked if the exclusion of consultants restricted to a task order rather, than the entire proposal downgraded APMP’s position, Ms. Dunn said that it is neither more or less significant because the task order is part of the proposal pie and should be view with the same importance.

APMP laid out its plan to address the issue further and received advice from Ms. Dunn and Ms. Murphy to schedule more meetings on the Hill, talk to the original contractor that protested the restrictive VA language, meet with like-minded associations to build a coalition and report back to them on the mood of those APMP has talked to.  If the information we receive and share is significant, both said the APMP led issue could warrant a future Congressional hearing.

The Next Steps for APMP:  Through its Procurement Improvement Committee, APMP will continue to schedule the meetings suggested to protect its consultant members.   We will also continue to keep you posted on all subsequent meetings.