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CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS FOR TEAM PROPOSAL WRITING Ryan Weber Rocket City Technical Communication Conference.

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Presentation on theme: "CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS FOR TEAM PROPOSAL WRITING Ryan Weber Rocket City Technical Communication Conference."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS FOR TEAM PROPOSAL WRITING Ryan Weber Rocket City Technical Communication Conference

2 Team Proposal Writing  Complex, sustained proposal efforts often require huge teams for completion  These teams can be a strength and weakness, as coordinating members of interdisciplinary, cross- functional teams can prove challenging  Presentation covers challenges and solutions offered by two professional writing ethnographies

3 Aerospace Company  “Bridging Boundaries, Negotiating Differences: The Nature of Leadership in Cross-Functional Proposal Writing Teams.” Roxanne Kent-Drury. Technical Communication  Ethnography examines 10 years of proposal writing strategies at an aerospace company

4 Aerospace Company  Challenges  Proposal teams change frequently  Proposal writers are temporary loans from other departments, and team members “maintain their line affiliations outside the proposal group and so occupy ‘boundary-spanning’ positions in the company” (91)  Proposal managers are often inexperienced managers who lack authority  Writers can go unsupervised and produce proposals that don’t match corporate or audience expectations

5 Aerospace Company  Solutions  Reliable, prominent schedule tracking system Proposal libraries containing drafts of all sections Proposal scheduling devices that chart progress  Negotiating responsibility and accountability Proposal managers must negotiate because they lack authority Proposal manager circulates frequently  Officially designated, neutral space Proposal “bullpen” where writers can work

6 Atherton Jordan, Inc  “Proposal Writing at Atherton Jordan, Inc.” Claudia MonPere McIssac and Mary Ann Aschauer. Management Communication Quarterly  Atherton Jordan is a pseudonym for large Silicon Valley engineering firm heavily reliant on proposals  Ethnography follows seven engineers for eight months

7 Atherton Jordan, Inc  Challenges  Contracts are high stakes, involving investments of $500,000 to $1,000,000  Proposal environment involves people following 52-step process that writers describe as “pressure- cooker”  Writers have trouble anticipating audience needs, questions  Engineers dislike writing and follow writing advice too rigidly

8 Atherton Jordan, Inc  Solutions  “Corporate consensus about corporate writing standards”  Proposal Operations Center Provides management, instructional materials, scheduling help  Storyboarding Collaborative brainstorming technique  Red Team Independent review team that serves as simulated review audience for first drafts of proposals

9 Team Proposal Writing Strategies  Provide neutral location that legitimizes team  Make the writing process visible and public  Establish strong leadership that can coordinate groups and maintain an overall vision of the project  Generate consensus about document standards and vocabulary  Provide mechanisms for offering an audience perspective on the document


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