6 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Deliverables


The next part of the Business Proposal to write is the Deliverables section. The Deliverables section should be simple to understand but many Proposal Writers fall over themselves here.

Where to start with Deliverables

Let’s play good cop, bad cop for a minute.

In the Request For Proposal, it asks that you deliver the following:

  • Understanding of project scope and requirements
  • Description of the proposed research methods and rationale
  • Project team and references (and that of sub-contractor if applicable)
  • Work plan and schedule
  • Detailed budget estimate
  • Final written report (expected to include an executive summary,
  • conclusions, supporting charts, analysis and recommendations).
  • Printed and electronic submission of proposal in both Spanish and English

What the RFP writers want to see if your response is two things:

  • Confirmation that you will do (deliver) these
  • Examples of how this will be done.

If you don’t give some examples, then it’s hard for them if you can genuinely do this or… are simply saying Yes to get your foot in the door.

Common Mistakes When Responding to Deliverables

One of the difficulties in writing the deliverables section is that you’re trusting the project manager to ‘deliver’ these requirements.

In some situations, this section is given to the PM to write. This makes sense up to a point. However, you need to be careful that the PM, in his/he eagerness to please the team lead will commit the following mistakes.

1. Too Much Detail

An inexperienced project managers may become enamored with his work breakdown structures. Instead of keeping things simple, they may design the WBS so it becomes almost impossible to manage.

For example, we worked on a project in Shanghai where the PM created 275 work packages; some were broken down into minutes rather than hours or days.

Unless you know a little about PM, it’s hard to know where they’ve gone wrong. This “micro-level” WBS is excessive. Not only was it impossible to manage but it made our partners doubt the ability of the PM to oversee such a complex project. The takeaway is that your Project managers must establish an appropriate WBS level from which to manage, otherwise get a second opinion

2. Lack of Experience

As above, if the PM is new to this area, consider getting another PM to check their figures. Many young PM will pretend they have worked in an area to avoid been exposed as inexperienced.

3. Ignoring Risks

All projects have risks. An inexperienced project managers may not see potential risks in the project. If the necessary contingencies are not put in place (or at least acknowledged) then your project costs could escalate if an unexpected event arises.

4. Agreeing To Unreasonable requests

Most project managers want to please the customer. But, there are limits. Make sure the PM is not bullied into agreeing to new deliverables without consulting other team leads. Likewise, make sure that scope creep is addressed upfront so the client does not try to squeeze in new features without paying the full price.

5. Not Understanding Stakeholders

It is critical that, as part of stakeholder management, project managers interview the stakeholders to learn what information they deem as important and then act accordingly.

They also need to understand the tracking metrics or key performance indicators (KPI) so they can design an different performance dashboard for each stakeholder.

6. Jumping to Conclusions

Novice project managers, with little hands-on experience, may jump to conclusions or interpret requirements based on a limited understanding of how these will impact the project schedule. You need to monitor these project manager and ensure that they consult with subject matter experts to get the correct figures.

How to Write Better Deliverables

The best way to write the deliverables is to:

  • Include descriptions of the types of reports that will be used in the project.
  • Show Status Reports and detailed information on risk, vulnerabilities, and the necessary countermeasures and recommended corrective actions.
  • Include sample reports as attachments to the proposal to demonstrate that you’ve supplied these types of reports to other clients.

Then, break out the key deliverables and work through each one individually. In other words, instead of agreeing to provide these deliverables, paint a picture in the reviewer’s mind so they can see how you will do this.

The key is to see every page on the proposal as an opportunity to build more trust with the reviewers. Use each section to demonstrate your competence and how your understanding is greater than the other bidders.

Remember, to add the deliverables to the project plan with an estimated delivery date. More accurate delivery dates will be established during the scheduling phase, which is later in the proposal.

Next up, we’ll look at how to schedule meetings.

About the Author: Ivan Walsh is a Proposal Writer who develops Business Proposal Plans. He also shares Business Planning Strategies on IvanWalsh.com. Follow him on Twitter & Facebook.