At Richter & Company, we don’t believe in fly-over “pigeon” management. You know the kind — a member of management staff enters the room clueless, sprays less than welcome “stuff” in your direction that changes the course of your project, and moves on to the next unsuspecting crowd.
In order to prevent this kind of unwelcome interruption, it is essential to get management “buy in” early on in the process of pursuing an opportunity. If management is informed and involved, it is much less likely that they’ll burst in during your final efforts, demanding a major change.
Here are Richter & Company’s top five ways of getting (and keeping) management involved in the capture/proposal process:
Start early! Nothing is worse than procrastinating on a large scale program where hundreds of people are involved. If you plan on pursuing a specific opportunity, begin preparation as soon as possible. Everyone will thank you, trust us.
Clearly define objectives & deliverables, but don’t mention exact numbers. A $25 million opportunity may make your job easier when pitching to the people in charge, but if it results in being a program of only half that size, you’re in trouble. Instead of pinpointing an exact figure, stress the importance of the program in terms of your company’s business strategy. Define exactly what is going into a project: the expectations, the scope and the timeframe.
Create manageable parts. Assign jobs. Assign timeframes. Stick to the schedule. Make sure these manageable parts are fluid and can adapt with the changing needs of a program. There will be changing needs, there are with every program.
Be accountable. Reliability is key for all players involved in pursuing an opportunity. Make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to, and your team members are doing what they’re supposed to. If a WBS is due the fifteenth of the month, make sure it’s done by the fifteenth of the month.
Maintain visibility. Be proactive; make progress charts (or e-mails, spreadsheets, or presentations) part of your action plan. Not only does being updated on a project make for a team morale booster, but management will appreciate being “let in” on the status of a project.
Communicate, communicate, communicate! The more management knows about an opportunity, the more they can look out for your interests. And the more they’ll defend your interests. Keep management “in the loop,” and they can anticipate and plan for the needs a project will present.