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Proposal Writing – Analyzing the Client Requirement

Business Proposals - Analyzing the Requirement

Successful proposal writing hinges on an accurate analysis of your client’s requirements – if you get the requirement wrong, you’ll get the solution wrong.

“Pain Analysis”© is a powerful three-step requirement analysis process that will help you to do a much more accurate analysis of the business requirement – before you go about designing a solution and start the proposal writing process.

Step One – List those pains you know

Begin with a deck of Post It © notes – I find the 76mm x 76mm (3inch x 3inch) size perfect for this exercise.

Assemble everything you know about the business problems the client has highlighted to you – and start capturing all of the individual elements of the requirements on these notes – one requirement per Post It.

Keep these descriptions to a maximum of three to six words summarising each element of the overall requirement. At this stage, don’t try to order the Post Its in any particular order or with any particular logic; merely capture the elemental requirements on the notes – sticking them to a whiteboard or a work area on your wall as you go.

Invite anyone else involved in the proposal writing exercise and anyone else who might have any knowledge of the prospect or their industry to work with you and review your major pains list to see if there is anything you are obviously missing.

When finished you’ll have something that looks like Figure 1 below.

Proposal Writing Figure 1: Unsorted pains


Step Two- Look for any pains you or the client may have missed

First, review the list of pains on your board and ask yourself:

  • Is there anything new that you can conclude from these requirements?
  • Is there any unstated business requirement which the client assumes that you will discern from the RFP, but which is not overtly stated?
  • Are there any additional aspects of the target business problems that you can speculate the client must address?

Create a new Post It for each new aspect that occurs to you.

Step Three – Build a Requirements Map©

Your Requirements Map will present all aspects of your client’s complete requirement – all of the pains – in a way that is easy to understand, facilitates team input, and automatically provides you with the Outline Requirements Statement, which you will require for your later Pre-Proposal Review.

Your Requirements Map is also the specification that will tell you how to quickly and precisely write the critical ‘Requirements’ section of your proposal when it comes to the time to start writing – this will become the very core of your proposal – and will make your proposal writing much quicker.

Having completed your Pain Analysis creating the Requirements Map really straightforward. Here are three quick steps to create your map:

a. Sort your brainstormed pains

Work through your field of Post Its —and sort them into related groups.

You’ll end with something that looks like Figure 2 below

Proposal Writing
Figure 2: Pains sorted into logical groups

b. Arrange each group’s Post Its into their ‘run order’

Imagine that you are describing the requirement to a colleague – what point would you start with, what would be next and how would you progress through that description? This thinking will tell you how to order the Post Its.

You’ll end up with columns that look like those in Figure 3.

Proposal Writing

Figure 3: Pains sorted in ‘running order’

c. Give each column a logical heading

Give each of your columns a heading that summarises the aspect of the requirement that they represent when viewed together.

These headings will ultimately become a key part of your proposal writing effort later – so make them – and use language that will appeal to your client: use THEIR language.

Figure 4 below is the finished Requirements Map.

Proposal Writing

Figure 4 Finished Requirements Map

A great benefit of the Requirements Map is the way in which it speeds up your proposal-writing exercise. This is discussed in much greater detail in the module entitled ‘Preparing a Proposal Outline’

However, perhaps the most important value of your completed Requirements Map is the way in which it enables you to “manage” your client requirement more easily – it is a “living” description of the client requirement, which can be expanded and polished as you build your knowledge of the requirement through  research and client contact.

When you are satisfied that your Requirement Map is a clear a description of your client requirement as you are capable of building right now then you are ready to design a solution to meet those requirements – you’ll learn how to do that in the module entitled ‘Writing a Proposal – Developing a Winning Solution’ .

This logical approach to requirements analysis makes all proposal writing infinitely easier.

Return to the home page for the Free Business Proposal Course

Move ahead to Step 4 of the business proposal course – ‘Developing a Winning Solution.