Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How many pages in a business proposal?

I've been preparing a few proposals recently that have asked for a limit on the number of pages that you are allowed to submit.

Why does anybody insist on a certain number of pages? They do it to try and make a fair choice, without having to plough through mountains of content. To focus the response on what's important.

But to be fair, allow each supplier to fairly express themsleves. Some proposals can easily be short, but a proposal should have a natural length based on its complexity and the number of questions that need answering. Sure, have a guide for a number of pages, but really if you ask for an eight page response and have twenty questions to answer , then how can anyone answer any of those questions adequately?

Do the procurement people only allow the first eight pages? Would they discount the proposal because it went a couple of pages over, even if it was clearly the best? Maybe, maybe not. It may depend on the formality of the procurement. If in doubt ask the question and be prepared to start editing.