10 Steps to the Perfect Packaged Substation Proposal

“Perfection has to do with the end product, but excellence has to do with the process.” – Jerry Moran, U.S. Senator

It’s surprisingly easy for engineering and construction proposals to go wrong. If the proposing organization does not clearly understand the request, particularly on a technical level, the proposal can easily fail to address the customer’s true needs.

“Some proposals give zero indication that the organization has really understood what the customer requested,” says David Ducote, head of DIS-TRAN’s proposal department. “Did they even understand what the customer was asking?”

For that reason, DIS-TRAN believes in going through a careful, step-by-step proposal process to ensure we understand the request on a technical level. “We focus on giving customers a proposal that’s truly technically competent and not just ‘next one in, next out,’” says David.

Here’s how.

  • We receive the request for a proposal or quote. Each customer may make the request following different procedures, and we always do our best to accommodate the customer’s own process. “We’ll receive and respond to requests in any form,” says David.
  • We verify it’s for us. DIS-TRAN Packaged Substations is part of a larger family of companies, so we immediately double-check that the request is meant for us and not for a sister company; or if the customer is asking for something out of our normal work.
  • We log it. An organized process requires an organized system. Logging the proposal, creating a database entry for it, and assigning a tracking number is a deceptively simple step, but doing so ensures consistency, completeness, and prompt action in all the steps that follow.
  • We triage it. At this point, David himself reviews the proposal for assignment, priority ranking, and identifying the scope.
  • A Proposal Manager takes ownership. The first four steps are crucial – they set the stage for success – but they’re also just preliminary steps that are completed quickly. It’s here that the real work begins. David pairs projects with Proposal Managers who offer complementary strengths and skills.
  • The Proposal Manager gets started. He or she will review associated documents and drawings, open a dialogue with the customer, ask questions, start building costs, even doing material take-offs, engage internal resource groups (e.g., to perform prelim engineering up front if need be to build their costs). Finally, the Proposal Manager will pull it all together, utilizing either DIS-TRAN’s in-house standard proposal letter or the customer’s own form.
  • We submit the proposal to quality control checks. We review and double-check proposals for completeness, accuracy, and ensure the proposal actually provides the information requested in the RFP or RFQ. “Our proposal QC process has paid dividends in getting out more accurate proposals that better fit what the customer has requested,” says David.
  • We perform a final review before submission. The Proposal Manager will pass the proposal by David for one last check. With his go-ahead, the Proposal Manager will get the proposal back to the customer via email or other means (in whatever way customer needs or requests it).
  • We follow-up. The Proposal Manager will stay in touch with the customer, or get the appropriate rep involved. We try to maintain an ongoing dialogue that helps us understand and spot opportunities where the customer has needs that we can meet.
  • When we're successful, we have an internal "order acceptance" meeting. Here we pull together all the internal stakeholders –David, the Proposal Manager, the Project Manager, any other resource groups in engineering and design, and so on. This meeting ensures everyone at the organization is on the same page and that the Project Managers can immediately get to work without delay.