RFP’s Greatest Hits:

Track 1: Bizarre SME Triangle

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) play a critical role in proposal development. Proposal teams struggle to strategize compliant and dynamic solutions without the help of SMEs and their industry knowledge. Building productive relationships with SMEs is vital for developing innovative and accurate solutions to meet your client’s needs.

What's a "Smee"?

SMEs are consultants, researchers, academics, or industry professionals who provide expert guidance when developing an RFx response. Subject matter experts are just that—experts. Their knowledge goes beyond basic proficiency and delves deeply into their particular industry, looking at the client’s problem from all angles to develop a responsive solution.

Why Do I Need an SME?

Engaging experts during development bolsters the proposal’s credibility and indicates the bidder’s depth of knowledge within the field. SMEs ensure the proposal aligns with industry standards and the RFx’s requests while producing accurate technical responses to questions. Depending on the proposal, you may need to engage several subject matter experts for different sections.

For example, you may enlist experts on…

… the products or services requested.

… financial, tax, and accounting requirements.

… data security, information technology, and software.

… reporting and quality assurance.

… pricing and budgeting.

… customer support and client success.

… legal and contractual requirements.

Their input helps avoid inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the response when explaining complex concepts, technical details, or compliance matters. This might involve explaining industry jargon with the proposal’s target audience in mind or breaking down the steps of the solution.

SMEs also bring about the need for cross-functional collaboration. Involving SMEs encourages collaboration and communication between departments and teams, fostering a holistic approach to the proposal response. As such, synthesizing various expertise and opinions produces a more comprehensive response, demonstrating both ability and understanding.

How Do I Leverage SMEs In My Proposal Process?

To maximize your resource’s contributions, involve them early in the process. Ensure they understand the proposal’s objectives, the client’s needs, and the RFx’s requirements. Remember that most SMEs have responsibilities outside of providing expertise for proposals. Thus, to boost the likelihood of receiving timely and well-thought-out responses, engage early and provide clear expectations.

Along those lines, define specific roles and responsibilities for every SME. Deliberately assign tasks and clearly outline your needs for each response. SMEs may have different requirements for every submission they’re involved in, so always clarify whether you need the expert for content creation, technical copy, reviews, or solution design.

Offer clear instructions, templates, and guidelines for SMEs contributing to the proposal. This makes their job easier and boosts consistency and alignment with the proposal’s objectives.

Set up regular meetings and conduct routine reviews during which SMEs can provide feedback on proposal sections. Encourage constructive criticism and ideas for improvement.

Always Express Gratitude

Remember to show your appreciation for SME contributions—especially after wins! SME insight is an invaluable contribution, often providing the backbone of the RFx response. Acknowledge this value and recognize their expertise, offering gratitude whenever possible.

Are you interested in learning more about leveraging SMEs in your proposal effort? Reach out to our team and discover how we support our clients and their experts on every project. Click here.

Title based on: Bizarre Love Triangle – New Order (1986)

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