If You Write Nothing Else, Write an Executive Summary

The Executive Summary should drive the proposal writing effort. It should be written before the proposal kick-off meeting so that the selling points made in the draft summary can be stressed throughout the proposal. It should be written by a senior person who best understands the customer and was involved in the customer relationship building effort.

I've always been of the opinion that the executive summary must be included even if it means burning up pages against the page limitation or is not explicitly called for. It should be written to leave the evaluator with the satisfaction that the rest of the proposal is worth reading. And, adopting a journalistic style, if evaluators read nothing but the executive summary they still need to understand what, when, how and why. The executive summary should include a discussion of each of the hot buttons (see Hot Buttons Tell Your Customers You Get It) that you believe are drivers of the procurement.

Sometimes it is also opportune to include a copy of the executive summary written for the technical volume in the financial volume of the response. This way people doing cost realism analysis understand the drivers of those costs.

The Executive summary is usually the one section of the proposal that gets read from top to bottom. If your solicitation doesn't call for one, figure out a way to include an executive summary, maybe by labeling 'Introduction' or 'Overview.' This is your chance to sell your solution and sell the fact that the proposal is indeed worth reading.

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