Realities of proposal travel
A couple weeks ago I did something that doesn't happen too frequently these days. I traveled for work.
The vast majority of the work I do - strategic consulting, training, proposal writing, proposal management - can be done most effectively from my home office or my client's DC-based offices. It's really unusual for me to head out and spend time with the folks who are designing projects in the field. This time - with project design and budget development all happening in Nepal - it made sense for me to also sit with the team to write the proposal. Or so we thought...
When you say you're flying to Nepal next week, people get this strange look in their eyes, like you must be some kind of secret adventurer. I always try to explain to folks that when I say I'm traveling for work it mostly means that I'll be sitting in day long meetings, working 6 am to 10 pm, and sitting holed-up in hotel rooms trying to meet deadlines. That's not nearly as sexy as hiking the Himalayas. Even if you can see them from your hotel window.
This marked the second time I've been to Kathmandu. It was fun to come back - even working with some of the staff that I worked with the last time I went.
Ultimately, there were pros and cons for traveling. For my client, the pros outweighed the cons, but I want to capture those for those who would be interested.
Pros: Being in the office with the team as they worked through the technical design meant that I could ask questions and really understand the challenges. Working with a team with less proposal experience meant that I had a lot of value to add to the discussion, helping them stay focused on the donor priorities. The 9 hour time difference would have made it nearly impossible to get the real-time feedback and response I could get being in the same time zone.
Cons: Traveling always costs my clients more money, because it means more hours, hotel cost and per diem. Also, the second week I spent almost exclusively holed-up in my hotel room just writing and editing and re-writing. That felt a little strange to be essentially working from home, but from another country.
So is it worth it to send me to help write a proposal? In this case, yes!