Being a consultant is weird sometimes. We have clients who are so open to suggestion that they want us to design their whole program (and hire project staff) and other clients who don't even want to share a basic capability statement because it's privilege intel.
Navigating these differing and nuanced expectations surrounding what a consultant can or can't do is a regular part of our conversations with international development organizations.
Of course, there are a lot of different roles and responsibilities we can fill! (See more about that at the end of this post)
One position we will never fill? The decision maker.
Call it a 'tsar,' call it a 'captain,' call it whatever you like; every proposal team needs a designated decision maker.
The capture or proposal decision maker should be someone with the authority and ability to make strategic choices throughout the proposal process. They provide overall leadership and strategic guidance to the proposal team, ensure the proposal team has adequate resources and makes choices about how resources are best spent, and generally hold responsibility for creating a high quality, competitive proposal.
Perhaps most importantly, the decision maker is responsible for making final decisions about partnerships, staffing, and technical design.
It may be obvious now, but there are some very important reasons that you never want to outsource the role of proposal decision maker to a consultant.
Fundamentally, outsourcing the decision making role is too much risk for any organization.
When you place the power of making technical, staffing, or partnership decisions on an individual outside your organization, it does not matter how good the consultant is or how long you have known them. It's too much of a risk. If you aren't convinced, here are my biggest concerns:
What happens if their negotiations with a key partner fall apart and damage a long-term relationship? Do you want to risk a partnership?
What if the consultant and the country team butt heads? Do you want to burn bridges with your team?
What if they make biased hiring decisions? Unless they're an HR expert, do you want them responsible for an EEO complaint or other compliance issue?
What happens if the proposal is a winning bid, but not implementable? Do you want to run that risk with your funder relationship?
It's just too risky to outsource technical, partnership, or staffing decisions to a consultant. This is why we never take on this role.
Advise on decisions? Absolutely. But the ultimate authority to enter into any kind of agreement, including negotiating and setting the terms of those agreements, should lie with someone within your organization.
Have you been curious about what roles Bid Boss could bring to support your team? Download this resource to see how we describe standard capture and proposal team roles and responsibilities.