Timeline: What should I do after I submit the LOI?
If you prepared your Letter of Intent (LOI) in the fashion suggested in Tutorial 13, you will have a solid foundation for developing the Project Narrative. You will have conducted background research in order to better understand DOE’s interest. You will have raised any lingering questions that you might have through a phone conversation with the Topic Manager. You will have begun a literature search and initiated the formulation of your research objectives and projected outcome. Aside from these creative efforts, you will have also registered with PAMS, secured your DUNS number, and your employer identification number (EIN). Now you have to accomplish everything else! And you only have six weeks to do it in!
To be mindful of what lays ahead of you – be sure to download the DOE provided Proposal Preparation Checklist and put it next to your computer. This checklist is very helpful and identifies the various components of your application that you must prepare. However what it doesn’t say is that in all likelihood there are still a number of additional registrations that you must complete; that you need to line up reviewers and allow sufficient time to consider and incorporate their feedback, that you must continue to develop your team, work on the financials; and download the application package from grants.gov! The question is in what sequence should you tackle these things?
I tend to group activities into different bins:
- Bin 1: Activities that depend on others – such as securing additional team members; letters of support; gaining permission to use someone else’s facilities; and registering with other required on-line systems.
- Bin 2: Activities that require creativity and considerable thought.
- Bin 3: Grind-em out activities – such as preparation of biographical sketches
- Bin 4: Things that I know nothing about that the proposal asks for – in this case it might be a data management plan
- Bin 5: Editing and packaging
After generating this list, I immediately begin to ask myself where I can I get help as I have come to recognize that in order to do a good job, I need assistance. People can help in various ways: by assuming some of your other responsibilities (whether they are personal or business), thus giving you more time to work on the proposal. Others can assist by tackling some of the activities that you have identified in the various bins – such as editing, packaging, and grind-em out activities. I stay focused on the merit review criteria that will be used to evaluate my application. I also focus on generating creative solutions, and on the financials. Others, may divide up their time in different ways – but divide it up, you must. Over time your efficiency at preparing proposals will increase – but at the beginning – in order to give this proposal your best effort – it will take a significant amount of time from you and your ad hoc or formal team.
After assembling your proposal preparation team [formal or informal] I suggest that you then add constraints to the equation. Consider what needs to be done first? What activities have you been advised will require more time or are critical. The following table contains a list that will work in most situations and begins with a count down of six weeks beginning with the submission of your LOI.
The following is a conceptual discussion of the table you will find in the pdf and multi media versions. Both contain more information regarding important activities – so please be sure to review either of these
But here’s a macro view. In week 6, I address all Time Sensitive Tasks as well as those that involve Others. For example, I complete all remaining registrations, and focus the rest of my time on putting the technical team together and securing facilities, as needed. In week 5 I focus on the innovative elements of the project narrative – making sure that I have provided compelling information in the section entitled “Identification or Significance of the Problem/Opportunity and Technical Approach.” I also preview the financial requirements so I am well aware of what I have to do. In week 4, I work on the Commercialization plan and sure up commitments from members of the team I am assembling. I need commitments so that I can develop the financials. In week 3, I circle back and make sure that I am on track and that I am addressing all of the requirements, I also complete the draft of the Project Narrative and refine it in preparation for a review by others. In week 2, I engage the red team asking them to review my draft using the merit review criteria articulated in the FOA . In week 1 I make revisions to the content based on the feedback from the reviewers, and edit and format all of sections of the application package. I remind the AOR that we will need to submit the proposal 48 hours before the due date and then proceed to do so.
Everyone approaches proposal writing in a different way. The method I have outlined puts tasks into bins. I make sure that I start with those that involve others and are time sensitive – such as some of the registrations we have discussed – SAM and grants.gov in particular. I consider who I can turn to for assistance. I personally focus on the merit review criteria and in developing an innovative solution that is clearly compelling. I don’t leave the financials to the last minute because I have learned that they are always more complicated than I anticipated. I utilize a red team and allow sufficient time to revise my concepts, based on their feedback.