What is a team structure and how does it affect SBIR/STTR proposal preparation?

  • September 12, 2023

One of our big takeaways from our experience with preparing SBIR proposals for clients and our expertise in project management is that there are many different team structures, and there is a best practice for managing each one. Throughout the years, we have worked with teams of varying sizes, structures, and subdivisions. Sometimes, it is straightforward (e.g., three, one founder, one cofounder, and one product developer).

Often, it is far more complex. Some of our larger proposals included cross-functional stakholders. This can be an applicant and one or more individual subawardees or a lead applicant with a handful of partnering organizations. The trick to keeping the project managed well is to identify the structure of a client’s organizational structure and identify which stakeholders are going to act as the point person for each branch of the organization.

The reason understanding the structure of a client’s company is so critical is that stakeholders may have to complete documents. This means it is crucial to know what stakeholders answer to which team members. Establishing early on who will be responsible for ensuring stakeholders and subawardees provide the proper documentation on time will eliminate confusion and delays throughout proposal preparation.

This is also important concerning managing time and communication with stakeholders. In some team structures, it is expected for the proposal preparation specialist to communicate with a designated point of contact stakeholders from each entity or department. At other times, the structure of the client’s company is better suited to the lead applicant handling communication with stakeholders.

Organizational charts are an incredibly helpful way for our clients to illustrate the team structure and help us understand the dynamics and needs of the contributors involved in the grant. Organizational charts are also a great item to include in a slide deck or other document about the company’s overall goals, missions, credentials, and organizational structure. As project management protocols will differ based on the structure of the team, identifying this structure early on and creating a plan that works well with the given structure is imperative for SBIR proposal preparation success.


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We assist our clients in locating, applying for, and evaluating the outcomes of non-dilutive grant funding. We believe non-dilutive funding is a crucial tool for mitigating investment risks, and we are dedicated to guiding our clients through the entire process—from identifying the most suitable opportunities to submitting and managing grant applications.


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