I am writing an experience report about a recent technology consulting engagement. The intended audience is not necessarily familiar with consulting, the bidding process, or even particularly technical. In the summary I wrote the following statement:

While working at [X Inc.], I co-authored a successful proposal to develop the system based on a business process management system called [Foo].

Several reviewers of the report were confused by that sentence. Foo is a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product business process management system that can be customized to a particular application. Some were unsure whether Foo was a requirement specified in the request for proposals or if it was something my team at X Inc. proposed. (It was something we proposed). Others were unclear what exactly it means to develop a system based on Foo. (We customize Foo to the particular application). What can you suggest as a replacement?


I think "based on" is slightly clunky phrasing here - "using" seems more natural. Paraphrasing to remove the irrelevant verbiage:

We wrote a successful proposal to develop the system using [Foo].

To emphasise that the decision to use [Foo] originated with the proposers, write "by using".

  • After years of Microsoft ads, I am conditioned to interpret [Foo] as the tool you used to write the proposal, e.g. We outlined how to diagram the structure using Visio. This would particularly be the case where the audience is not familiar with the product name. – choster Feb 23 '12 at 22:31
  • @choster: If you were to just read my rephrasing, I suppose you could justify that interpretation. But OP's full version explicitly points out that [Foo] is business process management system. I omitted that from my version because it didn't directly relate to the based on/using/by using distinction I was making, just as I omitted stuff at the beginning of his sentence. By "irrelevant verbiage" I meant those words that don't impact directly on OP's question - which is about how to convey that OP and his colleagues chose [Foo] as the development tool. – FumbleFingers Feb 24 '12 at 0:07

I accept the point that it is not clear whether Foo is a requirement or your technical approach, which could be addressed by rewording. If the audience is going to be confused by the concept of based on Foo, however, I think more explicit language and additional background will be required.

[Y Corp.], a Singapore-based manufacturer of widgets and widget accessories, was in need of a new business process management system. While working at [X Inc.], I co-authored a successful proposal to use a customized version of [Foo] for that system, rather than building a new one from scratch.

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