New Year’s resolutions are infamously difficult to keep, especially as busy proposal professionals. For many of us, the New Year truly began in December, with so many last minute RFPs due in the first working week of 2020. Some may call it “typical” or “poor planning,” but, unfortunately, it is a harsh reality of today’s industry. What’s a busy proposal manager to do?
Whether you’re starting the New Year off with a tight-turnaround “bang” or ramping up for a large pending opportunity, taking time to improve how you win business now will better prepare your team for what the New Year brings.
In this series, we've outlined some common pain points that often slow down proposal development and outlined a few tweaks that can help you save time and focus on the quality that improves win rates.
Resolution #1: Bridge the gap between sales and proposal teams.
According to the Seibert Group, “40% of your success as a proposal manager comes down to all your pre-RFP sales efforts.” This means the information you gather during pre-sales and the bid/no bid discussion is pure gold for your proposal team.
The gap lies in how effective you are at transitioning that information from the sales team to the proposal team, especially if your proposal manager is not part of the bid/no bid discussion. Do it well and your team will have all of the details they need to support your story and win themes in their writing. Fail and you face frustrating, inefficient review meetings that only force additional writing and reviewing cycles.
Resolve to bridge the gap between sales and proposal team this year by leveraging out-of-the-box integration between your sales and proposal software. Instead of downloading RFPs and manually entering and sharing information, import them. Instead of emailing documents to the team, invite your team to visit the documents online, discuss the details, and automatically capture the information you need to share. The information you share will be in context to the discussion and you'll kick-off your proposal with everything the team needs to jump-start quality writing and reviews.
Resolution #2: Crack the proposal time management nut
According to Changepoint, “72% still track project status manually.” This means teams are spending more time trying to figure out what tasks to work on and when they are due and less time working on their proposal tasks.
As a proposal team member, you’re juggling lots of responsibilities, including your full time job, and the easier it is to know what to do by when, the faster you’ll get the proposal job done. As a proposal manager you need to know who is working and when they are done so you can steer the team around bottlenecks that become delays.
Resolve to crack the time management nut through automation; where task and deadline calendars are centralized and real-time, reminders are triggered automatically, and real-time task status is just a click away.
Your team will know, from their desktop, what tasks to work on and when they’re due, and you’ll know if they are stuck or when they are done. With fewer, more effective communication tasks on the team's plate, the team will save time and have more time to focus on the proposal.
Resolution #3: Unlock your remote proposal team
According to The Conference Board, remote work continues to trend up. In fact, Upwork’s “Future Workforce Report” predicts that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028. This means many, if not all of your proposal team are working elsewhere and looking to you for the tools they need to be successful.
Today’s proposal professionals are digital natives and they expect to harness technology to be successful. They are multi-taskers and expect tools beyond email to help them stay organized. They are intuitive and expect instant access to reusable content that will help them get the writing job done right. They are social and expect to hash out an answer to an RFP question with their fellow experts online, anytime, anywhere.
Resolve to unlock your remote proposal team through a secure, virtual environment; where centralized communication saves time, centralized information reduces operating costs, and centralized collaboration improves productivity.
Resolution # 4: Cultivate a more productive team dialogue
While we’re on the subject of remote proposal teams, a recent study by Forbes Insights in partnership with VMWare reports that organizations that make work more accessible to employees spend 20% less time on manual processes. This means that employees who have greater access to their colleagues and their work are more productive.
Improving proposal team productivity is all about managing team time – how we “access” each other and our tasks, work together, and get the job done. Business development needs to discuss pursuits with executives, managers need to consult with everyone on scheduling, subject matter experts need to confer on functionality, writers need to consult with sales on context, and reviewers need to discuss details with executives. All of this takes time, and when conducted manually – via spreadsheets and email and phone calls and meetings – it wastes team time.
Resolve to optimize team time by increasing access: where a secure, collaborative, virtual environment built specifically for proposal teams fosters a timelier, more productive team dialogue. Proposal managers have real-time access to the team, directing tasks, coordinating schedule and guiding everyone around bottlenecks. The team has real-time access to each other, and their work, to discuss details, write content and share decisions. Reviewers have real-time access to specific review documents and their fellow reviewers so they can all come to consensus quickly on decisions and comments.
Your team will thank you for the result; more focused, less frequent status meetings, faster, more productive review cycles, and more time to focus on the proposal quality evaluators crave for the win.
Resolution #5: Conduct effective reviews via Smart Phone
According to a Harvard study, only 47% of an executive’s work is done at company headquarters. This means executives, the people you tap for proposal review cycles, conduct more than half of their day-to-day work on the road, at an airport, visiting clients, and engaging partners.
Your executive reviewers are your proposal gate keepers: they provide feedback on where the team may have blinded themselves to certain compliant issues and solution or strategy weaknesses. Getting them to read takes organization. Engaging them takes quality. Leveraging them takes an effective feedback loop. And in today’s business world, that’s just not happening in the office anymore.
Resolve to leverage your on-the-go review team with a Smart Phone or Tablet feedback loop; where your next proposal team collaboration, be that bid discussion, strategy debate, or review cycle, happens when and where they are. Executives work together online, despite their different locations, and never miss a review cycle. Feedback on documents and graphics is based on consensus, not differing opinions, and the discussion is captured automatically for faster revisions. Proposal managers know when they are reviewing and when they are done so they can keep the proposal train moving forward on schedule.
Bridge the gap, crack the nut, and don't let access issues, like the road, stand between you and your review cycles!