Proposal Team Collaboration Remains a Challenge for 2020

If you’re on social media, and who isn’t these days, you’ve probably noticed that just about everyone is looking back at last year. Some are talking about the gap between proposals and sales or the need for greater transparency and time management. Others are talking about “mind share” and version control and process improvement.

Whether the discussion is framed as a New Year resolution or a quiz, an event theme or a “best blogs” publication, there is a single common thread across the industry; today’s proposal workers need more effective collaboration to win in 2020.

In January, Privia is taking a step back to examine the discussion and share some insights and strategies to help you overcome this core challenge in 2020.

APMP

If you haven’t read APMP’s U.S. Bid and Proposal Industry Benchmark Report Executive Summary, you should read it now. It’s only $99 and if you’re a member (you should be) you can download it for free. It offers the most comprehensive data in the industry and identifies 5 key findings, and takeaways, you can use to understand what’s working and where your competition is headed.

What did we learn? While the majority of the industry has defined a process, a surprisingly low number report that it is actually working well.

To fix this issue, and better position for 2020, organizations may try to improve their process by making it more comprehensive. Unfortunately, the more time teams spend nurturing process, the less time they have to write proposals.

Stop trying to replace the art of writing a winning proposal with the mechanics of a proposal process. It doesn’t work. Give your team an easy and secure way to collaborate online and an effective feedback loop and they will focus on the quality work-product that today’s evaluator’s crave.

Harvard Business Review

No organization, or proposal team, is an island, and Harvard Business Review went in depth about remote team challenges last year with their report High-Performance Sourcing and Procurement - Driving Value Through Collaboration.

What did we learn? Legacy systems, disparate spreadsheets and email chains are blocking effective collaboration between teammates.

To fix this issue, organizations will evaluate team collaboration solution options this year. Savvy organizations will take the big picture into consideration; there is more to collaboration than simply posting and sharing documents. Only by combining enterprise content management with real-time collaboration and proposal-specific task management will organizations advance capture and proposal management process and quality.

Gartner

Whether your process is home-grown, off-the-shelf, or a combination of the two, one thing is clear; people do not work like they did twenty years ago. Gartner echoed this fact in their article “Gartner Finds ‘Gen Zers’ Behave Differently to Millennials and CIOs Must Adapt Their Leadership Approach” which was followed up by their report “Gen Z: How to Lead These Natural Digital Connectors.”

What did we learn? A change in workforce demands a change in leadership.

To fix this, organizations may choose to better enforce existing process, which if history serves, will cause a backlash, making teams feel stifled and micromanaged.

Remember, proposals are a multi-participant operation and today’s proposal professionals are digital natives. They expect to be able to harness technology to be successful. Leaders who provide collaborative tools specific to the job at hand will better leverage their multi-tasking, intuitive learning workforce.

Sam.gov

In November, GSA began to decommission FedBizOpps.gov (FBO.gov) and transition its functionality into beta.SAM.gov. Currently in Beta, SAM.gov will ultimately consolidate 10 procurement award sites into a single information portal. The event is unprecedented in the industry, and caused quite a bit of heartburn for government contractors who lost saved searches and individual watch lists.

What did we learn? Change is hard, but a single information portal has its benefits.

To fix this issue, organizations may turn to their own internal systems, such as SalesForce and SugarCRM, for answers, and integration. The right proposal management software will integrate with sales management to deliver benefits, from less data entry to greater visibility. It will also integrate with SAM.gov, as well as third-party sites including Deltek’s GovWin IQ, to import and secure opportunity information.

Last Minute RFP Buzz

Working proposals is always a challenge, but working proposals last minute during the holiday season was a real drag last year. We followed an interesting discussion thread on LinkedIn on the subject; responding to end-of-the-year RFPs with the same tight-turnaround as earlier in the year. Some called it “typical” or “disrespectful” or “poor planning.” Others called it a “a test to identify organizations who really want the business.”

What did we learn? While it’s hard to imagine any procurement department expecting to derive a best value solution from a proposal team with vacation time on their minds, tight-turnarounds aren’t going away anytime soon.

To fix this, teams may try to better set expectations, define deliverables, and remain calm in the face of chaos. Or, they can choose a solution that does that for them; assigning tasks and enforcing deadlines while delivering a real-time activity and performance status that speeds up turnaround time without the chaos.

Each New Year offers an exciting opportunity for new beginnings. But 2020 is more than a new year, it’s a new decade, and with that comes change, including the new digital workforce and collaborative technology innovation. Organizations who leverage both will reap the benefits.

Download 5 Ways to Bridge the Sales-Proposal Gap