A buyer's guide: What to look for in proposal software
If you were asked to describe your company’s proposal production process in one sentence, which of the following would be the most accurate statement?
If you’re leaning toward number one, you’re not alone: Many companies still rely on manual processes and document management solutions to maintain content and ensure consistency across their organization.
Are you losing bids and proposals as a direct result of using document “collaboration” tools that aren’t really suited for true collaboration? Then the ‘dark triad’ of email, Excel and Word may be costing you millions’ worth of business every year. This is why more and more companies are adopting proposal software to handle their business-critical. time-sensitive documents.
As a proposal manager, you are always busy, so to save you time in choosing the best proposal software for your business, we have put together this 7-tip buyer’s guide.
This feature is enabled by database-driven proposal software. A single source repository is where all your content will be managed. All the documents you need will be housed there.
Anyone who is working on the document at any stage of the creation process will have access (if permission is granted) to all the tables, macros, and forms that are features of the database.
Look for proposal software that allows you to focus on getting the content right without having to deal with versioning issues. A good solution gives you a revision history and a trail audit, so that you always know who made which edit when, and if you really want that edit.
You need to always be able to see and work on the latest version of your document. Plus, it must be easy to restore a previous version of a section or document.
Through this feature the same content can be used and updated in different documents, helping you maintain consistency across all proposals and other high-stakes documents you submit.
Requirements change over time. Before committing to one software solution, make sure it offers a decent API, which supports your business case, today and in the future.
The proposal software needs to integrate seamlessly with existing systems in your organization, including CRM (i.e. Salesforce), contract management, ERP or project systems. Plus, the solution should be able to gather information and templates from integrated CRMs.
The importance of safeguarding your confidential information cannot be overemphasized. So pay a LOT of attention to the security measures that the software offers.
Make sure there is a secure database where the information and data are stored and can only be accessed by that particular software. Plus, you must be able to allow access to the right team members only.
Top-notch proposal software turns quality document creation into a streamlined, painless process – by automating it.
What kind of automation are we talking about? Ready-to-use templates, automatic formatting, bulleting and numbering, and so on. These are features that will eliminate process inefficiencies, saving you lots of time.
Most document creation and management software allows for collaboration, but this doesn’t necessarily improve your process or save you time. Instead, you need to look for a solution that enables true collaboration – the kind of collaboration needed to get the document done and dusted asap, without compromising on quality.
Proposal software allows you to work in real time with your team anywhere in the world, while having complete visibility and control over what changes are being made. What’s more, it enables you to assign tasks to team members and create workflows.
When investing in proposal software, what you really need to check out is quality, speed, security and reliability.
Start by taking a holistic view to make sure the solution fits your overall business needs. Develop a list of high-level requirements that can fulfil your business strategy. This will help to eliminate systems that lack the functionality you really need.
Furthermore, ask the vendors to help you further define your business requirements – they may provide ideas and perspectives that you can draw upon to achieve your business goals.
After researching alternatives, the best thing you can do is schedule a demo and discuss how the proposal software solution fits your organization.
Silje is the Chief Marketing Officer of Xait. She holds a Bachelor in Marketing Communication and an Executive Master in Business Administration. She is an analytical, efficient and results-focused marketing and communications professional and her career spans over 15 years within real estate, oil & gas and IT. When Silje is not busy growing the Xait brand, you can find her at her family cabin in picturesque Sirdal, Norway, hiking, trekking and cross-country skiing.