We designed our proposal process to help us win by avoiding the missteps that can easily derail this critical step in the sales process. So, if a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, why are we making so many time-consuming detours between Kick-off and submission?
Technology eliminated our access and communication issues and increased team productivity. Where technology failed our process, however, we created time-consuming detours to get us around the gaps.
Although these detours facilitate task completion, all of those extra turns and pit stops steal time away from our process and make for a longer “drive” to our submission destination. Here are four ways technology innovations are driving detours out of today’s proposal process. Accelerate Kick-off We wouldn’t head out on a road trip without a full tank of gas. And we wouldn’t head into a Kick-off meeting without analyzing requirements, building a timeline and creating “shells” for our contributors to write in. Time spent on compliance and deadlines is critical, but manually creating tens if not hundreds of “shells” and “templates” is a time-wasting detour.
By leveraging our proposal outline, we skip several detours in the pre-writing process.
Creating “Shells”: When we import our outline, the technology automatically creates the documents and sections our team needs to collaborate on, while allowing us to restrict access.
Consolidating “Shells”: When we’re ready to submit, the technology automatically serializes our documents and sections back into one document. Because the technology automatically parses and serializes our proposal, we skip this process detour and accelerate our time to Kick-off.
The last time we went on a road trip, did we bag up some snacks? Of course we did, it saves time not having to stop along the route. Our contributing experts crave the same consideration; easy access to everything they need to make their route from Task assignment to Task completion faster and easier.
By improving expert and content interaction, we skip several detours in the writing process.
Waiting to Write: Co-authoring collaboration allows our experts to write in parallel and write when it’s convenient. Gone is the Check-in/Check-out step - their work is automatically saved.
Getting Started: Instead of wondering what to write or searching for strategy, our experts find compliance details and topics to emphasize at the top of the document – automatically hidden from the final submission.
When we skip these writing detours, we make it easier for experts to balance their full-time jobs with their proposal responsibilities. Instead, they invest their time in analysis and writing and we get to our first draft faster.
We’re getting close to our destination now, but rush hour traffic is about to slow us down. I’m talking, of course, about reviews, where we evaluate our content and make course corrections. Although it’s important to make things easy for our review team, we must balance ease with the results the team needs; a clear, quick route around the traffic and back on the revisions road.
By improving executive and content interaction, we skip these review team detours.
File Wrangling: Instead of downloading a document from email, our executives click on an email link, automatically accessing their reviewing Task. Instead of attaching their version to an email they simply navigate away from their Task, automatically saving their comments.
Redundant Comments: Instead of a silo, executives review together. They see each other’s comments, build on them, clarify them and eliminate redundant and confusing feedback.
Waiting to Revise: Instead of waiting for multiple review documents to be compiled, our experts immediately return to writing. When we skip these review team detours, we make it easier for executives to provide faster, more productive feedback. They are focused on comment clarity and our experts have more time for revisions so we get to our next review faster.
We can now see our destination, and we’re getting excited. Although we’ve made things easier for our experts and our executive reviewers, we’re now faced with the monumental task of reformatting our entire proposal for submission. And time isn’t on our side.
By re-thinking the production process, we skip these production detours.
Reformatting: By establishing a Layout Template before writing begins, we automatically define our formatting throughout writing, reviewing and revising.
Broken Formatting: Instead of touching every word, sentence, paragraph, table and image corrupted during writing, reviewing and revising, we automatically enforced our formatting.
When we skip these production detours we eliminate the bulk of re-formatting time, buying more time to invest in another proposal. And there is always another proposal.
We designed our proposal process to drive efficiency. Yet, over the years, we’ve allowed process detours to creep in and negatively impact our productivity. A new breed of collaboration tools is driving these time-consuming detours out of our proposal process and helping teams create and submit proposals 70% faster.
Cheryl Smith has been writing and managing proposals since 1998. Shipley trained, she has helped establish proposal centers and advised on capture strategy, coached orals teams and lead marketing, communications and knowledge management programs. Cheryl is a graduate of The George Washington University with degrees in Theatre, Communications and Literature. When she’s not sharing her passion for work, she loves drawing, writing, cooking and exploring the Virginia woodlands with her husband, their dog Chase and the fuzzy guests they host for Rover. She recently joined Xait’s Customer Success team as part of their acquisition of Privia.
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