Co-Authoring for Proposal Managers
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The smarter way to respond to RFIs, DDQs and security questionnaires
The X factor for analyzing and writing winning bids and proposals
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After Privia were acquired by Xait we asked Cheryl Smith (formerly with Privia) to write a series of “travel letters” exploring both features of XaitPorter and to share her expertise; Cheryl have 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. Read part one of the series below!
Proposal writing is a team sport, tasking experts from across your organization to collaborate and bring a compliant and compelling win strategy to life in the proposal. Writing as a proposal team, however, is a different story. With traditional proposal management platforms, more people writing means more locked files, a lot of waiting to write, and more version control issues. More content means more differing styles, tones and voices to smooth during reviews. Things that complicate your process and put evaluator engagement and trust at risk.
To overcome these proposal management challenges, teams have turned to co-authoring. How does co-authoring eliminate these challenges? How does co-authoring deliver proposal manager control over the content and the process? That’s what we’ll explore here on this leg of our journey.
You have one proposal manager, one coordinator, a graphic designer, two writers, six subject matter experts, a number of partners and a tight deadline. When your proposal management platform is file-based, you slice and dice your proposal into multiple documents. This gives you the permission control you need to make assignments, but it also delays kick-off and writing. Besides, expertise and assignments tend to overlap across proposal sections – and in the end you’ll have to carve out time to pull it all back together again for submission.
With Xait, your co-authoring solution is database-driven, so you swap the slice and dice for a single document and jump-start writing. Just grant your team the appropriate section permissions. Now your team writes together, in parallel, at the same time, in a single document. Version control is automatic and new content can be dragged and dropped in from your content library, without introducing new formatting styles. Meanwhile, the proposal manager has complete control over the proposal content.
Proposal writing can often feel like hurry up and wait, and wait, for another writer or subject matter expert to finish and unlock the file. But the people who comprise your proposal team also have full-time jobs, shifting priorities and conflicting deadlines. Waiting is not an option, not if you want to hit your deadline.
With co-authoring there is no waiting. Everyone accesses the proposal document when it is convenient for them. Gone is the check in/check out process. Instead of waiting for a colleague to unlock a file so they can work, teams work together at the same time. They write and review their assigned sections in parallel without worrying about version control. Meanwhile, proposal managers use security measures to ensure only the right team members and partners have access to certain content.
The rise of geographically diverse teams, coupled with remote work, has only complicated proposal team visibility. We’ve come a long way by centralizing proposal work, however, team members are still writing in a silo, without visibility into the bigger compliance, strategy and content picture until review time.
With co-authoring, teams aren’t writing in a silo, waiting until review time to see what everyone else has been working on. Everyone can see what everyone else is working on, based on permissions. For example, does compliance map between these two sections? Are the proposal themes redundant? This view of the bigger picture reduces redundancies and inconsistences, smoothing story and content across sections to make your proposal easier to review and evaluate. When everyone can see where their piece of the proposal puzzle fits, writing is more productive and more inclined toward quality.
At the same time, Xait co-authoring also provides review visibility. For example, your content and graphics review and approval process can now work in parallel with content and graphics creation. You can even choose whether your reviewers are allowed to comment vs edit. Meanwhile, the proposal manager has complete visibility into writing and reviewing progress.
As technology evolved, government contractors took advantage of proposal management tools to save time and streamline the process. Now, thanks to the time we’re saving with the software, evaluators and decision makers are demanding higher proposal quality. What does proposal quality even mean?
Like beauty, proposal quality is in the eye of the beholder. In our case, that means writing from the evaluator’s perspective.
With co-authoring, or writing and reviewing together in parallel, you save time, time your team can invest in elevating proposal quality to meet decision maker demand. That means you can invest more time tailoring your content. For example, personalizing content to engage evaluators and ease the evaluation and scoring process. Connecting the dots between their goals and your solution so they begin to imagine how their business and their lives, and the lives of their employees, clients or constituents, will thrive with you and your solution. Using proposal themes to capture their attention and clearly communicate “Why it’s urgent you should read and understand this section” and “Why it’s urgent you should select our solution”.
A new breed of collaboration tool is changing the way we work; making it easier to leverage expertise and invest time in quality while maintaining the control proposal managers need to shepherd their teams to the deadline. Co-authoring is just one of the ways our journey together from Privia to Xait is giving our client community an edge over the competition.
Related article: How Layout Templates Save Proposal Production Time
Cheryl Smith is our Senior Content Writer. She has additionally 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.