Proposals are a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to winning new business for any commercial organization. However, for enterprise companies in industries like Oil and Gas, Construction, or Infrastructure, important proposals and submissions can total hundreds of pages. These high-stakes documents require a great deal of coordination, collaboration, and content from stakeholders across the enterprise. Most often, millions of dollars are at stake. And the undertaking is made even more challenging now that most teams are working remotely.
If you are creating proposals using traditional methods like Word or Excel, you are at a competitive disadvantage. It’s simply no longer tenable to have your team chasing email attachments, juggling printouts, and sifting through shared files. It’s unnecessarily time-consuming and frustrating, to say the least. But more importantly, it means that your team members can spend more time hand-holding the processes versus actually contributing value to a winning bid.
Organizations that continue to rely on last-century approaches to constructing tenders and proposals run the risk of being left behind by more agile competitors. This was the topic of my recent interview with Dr. Idara Umoh on the Xait Factor Podcast, where we discussed the factors that feed successful bids and proposals. And Idara should know, she is an award-winning bid director who spent 17 years creating winning proposals within the UK, Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia. She is a recipient of the Association of Proposals Management Professionals 40 under 40 award.
“Clearly, passing paperwork around the office doesn't really work anymore,” says Idara. “Even before the pandemic, it was a nightmare just trying to chase people around. And with the impact of COVID, many organizations have had to rethink what they do and re-evaluate if it really works.”
One way to gain advantage is by adopting a dedicated proposal management and co-authoring software solution like XaitPorter. Organizations that embrace these tools will be the ones that come out on top in the new norm. Better knowledge sharing, improved speed and effectiveness of people’s efforts, and increased ease in executing ideas and innovations will give organizations a competitive edge. Here are just a few reasons why.
Having a centralized content library not only makes the writing process a whole lot quicker, it also encourages superior content. XaitPorter employs a single source repository where all your content is managed. This ensures that teams are working with the latest pre-vetted content. As parts and pieces are updated or changed, the revisions are included across all of the documents in production. Now you can avoid late-nights and last minute panic trying to determine which is the most current and complete copy of that important proposal.
“If you're working in a global company, you just cannot do without having a system like XaitPorter,” says Idara. “I'm a big promoter of having a big content library so you have all of your cover letters, executive summaries, and technical specifications all in one place. Each engagement is unique and must be targeted to each client, but there is simply no need to write it all from scratch. It just puts you several steps ahead of everyone else.”
Centralized pricing and configuration data is essential as well. Teams using XaitPorter have access to the latest pricing and configuration data that is seamlessly integrated (with XaitCPQ) and can be deployed within the most popular CRM systems. Pre-loaded and pre-vetted templates make it easy to populate and edit the bid while ensuring that the essential elements are all current and accurate. This brings important efficiencies where it matters most...landing the deal.
“Half of the time you find companies bidding for work and they haven't got all their ducks in a row,” says Idara. “The key is to be ready for the tender opportunity even before it is released. If you prep yourself beforehand, it just makes the process a whole lot easier.”
If you’re moving from a disjointed proposal process to new proposal software, the process of moving over can help you solidify your offerings and pricing. Ready-to-go content means you’re not building out each offering from scratch each time. It also brings clarity and efficiency to your sales team because they won’t be questioning what they can or can’t do. Pricing will be more efficient and accurate, and this lowers the risk of proposing deals that can’t be followed through on.
According to Idara, having pre-vetted offerings and content builds tighter and more effective messaging in the proposal overall. “I’ve seen bids and tenders that have a strict limitation on word counts. We may have thousands and thousands of pages of bid response, but in some sections you are limited to something between 400 to 700 words. You need to make sure that you use those words wisely.”
Proposal software will boost your sales because it will encourage a new level of cloud-based collaboration that is simply not possible using file shares and email attachments. For example, with XaitPorter you can create workflows that are automated and allow the different members to contribute, manage and authorize in real time, no matter where they are. These workflows also allow for control of who has access to view and make edits. It then tracks who made changes before a proposal is approved, providing notifications as the proposal moves through the process.
Now, more than ever, organizations are rethinking their workflow, and proposal software allows companies to do more with less while improving performance. “Most companies have had to reduce the number of staff,” says Idara. “So it's made them ask: Do we need all the steps in the process? Can we be better and quicker? There's been a lot of readjustment to cloud-based systems, and it's really positive for those of us working in industry.”
How much more profitable could your company be if your sales team spent less time hassling with the process and more time creating proposals that land more deals? “The advantages are enormous,” says Idara. “You just cannot do without having a system like XaitPorter.” Listen to the entire interview with Idara Umoh on the Xait Factor here.
XaitPorter is the benchmark team co-authoring and automation software solution. Ideal for complex tenders, proposals and reports, and implemented by major corporations around the world. I invite you to learn more by downloading the white paper Co-Authoring: The Future of Collaboration and sign up here for a free demo.
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Writing an effective business proposal has the potential to lay the foundation for a long-term business..