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The Frustrating Wait for Proposal Content

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Kris Sæther



4 min

It’s 6 pm, the night before your next proposal review...

You're double-checking compliance, dropping in a few new graphics and skimming content for inconsistencies. And there it is, your worst fear made real. Pages and pages of missing requirement responses. Content holes so big you can drive a tractor trailer through them. How can you possibly have a productive review when there’s nothing to review?

You take a deep breath. OK, been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. But, you ask yourself, why? Why every darn time?

If you’re over the frustrating wait for proposal content on your large, complex bids, rest easy. Here are two strategic maneuvers you can make right now to put an end to the wait - and get more done. 

Time to Succeed

Overdue proposal content is frustrating, but easy to justify. The expert writing your project plan is about to go live with your new client. The expert responsible for your solution overview is running product development sprints. The expert responsible for the technical solution is still working on another proposal that just got extended. 

You can’t expect on-time proposal content from experts who have full-time jobs on projects with their own shifting priorities. You can, however, tweak your process and buy your experts more time.  

  • Time to think. When your experts are actually able to carve out time to write, make it easy to locate and understand responsibilities and deadlines. Instead of searching email for the current plan, or getting frustrated and moving on to something else, your experts navigate to a centralized dashboard, filter by urgency and have more time to think about what they need to write.  
  • Time to write. With a bit of time on their hands to write, make it easier for experts to access their content tasks. Instead of writing in a serial fashion, one item after the other, co-author and write together, real-time. Working together, at the same time, in the same document, eliminates the “wait to work” while accelerating your proposal content task deadlines. 
  • Time to collaborate. Large, complex proposals are written by a “brain trust,” or a village of experts greater than the sum of their parts. Make it easier for your experts to consult and confer with their fellow experts. When experts can easily flag content with a comment, and assign and communicate with another expert, they keep the collaboration connected to the content, where it belongs, not lost in email. Now your experts have a direct line to this additional task, and more time to respond and finalize.

Stop risking your review and delivery deadlines on missing content, and last-minute scrambles to fill the gaps. Work in-parallel, buy your experts more time to succeed, and elevate expert accountability from can’t to can-do.

Iterate Rapidly

Traditionally, your proposal writing process follows a serial, or sequential, process; one expert works on one section at a time, with no overlap. All experts wait to write until the first expert in the cue is finished. Then they wait for the second expert in the cue, and so on. It’s frustrating for experts with time constraints, and puts you and your proposal at significant risk. Content that should take less time to develop takes more time, putting an additional resource and financial burden on your shoulders. 

You can’t expect on-time proposal content when your experts spend more time waiting to write then writing. You can, however, refine your process and buy your experts more time. 

  • Content to tailor. Stock your content library with easily digestible pieces of content that are easy to search and locate based on relevancy. Instead of wasting time trying to find content to reuse, or worse, using outdated content, your experts are busy using their mental bandwidth to write accurate, well thought-out responses, infused with their expertise.
  • In-parallel reviews. When you add co-authoring to your proposal process, you empower a time-saving byproduct; in-parallel reviews. Instead of bringing your entire team to a stand-still, in-parallel reviews keep your content creation flowing forward. Instead of waiting to find out what reviewing executives think about your content, executives are commenting and shaping your content as it’s being written. 
  • More productive reviews. Proposal reviews are time-consuming, energy-intensive and take precious time away from writing. Co-authoring makes reviews more productive by bringing experts and reviewers together. Instead of providing vague review comments, such as “this needs more,” that experts have to decipher, reviewers and writers are having a productive online dialogue that improves your content accuracy, maturity and quality.   

Stop surrendering your content control to an outdated serial process, bottlenecks and expert frustrations. Work in-parallel, empower real-time collaboration and hit those deadlines.

You’re on a business mission; lead your team and submit a winning proposal. As a proposal manager, you bring understanding, direction, energy, and structure to the process, but you can’t write the content alone. If the frustrating wait for proposal content is derailing your process, and impacting your ROI, then it’s time for a time-saving, volume-scaling change.


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Kris Sæther

Kris Sæther is Chief Commercial Officer of Xait. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Media Studies, and has worked in financial communication in London and Frankfurt prior to joining Xait. He has 20+ years experience from the information management industry. Kris is an avid runner and skier, and a passionate fan of the world’s coolest soccer team, Tottenham. If he is not working or running you will find him cheering for his two daughters on the handball court.

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