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How to Remove Friction from the Proposal Process

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Kris Sæther



3 min

Winning proposals are born out of friction – the friction that occurs when experts collaborate and create compliant and compelling content. The winning part, however, hangs by a thread when the scale tips over and friction starts to delay your progress and wear down your team. 

What are the main types of proposal friction, and how do they negatively affect your proposal development? And most importantly, how do you eliminate this negative friction from your proposal process so that you can invest in more bids with the same staff?

This blog provides you with the answers.

4 Types of Proposal Friction

Friction manifests in significant ways throughout the proposal process: process friction, revision friction, visibility friction, and formatting friction. Each one has specific consequences that slow you down, and threaten to derail, your proposal process.

#1 Process Friction

A proposal team typically works in a serial manner; each task, such as writing, is completed one at a time. It's the way you've always done it, and sticking with what's worked is often considered a best practice.

The trouble is, a serial process also introduces process friction. 

Consequences: Once writing is complete, the process comes to a halt so the team can ramp up for review. As the serial process unfolds, this friction consumes time, until it’s a last minute scramble that threatens the deadline.

#2 Revision Friction

Reviewers identify solution, strategy and compliance weaknesses. Their feedback is a roadmap of instructions that guide the team during revisions to improve proposal maturity and quality.

The trouble is, revisions introduce friction. 

Consequences: Your process comes to a halt for review. Comments, such as “I don’t like this”, are subjective and take time to interpret and understand. And conflicting reviewer feedback requires even more time for consensus. As you jumpstart the writing process, to make revisions based on feedback, this friction consumes time, while the time needed to correct and strengthen content quickly runs out.

#3 Visibility Friction

Developing a winning proposal involves juggling many different tasks. There are hundreds of tasks to write, review and revise. What tasks should we work on, and when are they due? Emails and phone calls are exchanged frequently to keep track of progress.

The trouble is, lack of visibility introduces friction. 

Consequences: Experts can’t find their assigned tasks. Coordinators can’t see content status. Emailing content hand-offs are sketchy, and managers lack the information they need to make tough day-to-day decisions. As the process unfolds, friction consumes time and erodes team morale.

#4 Formatting Friction

A clear and concise message is more important than ever in today's competitive environment. This is where your proposal format comes in; helping evaluators and decision-makers understand, trust, and take action.  

The trouble is, every time you share a file, and your team writes or reviews, you introduce formatting friction. 

Consequences: Writer #1 uses Times New Roman with double spacing. Writer #2 prefers Garamond. Writer #3 pulls in past proposal content. Suddenly, you have eight Heading 1 styles and numbering is off, and you have to reformat.

Your proposal development doesn’t have to be the frustrating, time-consuming logistics event it is today - there is a smarter way. One where friction is eliminated, accelerating proposal development, without sacrificing accuracy and quality. And where time is saved to invest in more proposals with your same staff. 

Related Article: Achieve your Proposal Goals; Reduce Proposal Friction

Read More: How to Save Time and Bid More: A Guide for Decision Makers


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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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