Minimum requirements for an enterprise proposal software solution

Minimum requirements for an enterprise proposal software solution

Silje Stensland
14. Apr 2020 | 7 min read

Minimum requirements for an enterprise proposal software solution

Selecting the right proposal software platform for your business can seem like a daunting task, with a large number of vendors and a wide range of solution offerings.

Before you start looking at specific solutions, you should introspect about precisely what you’re looking to gain from this purchase/partnership.

 

What do you want your proposals to achieve?

At first glance, this question may appear strange, but surprisingly many organizations never stop to think much about it. The key goal of a good proposal is to convince the prospect that you are the right fit for their business needs. Out of the heaps and heaps of proposals on their desk, the evaluators must see yours as the one proposal that they want to put their money on.

Sure, the companies and organizations that consistently put forth winning proposals rely on proposal solutions to efficiently manage their content and streamline workflows – but not just any solutions. They didn’t just google “the best proposal tool” and click on the first result that seemed to answer their query.

There are a few fundamental components that every enterprise proposal platform should possess for it to be an effective and reliable solution. Some of these features and capabilities are not always available in every solution in the market.

Look out for the following key characteristics when choosing an enterprise proposal software solution for your company.

 

Automatic formatting, layout and numbering

A good proposal solution allows you to work with set document templates. This means you don’t need to spend any time applying manual numbering, formatting or layout, as it is all taken care of automatically.

Furthermore, automatic formatting, layout and numbering ensures your documents will always follow brand guidelines, and also helps writers focus solely on content.

 

Built-in workflow with review / approval stages

The proposal solution you’re considering buying should offer a built-in workflow system to simplify your proposal creation and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

The built-in workflow makes it possible for a large number of people to seamlessly co-author on the same document, at the same time. This means that the content review and approval process can start in parallel with the content creation.

A built-in workflow system enables you to assign tasks, set deadlines and control the process from start to finish. When changes are made to a section, everyone involved is notified with an internal message in the solution, or by an automatically sent email.

 

Security

In today’s global collaborative work environments, where dozens of employees and contractors could be working on a single deal or document, safeguarding your confidential information cannot be overemphasized. So pay a LOT of attention to the security measures that the proposal software solution offers.

Make sure the solution is ISO 27001 certified, which ensures that the vendor has stringent processes in place to identify, manage and reduce information security risks.

Also look for a proposal solution that keeps your confidential information secure by offering a secured database-driven content repository that allows access to only those who are authorized to access it.

 

Central content repository

The proposal solution you select should offer master content management and composite document management capabilities. This means that you can easily keep your data in a central content repository.

A central content repository allows you to dynamically use the same content in different documents or in various formats. The labor-intensive and expensive work of editing need only be carried out once, on one document. Further amendments are automated, and all lived documents are updated at the same time.

Templates and previously submitted proposals can also be accessed from a central content repository, massively reducing time and effort spent searching for and re-using content.

Read more: A buyer's guide: What to look for in proposal software

 

Professional output supporting vectored and high-resolution graphics

Everything in your proposal, from start to finish, should lead to one logical conclusion: This proposal is the obvious choice. To achieve this, proposal teams strategically use graphics (charts, graphs and images) to emphasize key points and allow reviewers to follow the logical structure of the proposal.

Any enterprise proposal solution needs to ensure consistent, professional output by supporting high-resolution graphics and pictures as well as vector-based graphics, both in document layout and content.

 

Scalability

A good database-driven proposal solution can be used as a platform for any document or information centric processes.

As your company grows and customer demands change, you’ll need flexible and scalable solutions that can adapt to your evolving business model and continue to meet your specific needs. An enterprise-ready software solution should allow and encourage scaling, not only locally, but globally.

When your organization needs to rapidly scale, the proposal solution should be ready at all times, without you having to re-configure the database. Not only will this save money, but it will save massive amounts of time and manpower.

 

Open APIs

Will the software solution you buy be obsolete in five years’ time? That might easily be the case if you choose a stand-alone product that lacks compatibility with other systems your company uses, today and in the future.

A few years from now, your business requirements may not be the same as today. Make sure your chosen proposal solution is built on open APIs, allowing it to work and integrate with both existing and future applications and infrastructure. This ensures that one central pool of data is used across your organization.

 

Battle-proven

Has the software solution demonstrated its abilities and been the preferred solution across a wide range of industries for, say, two decades? Has it consistently delivered results for other businesses in your particular niche or sector?

Battle-proven software has gone through continuous development and user feedback cycles. It’s had kinks ironed out, and it’s had new features added at the suggestion of users. It’s reliable. it causes fewer problems, and it just works.

What’s more, battle-proven software is going to be around for the foreseeable future, optimizing your business processes and helping you scale.

Read more: Everything you want to know about proposal software

 

Conclusion

To help you keep on top of the workflow when multiple contributors work on the same document, any enterprise proposal software worth its salt needs to meet a set of basic functionality and system requirements.

First, the software solution has to be able to bring proposal writers together by providing a centralized collaboration functionality that effectively replaces the endless email back-and-forth.

Additionally, to improve co-authoring and collaboration, the solution must enable you to edit and create content by either adding new content, reviewing and approving the content, or reusing content by both copying and linking to master content. All the while, users need to instantly see who is doing what.

Second, the software solution should offer key capabilities such as document automation, document assembly and high-quality publishing in a secure environment not reliant on files.

Finally, the solution must allow users to obtain the information they need anytime and anywhere. Thus, it needs to have a comprehensive knowledge base or information database (central content repository) that is easy to search and access.

 

case study with dinhms-gruppen

 

Silje Stensland

Silje Stensland

Silje is Marketing and Communications Director of Xait. She holds a Bachelor in Marketing Communication and an Executive Master in Business Administration. She is an analytical, efficient and results-focused marketing and communications professional and her career spans over 15 years within real estate, oil & gas and IT. When Silje is not busy growing the Xait brand, you can find her at her family cabin in picturesque Sirdal, Norway, hiking, trekking and cross-country skiing.

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