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Proposal Management: The Expert Contributors Perspective Part 1

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Cheryl Smith



3 min

Today the industry has evolved. To remain competitive government contractors are also evolving their tactics. They are looking beyond the status quo to capitalize on an improved user experience to drive greater productivity.

When many of us began our proposal writing and reviewing journey the industry was also labor-intensive; we searched email for assignments and deadlines, used paper and red pens for reviews, and version control was sketchy at best. But despite full-time jobs, shifting priorities and conflicting deadlines our experts got it done. Fundamental features that seem passé today, like centralized documents, version control, and online review collaboration, became the status quo, eschewing confusion and saving precious proposal time.

The majority of proposal contributors are our experts, our writers and reviewers with the knowledge and expertise we need to compete and win. Improving their interaction with the proposal reduces their frustration with the proposal while increasing their overall efficiency. Here’s how XaitPorter improves the expert user experience to drive value for your business. 

Faster, Clearer Assignment Access

Expert assignments and deadlines are at the core of every proposal process; you can’t write and review a proposal without your experts. And your experts can’t write and review your proposal without knowing what requirements and process steps to respond to by when.

Status Quo:  When experts carve out time to write they check the spreadsheet for their assignments and deadlines. But as assignments and deadlines change, so does the spreadsheet. That means experts must first locate the current spreadsheet. Centralized documents and version control helps, but finding an assignment and deadline, and the right document to work in, remains frustrating.

Status Grow: Experts still consult their assignments and deadlines online, but now, instead of a changing spreadsheet, assignments and deadlines are tracked as an integral part of the proposal document. Experts are notified of assignments and deadlines via email, including a link directly to the correct document. Or experts can consult their online Dashboard and sort assignments based on deadline urgency first to best balance their time. By by-passing the spreadsheet, experts spend less time searching and more time thinking and writing.

No More Check in/Check out

When it comes to proposal management, the power of automatic version control cannot be understated. There is nothing quite like the heart-sinking moment when you realize you’ve been working in the wrong version of the proposal document - especially when the deadline is only hours away.

Status Quo: Experts access the current document version because that is the only version available for them to access. Unfortunately, with version control also came the check-in/check-out process; waiting, and waiting, for another expert to unlock the document. The more experts writing, the more locked files and the more time waiting to write.

Status Grow: Experts skip the wait because gone is the check-in/check-out process. Experts all access the proposal at the same time and write and review when it is convenient for them. Their work is saved automatically, and when they’re done other experts can immediately see what they’ve been writing. Experts are no longer writing in a silo; they can see what comes before and after their portion and tailor for accuracy, flow, voice and tone - and avoid those types of comments during review.

Automatic Formatting

Proposal writing and reviewing is a team sport. Formatting your proposal, however, is not; there are rules to respect and requirements to follow and those are the responsibility of the proposal manager and the production team. While proposal formatting is an eye-catching, visually appealing, and compliance necessity, it can also divide our writing reviewing attention.

Status Quo: Proposal writing and reviewing often finds experts focused more on the formatting rather than the content. Why? As experts write, formatting gets overwritten and cluttered, making it increasingly difficult to organize their thoughts, write and revise. Meanwhile, the proposal moves further and further away from the final compliant and consistent format required for submission. 

Status Grow: Experts are more focused on the content because that’s all they see when they’re writing and reviewing. They can always consult the content laid out in the format, perhaps to check on a graphic or a table, but things like font, size, headings and numbering are formatted for them. Even as they copy and paste in content with different formatting to tailor from past proposals or their content library. Instead of worrying about fonts and bullet styles, experts are using their mental bandwidth to focus on the task at hand; writing and reviewing the content.

In part 2 of The Proposal Management series we will continue to list improvement tips on user experience to drive value for your business. Click below for download.

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Cheryl Smith

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.

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