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Pros and Cons of Proposal Friction

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Kris Sæther



5 min

Friction is resistance, and it has its pros and cons. Between our car’s tires and the road it’s a pro; it helps us navigate corners without skidding. In our car’s engine it’s a con; it reduces efficiency and wears down the parts. The same is true for proposals.

There is positive proposal friction; between experts as they collaborate and create compliant and compelling content. And there is negative friction; obstacles that delay progress, increase rework, and wear down your team. 

How do you start to remove negative friction from our proposal process? And save time to invest in more bids with the same staff? In this blog, we highlight four obstacles to growth, and how to eliminate the friction that causes them for significant time-savings.  

Process Friction

When it comes to process, proposal teams typically work in a serial manner; one task, such as writing, is performed at a time. It’s how you’ve always done it, and relying on a tried-and-true approach is often considered a best practice.

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

Co-authoring, or working in-parallel, eliminates process friction:

  • Instead of waiting to write, experts write together.
  • Instead of waiting to review, reviewers comment together, in-parallel with writing.
  • Instead of re-reviewing completed sections, reviewers evaluate sections that require more attention.
  • Instead of bringing the process to a halt, or “pens down”, the team keeps writing and reviewing.

Instead of consuming writing and reviewing time, a parallel process saves time to invest in more proposals with the same staff.

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. Comments, such as “I don’t like this” are subjective and take time to decipher. And conflicting reviewer feedback requires even more time for consensus. As the revision process unfolds, friction consumes time, while the time needed to correct and strengthen content quickly runs out.

Annotated guidance eliminates revision friction:

  • Instead of wondering what to write, experts write based on strategy.
  • Instead of subjective comments, reviewers provide actionable feedback.
  • Instead of conflicting feedback, reviewers come to consensus during review.
  • Instead of deciphering comments, experts focus on strengthening content.

Instead of consuming revision time, annotated guidance saves time to invest in unique requirements that require more attention. Worried about accidentally submitting with annotations? No worries, they are internal only and automatically excluded from your final proposal documents.

Visibility Friction

A lot of elements must come together to submit a winning proposal. The team must juggle hundreds of tasks. They must know what tasks to work on and when they’re due. No doubt, a lot of emails and phone calls are exchanged to gauge progress.

The trouble is, lack of visibility introduces friction. Experts can’t find their assigned tasks. Coordinators can’t see content status. Content hand-offs are sketchy and managers are strapped for the information they need to make tough day-to-day decisions. As the process unfolds, friction consumes time and erodes team morale.

An Operational Dashboard eliminates visibility friction:  

  • Instead of searching email for tasks and deadlines, experts are writing and reviewing.
  • Instead of wondering about status, managers are using status to drive decisions.  
  • Instead of hand-off gaps, where mistakes are made, tasks automatically flow.  
  • Instead of worrying about bottlenecks, managers head them off before they become delays.

Instead of consuming writing and reviewing time, visibility saves time to invest in compliant, compelling content decision-makers demand for evaluation.

Formatting Friction

In today’s competitive climate, communicating your message clearly and concisely has never been more important. That’s where your proposal format comes in; helping evaluators and decision-makers understand, trust and take action.  

The trouble is, everytime you share a file, you introduce formatting friction. 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.

An automated formatting layer eliminates formatting friction:

  • Instead of delaying kick-off, formatting is automatically applied.
  • Instead of reformatting for reviews, content is automatically formatted.
  • Instead of fixing formatting, experts write and review.
  • Instead of reformatting for submission, content is automatically consistent and compliant with layout.
  • Instead of reformatting based on a brand or style change, a quick change automatically updates the cover, footers, etc.

Instead of consuming writing and reviewing time, automatic formatting saves time to invest in the next proposal.

The proposal process is time-consuming enough without the friction obstacles that delay progress, increase rework and wear down your team. Learn how XaitPorter eliminates proposal process friction to save time, reduce costs and bid and win more.

Related Article: Collaboration is the New Competitive Advantage

download whitepaper co-authoring

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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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