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

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Jeremy Widener



5 min

Time is your bid team’s most valued resource. It’s also the most limited. The proposal lifecycle is, in essence, a race against time, with the clock ticking toward the deadline. 

Are you managing your proposal projects with word processing tools? Or other applications that were never intended to handle large, complex business documents? Then the clock ticks faster. 

Your subject matter experts spend more time figuring out what tasks to work on and when they are due than actually working on their proposal tasks. And coordinating these tasks takes even more away from the limited time (and resources) you have to create your proposal.

In 2023, you don’t have to let time-consuming manual processes, coordination, and communication slow down your sales cycle and reduce your win rate. 

Position yourself for success with these three time-saving tactics. And start investing in how to win instead of how to deliver. 

The Challenges of Bid and Proposal Creation

Enterprise-level document creation is complicated by four main issues that consume your time, slow you down and cause unnecessary stress:

  • Searching: Time spent searching for content equals less time invested in using expertise to improve it. 
  • Tracking: Time spent tracking tasks and overdue content equals less time invested in reviews for consistency and compliance.
  • Compiling: Time spent compiling document versions equals less time invested in revisions that improve content maturity.
  • Formatting. Time spent going back and forth, correcting formatting and numbering and corporate brand guidelines equals less time invested in compliance. 

This "traditional" approach to creating large, complex, bids or proposals is the serial approach, and for your business goals, it is neither optimal nor efficient. 

Develop Leaders

Government contractors designate proposal managers, yet these proposal managers rarely manage the people who write and review the proposals they manage. This often causes a dangerous miscommunication gap between “what is asked for” and “what is delivered”. One that can’t be bridged with phone calls, voicemails and emails. 

How do you give your proposal manager the insights they need to bridge the gap? To keep proposal projects moving forward and unlock time and cost-savings? Dynamic, real-time visibility into status and progress keeps the team in sync and on track with content milestones, and accountable.

  • Simplify Tasks. Providing contributors with a centralized view of their tasks, including deadline, urgency, comments, and a direct link to the content, keeps their responsibilities top-of-mind. And your finger on the pulse of progress and status. 
  • Easily Reallocate. A centralized view of comprehensive proposal content, including progres status, keeps your eye on the ball. Now you know what’s progressing and what’s stalled and can quickly step-in, reallocate resources, and avoid any impact on interconnected content.  
  • Eliminate Delays. A centralized view of who is working on a document means you now know who is struggling. And you can quickly reach-out to support team members who may need assistance, and avoid disrupting the next deadline.

Don’t risk missed deadlines, poor quality issues and lousy win rates. Develop responsible, can-do proposal leaders with real-time visibility into your process, progress and status.

Here are three tactics for updating your approach, saving time and bidding more winning bids and proposals. 

Accelerate Content Creation

Co-authoring allows you to create large, complex, business-critical documents much faster. This means you will be able to complete each proposal well before the deadline and have time to invest in other proposals.  

  • Co-authoring accelerates content creation. Instead of searching through a never-ending cascade of files for something to reuse, relevant content is just a few click away. Now your contributors are investing their time in improving and tailoring content to engage evaluators.  
  • It eliminates the time spent waiting to write. Instead, your contributors are writing together in the same document at the same time. Now they can also see what other contributors are writing real-time, and invest their time in connecting common strategy themes that influence decision makers.  
  • It keeps your team and their tasks in sync and on track. By working together, tasks are centralized, so contributors consistently know what tasks to work on, and when they’re due. This reduces coordination effort and bottlenecks while accelerating your milestones.  

“Real-time co-writing is a huge time saver,” says Cheryl Smith, an APMP-NCA Board Member with 20+ years of experience in proposal and knowledge management. “Especially when you consider that teams are billable  experts and executives whose time is definitely at a premium.”

Invest Time in What Matters Most 

Each week, your team spends at least three to four hours just fixing formatting, layout, and numbering. This kind of activity slows you down, delays your progress, and seriously impacts your business’s ability to deliver. 

A secure, customized layout layer eliminates this problem. By automatically formatting and numbering your proposal for you, regardless of document size, your proposal is always ready for action. 

  • A layout layer eliminates the wait to review. Whatever content your contributors paste in or write, is automatically formatted to your established layout. Instead of waiting for reformatting to review, your proposal is automatically formatted to executive expectations and ready to go. And your reviewers have more time to invest in feedback that strengthens your proposal. 
  • It focuses contributor time on content. Instead of changing fonts, indenting paragraphs, and adding bullets and headings, they are using their mental bandwidth to focus on the task at hand; writing compliant, compelling content.
  • It accelerates proposal delivery. When it’s time to deliver your proposal, your proposal is automatically formatted and ready for delivery. No need to touch every page, paragraph, sentence and word. Now your team has more bandwidth for more proposals with the same resources. 

“That’s valuable time your team can invest in thinking and reviewing, and working to advance strategy and proposal maturity and quality,” says Smith.

Help Evaluators Choose You

Your proposal is fundamentally a sales document. Its purpose is to persuade decision makers and move the sales process to closure in your favor. If your proposal doesn’t lead to an agreement to do work together, your proposal has failed. 

How do you persuade evaluators over to your line of reasoning, that you are the best solution to the problem?  

“I like to picture a proposal as a bridge,” says Smith. “Your prospect is standing on this side of the bridge, in today’s reality, with their pains and needs. And over there, on the other side of the bridge, is their future reality, the goals they want to achieve. When your proposal walks evaluators across that bridge, section by section, you earn their support, and their vote.”

The time you need to build that compelling bridge is short. By adopting these three tactics, you save the time you need to invest in how to win, instead of how to deliver. It’s a strategic decision, one designed to optimize your resources, empower your team, and ultimately generate more revenue.


Related article: A Conversation with Proposal Professional: Neal Levene

Ebook collaboration is the new competitive advantage

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Jeremy Widener

Jeremy have 11 years of experience in the solution software space ranging from customer success to sales to consulting. I believe strongly in relationship building and working with customers as partners. Optimizing use of solution software and leveraging success with the relationship to build growth and expand value.

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