Podcast - The Xait Factor episode 11 is out!

Podcast - The Xait Factor episode 11 is out!

Trine Lise Gjelstad
17. Sep 2021 | 31 min read

Podcast - The Xait Factor episode 11 is out!

Cheryl Smith, Customer Success Manager at Xait, and Travis Baldwin, Business Development Manager at Xait, discuss the recent acquisition of Privia, a worldwide provider of capture and proposal management-specific solutions to the government contractor market. This is Xait's second acquisition in the last seven months and we explore the advantages and synergies of the combined solutions and how proposal managers can benefit from improved co-authoring, workflow and content agility. Find out more at Xait.com. 


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Host, Kevin Craine Brought to you by Xait.

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Welcome to The Xait Factor! This is the show that explores the future of collaboration, today...and how coauthoring and team collaboration are essential skills for every 21st century enterprise.

 

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Below is a direct transcription of the episode, errors might occur and we encourage you to listen to the episode for the full Xait Factor experience.

Kevin Craine
Welcome back to The Xait Factor. I'm Kevin Craine coming to you for Xait. And today, we're joined by two great guests. Cheryl Smith is with customer success at Xait. And Travis Baldwin is the business development manager at Xait. And we're here talking about some exciting news. Now, Travis, last month, Xait acquired Privia, a worldwide provider of capture and proposal management solutions to the government contractor market. And this is Xait's second acquisition in the last seven months or so. Can you tell us a little bit more about this partnership? And why did it make sense for Xait to bring Privia on board?

Travis Baldwin
Absolutely, , it is the second acquisition, obviously, we've got a lot of moving parts this year, and a lot of growth targeted, which is exciting. But as far as why the fit, Xait has always been a thought leader in our product, doing things very differently. But we have also been Norwegian based and European focused. So the vast majority of our client base and our market share has come from either global companies or European focus companies. So we do have a lot of US operations. But getting into the US government contracting space was a bit challenging for us due to our Norwegian hosting. So there's quite a few things about Privia that made them quite attractive to partner with Xait and kind of bring those two entities together. It already was a very solid package for what they were doing. They've been helping government contractors and other businesses and other industries for well over two decades with a proven track record of success, a lot of credibility, their customers trust them to provide a valuable product. And they do provide a valuable product. But there's some value add that XaitPorter has, in addition to what Privia offers that were some gaps that the market needs today that Privia didn't offer. So we knew with their infiltration of the government space and their saturation in the US market that coming on and partnering together and bringing those two entities together, would allow us to go after us infiltration, which is really a strategic objective of ours over the coming years to really get a heavier set, but more more market share in the US.

And on top of that, we also know that XaitPorter can provide a significant value add to those clients. So we knew that if we can get them together and show them the value of XaitPorter that getting them on to that new platform and seeing the value out there would be significant for them. So we saw it kind of as a two fold both is a quick way to get market share and get some more recognition in the US market. But also to bring two strong entities together some great team members on the previous team to add to ours as well and solidify that in the market and just expand our operations and our efforts here in the US and throughout the Americas.

Kevin Craine
Now Cheryl, you are an experienced proposal management professional. You were previously the marketing director for privia. And now you're with customer success at Xait. From your perspective, what are the major differences between the two solutions?

Cheryl Smith
The both solutions provide secure collaboration. And teams use that to build large, complex proposals. The difference boils down to just how much better XaitPorter is at supporting that collaboration and saving that proposal time.

For example, both have reviews real time reviews, but XaitPorter brings in real time writing. And that is a huge time saver, especially when you consider that teams are comprised of billable experts and executives, whose time is definitely at a premium. Both systems have notifications. But XaitPorter brings in this command center dashboard where those notifications, everything that's happening with your process and your content is being delivered real time to this dashboard. So the proposal manager has a finger on the pulse of what's happening no matter where her team lives. Just those two differences alone are a huge time saver time the team can invest in reviews to advance proposal, maturity, and time the teams can use to write to advance proposal quality.

Kevin Craine
Those qualities seems to me are essential today as things are moving so much more quickly. The notifications and sort of the workflow aspects of it. Do you feel that's where the opportunities are for Privia customers that are coming unboard now?

Cheryl Smith
Definitely it's everyone wants to save time and be more efficient in their proposal efforts, they want to be able to bid more when more grow XaitPorter is giving you that additional time savings, but without losing control. So co-authoring, obviously huge time saver gone is the check in and checkout process gone is the waiting to write just because someone else locked the file. Before you did, everyone is writing and reviewing in the same document, there is a single source of truth. And version control remains automatic. That means less time waiting more time working. But at the same time that control the proposal manager needs through that dashboard to shepherd their team through the process and across the deadline. They've also solved the content library challenge. Everyone has a content library, it helps you get to your first draft faster and easier. But very few teams have the luxury of a Content Manager introducing metadata, automation, expiration dates. Now proposal teams can actually establish a knowledge network, for example, they can have a network of project managers, and when their past performance expires in the library, they can be automatically notified to update it. And that's going to keep that really critical content library of answers fresh and viable for the team.

Kevin Craine
Let's explore how that all works. But one of the major differences structurally between Xait and Privia is that Xait is a database co-authoring solution, whereas Privia is file based, can you explain the differences?

Travis Baldwin
Certainly, I guess to kind of look at that you're dealing with a difference between a serial process or a parallel process. So what I mean by that is a file is a serial process, by its very nature, it's a one off, you can only have one version of a file going at a time. Or if you have two people working on it, it's two different files that have to be merged correlated together. And with a database, which is why it's leveraged by CRM, crps, and so many other technical solutions is because you can work in in real time and that data, those cells of information can easily be shared and referenced by multiple departments, multiple people in real time, that's something you just can't get with a file. So to kind of put that into an analogy form, you know, from any proposal that comes across, you get an RFP, and you've got that deadline set, and it becomes a race right from that initial goto meeting of Yeah, we're gonna go for this, the clock starts ticking and it's a race to the deadline to do everything you need to do to develop that document, write it, review it, approve it, fix the formatting, the numbering, the structures, the aesthetics, making sure it hits, that you're compliant with what's required. And hopefully get it out the door and time before everybody's up 20 hours straight, and try to get it through and done. So with the serial process with a file based approach, it's a lot like riding a bicycle, you typically obviously, outside of a bike in tandem, you can only have one person on a bike at a time. And it requires a lot of manual effort. you're pedaling and pedaling and pedaling to win that race is true working with any files due to Microsoft Word or any other word writing tool. There's a lot of manual effort fixing the formatting, fixing the numbering, correlating things together, fixing the formatting as it goes through the check in checkout process, the lack of visibility, etc. So with that race, it's like having that individual on that bike. You know, chugging away writing their content, and then they have to hop off and it becomes a tandem race as the next person goes looking for where is the bike, same thing with file management version control issues you run into is this diversion is this diversion, okay, there's my bike, they hop on, they start riding away, and it's one off one off one off, and you're going through it. The difference with the parallel process is that it's like running that same race, but putting the entire team on a bus, the buses handling the light work, you're not out there pedaling away, you're not dealing with the formatting, the aesthetics, the numbering, all that's automated for you. There is no version control, because you're not working with files, you're simply updating cells of the database and it's updating in real time. It's always visible. Everybody's working in the same document, as Cheryl mentioned earlier. So what you find is obviously a bus is going to win that race even if your laps Armstrong, you know, pedaling away on that bike, the bus is still gonna win because it's faster. But on top of that your team is worried less about the pedaling and less about the formatting of the numbering. They're strictly focused, collaborating, talking, discussing in real time on the content, the most important part of that document. They're able to go through review tight cycles in real time, they're able to kick out those parts of each individual component is ready. So what happens is not only do you arrive at that deadline sooner, but with less effort and more time to focus on the most important parts of it.

Kevin Craine
Cheryl, you mentioned before our interview today that you've not always been a big fan of co-authoring. But with the pressure for many users to migrate to SharePoint, it's got you thinking differently. And you've become a fan of the Xait co-authoring approach. Can you tell us more?

Cheryl Smith
You know, co-authoring always seemed like a really great perk for the team. For the writers. For the reviewers, there's no waiting, they can work on their own schedule. For Proposal managers, it's always been a bit of a nightmare. There are just so many moving parts and so much time consumed between pens down and reviews, because the team has to sort of make sense of what happened in that co authoring environment, and bring it into a condition that an executive actually wants to spend time reviewing and commenting on. And that's the, that's the balance that I've seen exci Porter bring to the situation through that, that dashboard. So what I say is, if you feel you've lost control, with SharePoint co authoring, you're going to find that control that you need over your content and your process and your team in XaitPorter.

Kevin Craine
You are listening to The Xait Factor. We're here with Cheryl Smith, customer success at Xait and Travis Baldwin, business development manager at Xait. last month Xait acquired privia, a worldwide provider of capture and proposal management solutions for the government contractor market. And we're here talking about that acquisition, the benefits and the advantages. And Cheryl, I want to get to a question for Travis here in a moment. But before I do, I want to ask you just a little bit more about privia. You love your previous customers, and you're working with many of them to convert to the new XaitPorter platform. What are your customers excited about? And what are they hesitant about when it comes to making the move over to XaitPorter,

Cheryl Smith
They've been asking for co-authoring for a while now. So they're very excited about that opportunity and the time saving and the focus on quality they're going to get at the same time, they are happy that something's remained the same with the transition. role based permissions access for external partners, the client favorite which is our reviewing and commenting module, they are concerned about change and why wouldn't they be you know, they're they're busy professionals in very high pressure roles. But as they're seeing the benefits, that's energizing that you talk to the people at Xait. And Xait has migrated Privia clients in the past, they know where the clients are coming from day to day. And as they're talking to those people and seeing how they're handling the collaboration, how they're approaching the transition. The feedback has been loud and clear as as really solid, you know, as we take this next leg of our journey together.

Kevin Craine
Now Travis, one really exciting feature that is available in the XaitPorter platform is RFP shredding. Can you explain how that works? Certainly. Um,

Travis Baldwin
So one of the aspects of that, and there's several benefits to it is breaking apart that RFP into manageable components. As everybody knows, in the proposal world, when you get these amounts of tenders and proposals in the only way to disperse that amongst team members, especially when you're dealing with files is to break those into digestible file components to spread them out to the team members to work in their kind of sections or in the areas of their expertise. But get those areas done, bring them back together and correlate that larger document. But of course with that it starts at version control nightmare to becomes that visibility gap of not being able to see what's happening, what's going on throughout the different areas of it where it stands. And then oftentimes as it's coming back together and correlating or fixing formatting, trying to go through a review process, shinies methodology, whatever your particular use case may be, and those multiple iterations and cycles there. So the first pass of Porter is really going to bring in that document and each and every one of those sections and subsections become their own unique cells in the database. So the benefit of that is that it provides that same use case of what we just did. Right where you can assign workflows to those individual sections and sub sections based on subject matter experts or team members bandwidth, whatever you might need for those particular scenarios. But you're not dealing with the version control, as we talked about earlier, there's no files, you're not having stacks and stacks and multiple iterations coming back, you're not having to correlate them. And you're also always working in one live version of that document. So if you're trying to check, you know, tone that's being used, or reference another section being done your APR in real time to see how those areas are coming along what team members are adding in what you might need to reference and carryover. So it allows for that continuity and messaging keeps everybody on the same page and provides full visibility, not only to the writers, but to the project manager, as Cheryl was just talking about earlier. So that aspect alone is already very beneficial. The next iteration of that really is that RFP shredder to come in and help companies save time and resources. We all have those moments where there's that really big tender come in for that opportunity, like, oh, we'd love to have that business. But you have to take that step back and ask, are we a good fit? Should we put our resources into this to go after this? Does this make sense financially, for us to invest the time and energy in something that we're not really well aligned for, or the likelihood of us winning may not be there. So that the next stage of this is having that shredder capability to set those protocols in place? To do a quick analysis on that RFP based on parameters that you set within your metrics of success? So like go no go medium becomes a lot easier, it reduces the time a to analyze the document to see how well aligned Are we on this opportunity? Are we at 5% match are we 20% match. So quickly, you can decide we're going to go after this or not without wasting too much of those resources, but also that next level of bringing it up to date, and then immediately putting it into work. And Cheryl, did you have anything you wanted to add to that?

Cheryl Smith
I've seen it I'm working with the with the team. So I'm helping outputs. And what it made me feel as a proposal manager is we invest so much time analyzing and interpreting an RFP in order to become this expert for the team. So there's a question about compliance, you know, this is who they turn to. And so I spent a lot of time printing and highlighting all the wills on shells, the analyzer is going to find those for me, it's gonna help me analyze and interpret that proposal better and faster. It's gonna make me a better compliance resource for my team. So in the middle of development, if suddenly there's a compliance question about two independent sections, the analyzer gives me a roadmap to help me manage those as quickly and as effortlessly as possible. So the team can get back to work. That's what I'm seeing. And and it's really it's kind of given me some goosebumps

Kevin Craine
They're game changers it sounds like in, in the business, I mean, you need the information, agility to respond quickly, but the thoughtfulness to respond correctly or perhaps, as Travis mentioned, maybe not at all. Now, Cheryl, there's this balance that seems to me between needing to be efficient, and perhaps leverage the content library in XaitPorter the templates to be agile, but yet you say that evaluators can spot boilerplate content a mile away, how can we use XaitPorter to avoid that yet still leverage the efficiencies of the content library?

Cheryl Smith
You know, it's it. I love boilerplate and reusable content. I always have it from my team. It, nobody wants to start from a blank page. Everybody wants to leverage the answers that have come before. It helps you focus your time on what unique questions are in the RFP. And the evaluator needs answers, right? They're scoring you against those answers. But the evaluator also wants reasons. And that is the persuasion component of the proposal writing process. That persuasion those reasons, come through your proposal through relatable context. I like to picture it as a bridge, you're building a bridge with your proposal. You're standing at the beginning of the bridge, today's reality, the pains they're experiencing. And over there on the other side is the future reality and the goals they want to achieve. If your proposal can walk that evaluator section by section using these contextual reasons to support the functionality of your product, you're going to help them cross that bridge and more easily imagine what will my day to day life. What will my business look like with this solution. You can't do that effectively when you're writing in a silo in A file based solution like privia, because everyone's in a silo, everyone's in their own documents, and you only see it come together and see that narrative if you've been able to achieve it, when you have these big bang review process. With co authoring with XaitPorter, there is no silo, everyone's working in the same document, I can see what Travis is writing. And I can figure out how to smooth that transition between the sections, he can see what proposal themes I'm using, and maybe he wants to tweak ease a little bit, you're not waiting until the review to figure those things out. You're not putting so much pressure on that review, in order to build that narrative. So use your boilerplate, tailor for context. But you're going to be able to do that far more efficiently and effectively, when you're in a co authoring environment. And if you can build that contextual narrative, then you're going to engage, excite, and keep the curiosity of your evaluators.

Kevin Craine
You know, Travis says Cheryl's talking I'm thinking, collaboration and remote work or work from home, the business world was already highly virtual. But now, more than ever, organizations are looking for ways to leverage remote work as a strength, and really use team collaboration as a competitive advantage moving forward. And seems to me one way to do that is through these real time workflow aspects of XaitPorter, like commenting and reviewing, for instance, do you feel that that plays out as a strength for Xait customers today?

Travis Baldwin
100% absolutely. There's a lot of moving parts with that, Kevin, you're right. Not only the Black Swan of COVID, on the world has disrupted things. But we even saw, as you mentioned, that migration to virtual workforces being more acceptable and more of a norm even prior to COVID. And I do believe we're going to continue to see that more and more As the World Turns in the future, because this is kind of forced us to see, it's still viable business can still go on, people can still be productive with the right employees, etc, these scenarios. But you get into a situation with files and share drives and firewalls and protection and security that are necessary, because obviously, you have sensitive information, you've got to be careful about who can see what access what, but it becomes very frustrating for virtual workers or remote workers trying to get in and go through that with content repositories and shared drives that may be blocked by firewalls, the constant updating of files, people not seeing that until that file has been shared and re uploaded to the shared drive. And you go back and look at the comments where people are trying to circumvent that with tons of emails and phone calls, all which lead to confusion and extra time off of target, a lack of notes or any of those conversations being ended those documents and those files, and misunderstandings, you know, they go and try and focus on the wrong paragraph or something because they weren't quite sure where you were going in your message. So there's a lot of moving parts there that are, frankly, just inherent with working with the file based solutions on the market today. And the beauty of Porter is that that database is going to smooth all of that out. The comments features, you know all the changes, you can track changes, you can see all that it has an internal messaging feature. So you're able to quickly share comments within the document within the section you can even flag it right where the issue or problem is, if there's a task or a change this collaborating and brainstorming, you can just leave comments pending let people to share ideas seamlessly without affecting the text and won't export out when you're producing. It's not about cleaning it up. You can even use hidden text, add comments to your your friends and you know team members and instructions for the project manager on what to do in a particular section. Again, you don't have to waste any time cleaning that up. It's not going to export when you push that file out. So there's all those time saving elements that are there. But it's also tracking everything from the moment somebody logs in their IP address, where they came from, what they looked at what they changed, all that is stored in the database and tied to that project. So it provides information governance as well. But exci Porter is also ISO 27001 certified, the most secure solution in the space. So the benefits of that is that some you're able to circumvent some of those firewall share drive issues and hurdles that a lot of companies are facing and rely upon the security of Porter to lock down that information. Because you can get very granular as far as who's even able to see certain things in the master repository or on individual documents all the way down to a subsection level. So if you have a certain part really one or two individuals in the whole company to have access to that or see it, you can make it worse visible to the rest of the teams. So there's a lot of control there that it allows for easy access. People can access it on phones, tablets, desktops, your local computer, it doesn't matter if you have internet accessibility, you can access Porter There was even a time I was flying back from Europe on a plane trying to get an apartment. done for a client, my computer ran out of juice, I didn't have the plug on my seat. So I pulled out my phone logged into the plains Wi Fi and I was sitting on my smartphone still typing away and do what I had to not ideal I get that certainly don't recommend it. But I was able to get it done. So some of our clients that are people boots on the ground doing facility management or going out and, and looking at refineries or the things or you know, looking at projects for construction developments, they're able to be out there with their phones, taking photographs, making notes, all that kind of stuff, the people at home office or other remote team members are seeing that in real time those pictures coming in the notes coming in, they can immediately get to work as sort of leveraging that into those documents. So it's instantaneous collaboration of the team globally.

Kevin Craine
The Xait Factor is brought to you by Xait visit xait.com. You have been listening to the Xait factor, we are talking with Travis Baldwin, and Cheryl Smith from Xait. We're talking about proposal management and XaitPorter. Now Cheryl and Travis, it's been great speaking with you today, we're almost out of time. But before I let you go, one last question, do you both? What should proposal managers and sales leaders be thinking about now, and strategizing for in order to be prepared for the world in five years time?

Travis Baldwin
Well, I think there's a couple elements there. Obviously, I could go for a while about that. But I'll keep it focused really on a key element that Cheryl brought up earlier with the boilerplate aspect and how easy that is to identify. We're seeing such a push in the solution space right now for AI solutions, and efficiencies and machine intervention and these things. They're wonderful. They're helpful. But as Cheryl pointed out, it misses a mark, because boilerplate does stand out the tonality the contextual response to the answer it fits in, it's answering the question, but it's not always quite there, it's you know, it's almost like a canned response from somebody that you, you get going by you just feel it's not there. And getting too reliant upon that and not leveraging your team to do what you're relying on them for. They're very intelligent people, very competent writers and project managers that are very skilled, and you're paying them for their thought leadership and their capabilities. So what you need to look at are tools that can arm them to function at their highest. As Benjamin Franklin always said, the greatest investment you can make is in the tools of your trade. So although the purpose of software solutions is not to replace the human element, it is to throttle their effectiveness and what they can do, how quickly they can get it done the quality of what they submit, to ultimately help you win more business in a very highly competitive world. Where it is crunch time by the deadlines, the quality does matter. And a simple little nuance can immediately move you from submission compliance. So there's a lot of moving parts, that would be a consideration. But I would definitely say take a look at the software solutions you're implementing and ask, are these going to help maximize the capabilities of my team, rather than just simply time saving? And moreover, can you find something that does both? That is the beauty of XaitPorter? Cheryl, something you'd like to add?

Cheryl Smith
I think five years time I'm afraid to say that the scramble and the last minute sprint will probably still be with us. It's something very ingrained in the culture of proposal management. I think the difference is going to be how proposal professionals respond to that. We're seeing it already in the industry, seasoned professionals are jumping ship and moving to another company why they want to see how the business manages their sales process. They want to see is the proposal an integral part of that process? Are they investing in the tools and the resources the team needs to manage and win without the scramble and the last minute sprint. It's a business transformation. It's really simple. And exci Porter is part of that transformation. The businesses that invest in the tools that eliminate that scramble and sprint they're going to attract the best talent, they are going to win and grow.

Kevin Craine
That is Cheryl Smith and Travis Baldwin from Xait find out more at Xait.com that's xait.com. Cheryl and Travis, thank you so much for being our guest today on The Xait Factor. Thank you for the scan. And that will do it for this episode of The Xait Factor. I'm Kevin crane coming to you for The Xait Factor. We'll talk to you next time. This has been The Xait Factor brought to you by Xait. Join us next time as we continue to explore the future of collaboration today, and how co authoring and team collaboration provide a distinct competitive advantage. We'll talk to you next time on The Xait Factor. Visit xait.com

Trine Lise Gjelstad

Trine Lise Gjelstad

Trine Lise is the Digital Marketing Specialist of Xait. She is responsible for elevating Xait`s presence in all marketing surfaces. She has experience from a hybrid agency and a definitive passion for technology! Trine Lise is also a market manager for a popular food festival in Stavanger, and was nominated for a local culture award last year. Her goal is to always convey good stories and create engaging content. When not at work you will find her either front row at a concert or hiking in the mountains.

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