Choosing the correct voice in your proposal is important and deeply affects the reviewers confidence in your ability to deliver on your word. There are two main voices you may choose for your proposal, active and passive, and you may not even realize you have chosen the later until it is too late. A voice is different from the tone of your proposal which we have covered before but may be a good time to brush up on.
“On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me 11 assembled sections, 10 document types, 9 integrated systems, 8 peers reviewing, 7 ways to collaborate, 6 skilled reviewers, 5 approvers approving, 4 zoomable images, 3 key texts, 2 dashboard reports and one project in XaitPorter”
We love the music of 11 pipers piping during the holidays. But we understand if you prefer a quiet space when assembling dozens of contributions from various stakeholders to produce complex documents for time-sensitive projects.
Typically, the least favorite task during production of complex documents is assembling sections from multiple contributors – especially if you have external or third-party writers. Have you ever received sections for a document in different fonts and layouts? And if you have multiple parties collaborating together on a large proposal or tender, brand consistency can be a nightmare. The result: a final proposal which looks like a “cut-and-paste” from five different organizations.
The solution: XaitPorter’s easy-to-use editing tools enable you to apply unified rules so you can quickly assemble each section – ensuring consistency in layout, formatting, labeling and numbering. You can maintain brand integrity and design across the entire document or apply different branding conventions to sections contributed by third parties. Finally, document assembly can be done in parallel, increasing team efficiency and reducing delivery time for your proposal or tender – for some projects by over 70%.
XaitPorter gives the gift of quicker assembly time, better brand consistency and less overall stress in managing your project – so turn up the volume on the Christmas music and enjoy those 11 pipers piping.
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“On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 10 document types, 9 integrated systems, 8 peers reviewing, 7 ways to collaborate, 6 skilled reviewers, 5 approvers approving, 4 zoomable images, 3 key texts, 2 dashboard reports and one project in XaitPorter”
Those 10 lords a-leaping probably are pretty energetic and agile. However, I would place a wager that most bid and project managers would prefer instead an agile, robust platform which is able to produce ten – or better, 100 – different types of documents.
Many companies struggle with too many platforms for producing documents – requiring different systems for creating proposals, another one for contracts, a third for marketing collateral, and so on. Other collaboration and production platforms are limited to bare-bones functionality: they have a “do it yourself” approach and typically require add-on apps or software plug-ins. And forget about integration to CRM systems or other databases – it’s just too complex.
Our philosophy is to allow our customers to create document types or templates directly within XaitPorter and automate as much of the production process as possible. Therefore, once you create a template for your first proposal, annual report or application, the template is immediately available for the next project. And an added benefit for IT and business: XaitPorter can produce documents for any department in your organization – commercial, executive, marketing, contracts, finance, services, HR.
With thousands of users across the globe, we don’t really know exactly HOW many types of documents our customers are producing in their XaitPorter platform. But here is a (short) list of the top 10, and a longer list with many more.
- Sales Proposals
- Tender and Bid Responses
- Annual and Quarterly Reports
- Corporate Sustainability Reports
- Licensing Applications
- Geographical Studies
- Ship Design Specifications
- Regulatory Manuals and Documentation
- Product Manuals and Brochures
And also Financial reports, Marketing Reports, Research Trials and Reports, Sales Specifications, Clinical Research Papers, ISO Documentation, Ship Stability Books, FEED Agreements and ITTs, Fact Sheets, Research Grant Applications, IPO Offerings, Sales Reports, Stakeholder Reports, White Papers and many more…
And although we haven’t seen it yet, we guess you could also create a musical arrangement in XaitPorter for those 10 lords.
“On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 8 peers reviewing, 7 ways to collaborate, 6 skilled reviewers, 5 approvers approving, 4 zoomable images, 3 key texts, 2 dashboard reports and one project in XaitPorter”
For document production projects, we really don’t need 8 maids a-milking (unless you need subject matter expertise with a proposal for a dairy farm). But the value of subject matter expertise – from peers, partners or other third-party experts – should not be underestimated, as it can transform a good proposal, tender or application into a winning one.
Project and bid managers often need to manage contributions from subject matter experts outside of the bid team or external to your company, such as:
- Technical or product experts to provide design, system or market expertise
- Scientific or experts to advise on data, evidence or trends
- Commercial experts to deliver pricing models, contract structures or terms
These experts could be regular contributors to multiple proposals, or they could be providing one-off expertise for a specific project. In either situation, there may be little time to train them on processes or platforms – and often corporate security rules restrict system access to external parties.
XaitPorter solves this problem by enabling access-based user rights, providing a structured collaboration process and delivering an easy-to-use, intuitive platform for creating and sharing information. Peers and external contributors can write, review and approve content in their section of responsibility directly in the XaitPorter project. Or, they can receive notifications and comments about their contribution via email, then review and respond accordingly. For partner or external expert contributions, XaitPorter’s layout tools make it easy to reformat text and ensure design consistency throughout the document.
It can be a challenge to bring all of this expertise together. But working with easy-to-use document production tools enables your contributors to focus on the content, not the system or process. The outcome: your proposal captures your team dedication and hard work; your great product, services or solution; and trusted subject matter expertise. And this will help you win bids and delight customers.
So as a gift for the 12 Days of Christmas? We’ll take 8 expert peer reviews or trusted partner contributions every day of the year.
“On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me 7 ways to collaborate, 6 skilled reviewers, 5 approvers approving, 4 zoomable images, 3 key texts, 2 dashboard reports and one project in XaitPorter”
Although 7 swans a-swimming are beautiful, we have an alternative: 7 highly effective ways to collaborate with your team on complex projects for business-critical documents.
When you are working in a large project team on a complex proposal or critical document, do you find yourself swimming (like those 7 swans!) in a pool of emails, voicemails, text messages and chats? That email you received this morning is quickly obsolete when you receive a new chat in WhatsApp or Slack. Then your supervisor leaves an urgent voicemail which is entirely different from the email or message.
Unstructured process for collaborating on complex projects can drive people crazy -problems include delays, duplicate work and conflicting information.
Typical issues include:
- Unstructured communication such as long email chains which are difficult to follow and action (and don’t get us started with messages sent “reply all”!)
- Managing security rights and access when working with confidential company or customer information
- Lack of document or system access for external stakeholders – such as contractors, suppliers, vendors and other third parties – who are working on the project
- Mistakes in routing information or assigning tasks to the wrong contributor
- Lack of context for edits and comments
- Travel or out of office delays – or simply forgetting to send a comment or note during the course of a busy day
At Xait, we have heard all of these challenges – and more – since we launched the first XaitPorter platform 15 years ago. So for the 7th day, we propose 7 solutions to improve collaboration…
7 Ways to Collaborate within XaitPorter:
- Project and Task Overviews provide real-time visibility into every project and task to which a contributor is assigned
- Role-defined collaboration enables contributors to collaborate based on user role or group membership for a specific section
- Email notifications outside of XaitPorter for users on the road or who are unable to log into the platform
- Interactive comments so contributors are able to read real-time feedback and respond quickly
- Access-based collaboration to enable authorized users to read or edit restricted or confidential information
- Transparent rules and processes for collaboration (e.g. time-based, workflow -based)
- Dynamic work groups and structured, secure processes for collaboration with external stakeholders – vendors, suppliers, customers and other third-party contributors
So you no longer need to drown in unstructured collaboration processes – get out of the pool and enjoy the swans.
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Learn more about how your company can improve document collaboration.Schedule Demo
“On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 6 skilled reviewers, 5 approvers approving, 4 zoomable images, 3 key texts, 2 dashboard reports and one project in XaitPorter”
We have already established our view on receiving birds as a gift, so no geese a-laying, please! However, we will gladly accept six skilled reviewers.
As you read in yesterday’s blog, reviewers are second in the document creation process – after writers, before approvers. Why is this role important? Consider the role of a reviewer in a large tender or proposal, where you will likely have multiple stakeholders for each section. A reviewer is often one of your colleagues – either based locally or in a remote office. However, XaitPorter also enables external, third-party contributors to have secure, rights- or role-based access to your project or document.
Reviewers contribute in a number of important ways, including:
- Providing subject matter expertise for critical content (e.g. technical, scientific, financial)
- Reviewing content for accuracy, relevance and context
- Correcting grammar or terminology
- Translating (e.g. via an external translation agency) or editing translated text
- Confirming facts, historical information and data
- Adding a customer-focused perspective or industry viewpoint
- Validating your offer or price
XaitPorter enables all contributors to work simultaneously and collaborate in parallel: for example, when a reviewer adds an inline comment to a section, a writer or another contributor can immediately take action.
Reviewers will add inline comments to their section of responsibility, such as:
“Please change the wording to….”
“This translation should read instead…..”
“Could you please clarify the meaning and intent of the following phrase….”
“Please delete this paragraph and replace with….”
…and any number of other editorial comments and suggestions.
What is the value of delivering a high-quality, error-free proposal or annual report which includes contributions from multiple expert reviewers? Expertly-produced documents convey a higher level of authority and integrity than documents which contain grammar or spelling mistakes, factual errors, pricing discrepancies or other faults. For important proposals, tenders or reports, those six reviewers could indeed be priceless.
“On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 5 approvers approving, 4 zoomable images, 3 key texts, 2 dashboard reports and one project in XaitPorter”
You might wish instead for the traditional gift of 5 gold rings – after all, who wouldn’t want gold? But you may discover that 5 approvers approving is more valuable than rings when producing business-critical documents.
Consider the potential complexity of managing the approval process when working on a large proposal or tender. Decisions on the final product or technology design, service guarantees or warranties, delivery schedules and pricing need to be managed in parallel, especially when different departments – like R&D, finance, sales and service – own responsibility and sign-off for their respective contributions to the tender. Final approval is often the responsibility of a busy department head or senior executive who may be hard to reach at short notice during a timeline crunch. In surveys with bid and project managers, over 70% say that managing the approval process is the most stressful part of a project or bid.
How can five approvers prevent that stress-induced gray hair when managing a critical project? By increasing efficiency, control and oversight of the approval process. This helps you and your team to overcome hurdles in receiving timely approvals and meeting critical deadlines.
How does this work within a project? When creating a project or document in XaitPorter, you can set up multiple sections and sub-sections and assign writers, reviewers and approvers for each section. Throughout the document production process, all contributors are able to work in parallel within their respective domains. Notifications are sent from XaitPorter for each step of the process, keeping contributors informed of tasks and due dates.
Once the writer and reviewer have both completed their assignments, the approver has final authorization to determine if that section is completed. The approver can add comments, request clarification on content or send it back for more writing or editing. The approver can also reject the section and post the reason why. Once the approver is satisfied, he or she marks the section as complete. All authorized contributors can view the status of each section directly in XaitPorter – increasing transparency with the process and making the project easier to manage. And best of all – no more gray hairs and sleepless nights.
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“On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 4 zoomable images, 3 key texts, 2 dashboard reports and a project in XaitPorter”
Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and partridge in a pear tree? Hopefully, whoever receives these gifts is a true bird lover. Here at Xait, we offer instead the gift of great layout tools for your documents in the form of zoomable images to make your business-critical documents stand out from the crowd.
How do you bring life to your documents? Through images and other visuals. Savvy professionals know that well-placed images increase appeal and integrity. What is the business value of – for example – one company’s proposal, annual report or business prospectus being more reassuring and readable than that of another company? Only the difference between winning a bid, attracting investors or generating sustainable value for your business.
The days are over when you have to take a screenshot of an excel sheet or word image and then import it to a document. Usually the outcome was a low-quality image – grainy, blurry and non-readable.
In XaitPorter, you have the ability to re-use images across multiple documents. Another key feature is version control: this prevents contributors from using outdated figures and images, keeping the integrity of the version at all times. You also can restrict access to images based on role. For example, if you upload a financial image which has restricted access, you can lock down the image so only authorized readers will have access to use it.
How can you use vectorized images in XaitPorter? You can place zoomable images securely and easily into a document. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then XaitPorter ‘s images will help you bring value to your documents.
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“On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 3 key texts, 2 dashboard reports and one project in XaitPorter”
We can take the traditional route of giving three French hens or – as you might have started to guess – we don’t want more birds! I’d rather have three key texts. Perhaps you might be wondering, “what exactly is key text?”
In the context of document production, Key Text refers to text that is used to highlight important information in a document. The key text will typically be larger, highlighted or bold text and located in the left or right margin (separated from the body text). It serves as a visual representation to focus the reader’s attention on a critical piece of information that might get lost within a large body paragraph.
So why is this an important feature when creating business-critical documents? Because of a reader’s behavior when reviewing a document: over 90% will read the key text first when they focus on a page. We have found the use and impact of key text to be so important that we have built easy-to-use functionality so you can add key texts directly in XaitPorter.
With typical document production software, adding key text can be an absolute nightmare. And that’s not considering the difficulty of using key text and images together – all of which have to be re-sized and scaled to fit into the new adjusted column space. We have seen and heard from our clients just how difficult adding key text can be for them, so we wanted to ensure that XaitPorter made the process easier and quicker.
Have you ever been frustrated by formatting issues when working with key text and images? That’s the reason why our Day 3 gift to you is, in fact, the gift of time.
“On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 2 dashboard reports and one project in XaitPorter”
What project data and information can you view in your dashboard reports?
Overall project overview – including project timelines and progress and
Detailed data and information – including resource allocation; comments and edits; approvals and workflows
The dashboard will typically be the first screen you see when you log into the XaitPorter platform (unless you are logging directly into a specific project – remember the first day ?)
You can think of the Dashboard as the command center for your overall administrative and reporting tasks. You also have the ability to select which reports you would like to see in your dashboard – as well as deciding where those reports should display – by simply dragging and dropping them into your preferred position. You can also adjust the size of the reports by simply dragging them to different columns. For example, if you have three reports in one column, each will be 1/3 height; but if you have one report in a column by itself, the report will expand to make use of the full column height. It’s super easy for your entire project team to use and customize.
This customization allows you to optimize your work space and tailor XaitPorter to your needs – saving you and your team valuable time by having your most important information available at a glance. Here is a little secret as well: you can have many more than two dashboard reports.
Dashboards give you better control and real-time visibility of your project – and this is your gift for Day 2. Wait until you see what we have for tomorrow…
‘Tis the season for Christmas trees, holiday decorations and the spirit of giving!
Here at the Xait offices in Norway, the snow is starting to fall, and Christmas carols are in the air. And our Xait team took a break from waxing our skis and polishing our skates so we could share with you our Top 12 Tips to help you efficiently create, edit, produce and publish high-quality documents for your business-critical projects.
In the spirit of the season, we are following the theme of the “12 Days of Christmas”, sharing a helpful tip for each working day as we count down to Christmas.
So whether you are working on a winning proposal, creating a top-quality annual report, preparing a license application or planning a project, read on to discover useful hints and smart tips to help you and your team improve efficiency, save time and produce great documents.
The First Day: A New Business-Critical Project
“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a new business-critical project in XaitPorter”
So, what is a project in XaitPorter? Well a project can be many things but first and foremost, a project is the foundation of XaitPorter. This is where you will create and edit documents, control access rights and share information with your team – a project is the place in XaitPorter where you live and communicate. And why is this our gift to you on the first day of Christmas? Business-critical projects – like a proposal for an important client, a bid response for a multi-$$ project or your company’s annual report – are the lifeblood of your company. Your team spends hours of time, energy and effort on creating, editing and producing important documents, and XaitPorter helps you manage your projects as efficiently and securely as you would your most valuable assets – which indeed is what they are.
A project in XaitPorter can be a collection of documents such as proposals, financial reports or even ship design documents. Or you can also use a project to create a single document with many sections and subsections, each with their own writer, reviewer and approver. The project is the command center for your creative endeavors while the Dashboard is the command center for your administrative and reporting functions (hint: stay tuned for more dashboard talk in the next blog).
Happy holidays, and we hope you enjoyed your first day. And a business-critical project is better than a partridge in a pear tree anyway.
The 1-day conference consists of two lectures and workshops streams with technical and practical contributions from industry, academia, associations and consultants. The 3B Conference is THE Conference and professional networking platform, which brings together the three themes of Business Development, B2B sales and bid management.
Xait’s Kris Saether will attend the AIIM Forum UK on June 22, 2016.
The AIIM Forum UK is a FREE independent event brought to you by AIIM International, to deliver thought leadership, market insights and expert advice through a one-day program of educational seminars and a major showcase of the latest information management innovations.
For more information please visit http://www.aiim.org/Events
In our first article of this series we discussed the importance of making your bid or proposal more personalized to make it effective. So having created something that is truly unique and client focused we now need to look at how else we can ensure a winning submission.
Cornerstone number 2 – Make it collaborative
It’s amazing how many people we come across who try to avoid going back to documents they’ve sent out, for fear of spotting the errors and issues that made it into the final submission. They bury their heads in the sand, accepting that these lapses are unfortunate but part of the life of someone who creates sales documents. This is a very understandable reaction, but the reality is that rather than avoiding this pain, they should be looking to their process and tools to find ways to ensure higher quality, fewer errors and more confidence in their output.
Welcome to Proposal May-hem, our annual tradition of posting anything and everything proposal related in the month of May to coincide with our attendance of the annual APMP (Association of Proposal Management Professionals) Bid and Proposal Conference. Lets kick this thing off and coincidentally our first topic will be “How to Prepare for a Kick-Off Meeting”
So an RFP has dropped into your world and you know your team is going to respond and planning must begin as soon as possible. Many people’s first thought is great, lets have a kick -off meeting and get the ball rolling but is that the right thing to do? Put simply, No. A kick off meeting is far too often a disorganized hodgepodge of ideas, differing opinions and unclear objectives which many times then requires a second “kick-off” meeting to actually get down to business. In the proposal world that is a waste of time that just won’t be tolerated. Lets now discuss a few key tasks that must be accomplished BEFORE the kick-off meeting.
As we attend the AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) Conference 2016 this week in New Orleans we are happy to announce our membership of AIIM. Xait is an innovative software company behind the software XaitPorter, which challenges the outdated methods of file based document collaboration. With some of the largest companies in the world using XaitPorter on a wide range of document types, Xait has been positioned as the leader in database driven document collaboration, co-authoring, and information management and delivery.
Number 1 – Make it personal.
“The quality of a proposal is indicative of a company’s desire for my business”
These were the words of a CEO when questioned about the importance of a proposal within the sales process, and perfectly sum up just how vital these documents are to a winning campaign.
So the question is; how often does a proposal or bid document leave your building that you can hand on heart say truly reflects just how determined you are to win the deal?
Xait’s Chief Commercial Officer Kris Saether has been invited to lead a round table discussion at the upcoming AIIM 2016 conference. Kris’ round table discussion titled, “Are files going the way of the Dodo?” will focus on the idea of database solutions replacing a typical file based solution. A brief synopsis is below.
As we prepare to attend South by Southwest (SXSW) we begin to think about the evolution of document collaboration. How did XaitPorter come to be at the forefront of database driven document collaboration? Lets take a look back in time…