What is Proposal Software?

Everything You Need to Know About Proposal Software

1. What is Proposal Software?

Creating top-notch proposals involves multiple contributors, tasks and workflows. It’s an inherently collaborative process – and it requires a genuinely collaborative software solution created explicitly for complex documents put together by dispersed teams.

Proposal software is a co-authoring and automation solution designed to help organizations collaboratively create and manage bids, proposals, financial reports, contracts and other business-critical documents.

Proposal software has become a must for companies that create and submit bids and proposals regularly.

 

Instead of Using Multiple Software Solutions, Use One

Many organizations use regular word processors (file-based solutions) to create proposals. The word processor was never intended to be a collaborative solution, however. Using a standard word processor, your team will lack control, work in silos, battle with formatting and end up with a large ‘Frankenstein’ document. 

You will struggle to meet your deadline, as the task of creating a proposal is simply too complicated.

 

Custom-Built to Handle Large, Complex Documents

Producing a bid or proposal in the “traditional” way, using file-based solutions, is neither efficient nor sustainable.

The core features of proposal software vary widely between systems. Many more straightforward solutions have only basic features, while enterprise systems are more powerful.

A professional enterprise proposal software solution includes all the typical features of a word processor but is purpose-built to enable textual collaboration and workflow, i.e., assigning responsibilities and deadlines to different writers. It automates the collective creation process and removes inefficiencies associated with the use of traditional word processors.

 

Single-Source Production

The best proposal software solutions are built on databases, which allows for a single source. With single-source publishing, different sub-sections of a document can be edited in parallel. Your entire team can work on the same document simultaneously while you have complete control of the process. Automatic formatting, layout and numbering ensure your writers focus solely on content.

Working in a database in a single document management system is much more efficient than working on files and makes it easier to give access to users than to manage users in multiple document systems.

In a nutshell: Proposal software is a co-authoring and automation solution that automates and streamlines the process of creating proposals, bids and other business-critical documents.

 

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2. Why Use Proposal Software?

Typically spanning hundreds of pages, bids and proposals, contracts, reports and studies are high-stakes, highly complex documents containing a wide variety of content from across the organization. Multiple contributors and stakeholders both within and outside the organization are part of the authoring process at the same time, often needing different access and permission levels.

Before being submitted, such documents go through a predefined process of reviewing and approval, where responsibility and control over the document is passed from one person to the next. Getting the content 100 percent right at the end is crucial.

 

Document Collaboration as a New Competitive Advantage

The document creation process is one of the most essential activities for any company today, and certainly one of the most extensive, touching nearly everything: internal communications, customer relations, sales, legal compliance, and much more.

In a fiercely competitive business environment, organizations must have the ability to seamlessly co-author content that is compelling, accurate and timely. Unfortunately, this is an uphill battle for many organizations, especially for large enterprises. Hampered by the shortcomings of on-premise, file-based document solutions, authors can spend more time managing the assembly of content versus actually contributing to the content.

Adding to the challenge, most teams today work remotely. Often mere hours before the deadline, authors and stakeholders struggle to assemble the correct content, elements, and drafts into a compelling final product.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Creating a professional business document can – and should – be an organizational skill that sets the company apart from its competition. Proposal software and co-authoring strategies provide a pathway to get your document creation process on track. This is especially important as businesses are now driven to rethink their workflow and business models.

To enable agile and streamlined document collaboration with all contributors, internally or externally, locally or globally, your organization needs to adopt a proposal software solution. 

 

Strategic Benefits of Using Proposal Software

 

From Fragmentation to Collaboration

Cloud-based proposal software allows you to create high-quality documents faster. Whether in the office, at home or on the other side of the world, every contributor has access to the same document and can edit it in real time.

Proposal software automates the collective creation process while removing the inefficiencies often associated with the use of traditional word processors, such as lack of visibility and control and difficulties maintaining consistent formatting and layout.

 

Empowers Your Team to Win More Business

Responding to RFPs can be time-consuming and stressful – but also risky. Using proposal software will help your proposal team work smarter as well as more efficiently and securely, bridging the gap between your business strategies and how your company executes in the field.

By optimizing collaboration and co-authoring throughout the entire life cycle of the document. proposal software becomes the sales enablement tool that allows you to respond quickly when opportunity knocks.

A good proposal software solution provides multiple contributors and stakeholders across departments, regions and companies with a platform to work together on the same document and manage complex documents in a way that ensures a high level of process quality, security and efficiency.

What’s more, modern-day proposal software comes with a range of different integrations that ensure your proposal is embedded into your sales process.

 

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3. Does Your Company Need Proposal Software?

What does your document creation process look like? 

  • Do you spend more time manually compiling multiple content pieces into one consistent document versus actually contributing to the content?
  • Do you repeatedly receive content at the very last minute and need to track people down to find out where their content is?
  • Do you typically spend a day and a half getting the formatting, graphics and layout right after team members have been working in silos, generating several different document versions?
  • Do you spend hour upon hour painstakingly going back and forth fixing issues before you can print?
  • Do you still struggle to find out which are the latest versions mere hours before the deadline?

If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then you have probably been looking for a better way for quite some time.

Your company needs to implement cloud-based proposal software.

 

A Smarter Approach

The challenges above are real-world issues faced by companies before they adopted the right proposal software solution. Their experiences were remarkably similar, across sectors: The old-school way of creating complex business documents, using file-based solutions and spreadsheets, made it very hard to stay in control all the way through. 

These companies needed a more automated and intelligent approach to document production to maintain a competitive edge in their markets. Completing complex documents was too cumbersome, and they couldn’t go on wasting man-hours and losing business.

 

Streamline Your Proposal Writing Process

When your proposal creation and management process looks like a hot mess, you put a lot of time and effort into it – without seeing the business results you need. What you really should be putting your time and effort into, is getting the content right. What if... 

 

  • Your process could become streamlined and efficient, allowing you to focus on what goes into the proposal?
  • Everyone logged on to one document? 
  • You and your team could access and work on different sections at the same time?
  • A workflow with tasks and deadlines was seamlessly integrated? 
  • You never mixed new and old versions, and always knew what was the latest and greatest? 

 

The key to creating a winning proposal – up to 70% faster – is to streamline the document creation and management processes from start to finish. Proposal software enables you to manage the process and create your document at the same time. 

The best proposal software solutions offer a built-in workflow, which lets you assign writers, reviewers, and approvers. Participants can then begin writing on their section from anywhere, at any time. 

 

  • Everyone will be aware of their tasks and deadlines.
  • Everyone will know exactly what has been completed at any given time. 
  • Formatting, layout and numbering are automatically taken care of, which means you have more time to focus on getting the content right.
  • You’ll get complete control and know exactly what’s going on throughout the process. 

 

Focus On What Brings Business Value 

Forward-leaning companies will ensure employees have robust, easy-to-use technology and automated processes to build a culture of good information management. 

For teams working on complex, time-sensitive projects, this helps them not get stuck in a quagmire of manual tasks and process inefficiencies. Instead, they can focus on the value of the content and its impact on the business.

Proposal software helps you secure the revenue that your company needs to stay competitive and survive in a cutthroat market.

 

Why Not Just Use Word?

As previously discussed, multiple contributors – often spread across time zones – constitute a challenge for many organizations creating bids and proposals. This is mainly because they use solutions where contributors need to check-in and check-out content (a file) or use email to distribute tasks and content.

When using a file-based solution, this is the only way to ensure that content and tasks can be distributed to team members. The Word document needs to be broken down into several sections and thereby several files. Different authors don’t work on the same document in real time, making it hard to keep track of the original content and manage the many different versions, perhaps saved in various locations. How do you know who has accessed the latest or one specific version and where each one is located?

Without real-time co-authoring, you end up with a check-in / check-out process – a serial process. This, in turn, leads to a fragmented way of working, making it difficult for project managers to keep track of progress. Valuable time is often consumed battling formatting and other mundane aspects and variables of content management that doesn’t actually contribute to the desired output.

File-driven document management systems are essentially for sharing and collation only. True collaborative solutions are built on databases and allow for different parts of a document to be created and edited in parallel. The latest versions of all sections and subsections are always available and accessible, and multiple writers can work on the same document at the same time. 

 

File-Based Solutions – Barriers to Collaborative, Secure Working

The tools that many businesses use to create high-volume, high-value business documents – i.e. traditional word processors and even cloud-based file-sharing systems – just aren’t fit for the purpose.

In an ebook from AIIM, Kevin Craine, an internationally respected technology analyst, observes that “there is a disconnect between the collaborative capabilities of today’s information management systems and the ability of organizations to capitalize on collaboration as a distinct competitive advantage.”

Moreover, sharing business-critical data via files poses a security risk. For instance, an email attachment might wreak havoc if sent to the wrong address. A simple spelling mistake or oversight can potentially result in sensitive information falling into the wrong hands, ie. competitors.

File-sharing can lead to expensive mistakes, and wasted business opportunities. If you and your document production team frequently find yourself lacking control, wasting time battling with versioning and formatting issues and ending up with a document cobbled together from different parts, you will struggle to meet deadlines. Consequently, your finished documents will fail to demonstrate your true level of business competency. 

Thus, you need a different, more strategic and secure approach to writing your proposals.

 

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Do You Need Document Collaboration Software?

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4. The Co-Authoring Advantage

Many popular content management systems are very good at providing a platform for file sharing, but they are not well-suited for the essential character of collaboration – co-authoring.

So, what is co-authoring exactly, and why is it important for your proposal team?

Unlike file-sharing, co-authoring is a database-driven approach to standardize and reuse content and work more efficiently while producing the final product.

 

Ensuring True Collaboration

Many popular systems are very good at providing a platform for file-sharing or video conferencing, but they are not well-suited for the task of co-authoring. The challenge is not just assembling data and teams; but also the ability to effectively output information in highly polished, high-impact documents. 

The process involves a wide variety of content and people from across the enterprise. And while it’s easy enough to share some files and schedule a Zoom call, team members commonly find that in reality, creating and co-authoring large, complex and highly polished documents can still be time-consuming and frustrating.

 

Co-Authoring Eliminates Siloed Content Repositories

In far too many organizations, proposal contributors must copy and paste information from where it is stored to where it is needed. Is the information accurate or the most up-to-date? Nobody knows for sure, but hopefully so!

Document co-authoring brings about a level of collaboration that makes a difference in team performance in fundamental ways. Teams work and collaborate on document creation from anywhere in the world, while having complete visibility and control over what changes are being made, what information is being used, and the layout, accuracy, and effectiveness of each element. 

Also, it provides the ability to assign tasks to team members and create workflows, merging collaboration capabilities with process management for maximum efficiency, effectiveness, and advantage.

 

Leveraging a Central Content Repository 

A key advantage of co-authoring is the use of a central content repository – a single place to manage all documents and content. This ensures that information is up-to-date and secure, and is reflected over the entire organization in real time. 

Anyone working on a document at any stage in the creation process will have access (if permission is granted) to all the tables, macros, and forms that are features of the final finished document. The same section can be used in multiple documents, and when updated, those changes are reflected across the full spectrum of enterprise content. Once updated, those changes go ‘live.’ 

Compared with common desktop tools and ad hoc workarounds, massive advantages in time, quality, and effort can be achieved with this approach. A central content repository maintains consistency and security across the enterprise while ensuring the kind of information agility and virtual collaboration that is needed to be most effective today.

 

Openness and Control

A mix of openness and control is crucial. While collaboration and teamwork are essential, so too is the need to control data privacy and security. Openness is the ability to share information and collaborate easily, and foster that interaction across the organization. Control is the ability to strictly limit and monitor access to private and sensitive information as needed, depending on context, content, and compliance demands.

For organizations in highly regulated and global operations, mission-critical documents like exploratory proposals, engineering contracts and regulatory submissions can grow to be hundreds or even thousands of pages. 

Openness is essential because content elements come from a variety of systems and sources. Control is vital because different contributors need different access and permission levels. Integration with other core systems is a boost to ensure that content is available, accurate, and easy to find when it’s needed most.

 

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Co-Authoring: The Future of Collaboration, Today

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5. Co-Authoring in Proposal Software

With a proposal software solution that enables co-authoring, the whole team works on the same document in real time – regardless of where they are based. This means that the content review and approval process can start in parallel with content creation.

Contributors, such as SMEs, can get feedback early in the process, instead of days or weeks after they have completed their content creation. Getting delayed feedback could lead to interruption of the process or create another process, delaying the proposal.

The contributors can also see how other team members have responded to a query, and then adjust their language accordingly. 

A real co-authoring solution also allows the business process owners to manage a corporate-wide process with complete insight into how the proposals are progressing. 

 

co-authoring in a proposal software

The above illustration shows the time savings that can be achieved with co-authoring. Enterprise co-authoring proposal software will give you a parallel proposal process, helping you produce business documents more efficiently, but more importantly, increase the quality of your content.

 

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6. Share Data Securely with Proposal Software

Data security is a higher priority than ever for businesses. How content is shared in a database is also key to security; if you have all your data in one central location, an obvious concern is controlling how that information is shared with users. 

Working with individual files in your bids and proposals can potentially put the security and integrity of your business-critical data at risk. Using database-driven co-authoring proposal software allows you to both minimize the risk of data leaks and maximize your productivity.

 

Business Collaboration with Files

In processes involving file-based systems, collaboration with email or file sharing apps can be exploited with bad actors ranging from the unwitting employee in your organization, to competitors in your market, to the cunning criminal.

Sending an attached file to the wrong address, perhaps simply by a spelling mistake, or sharing with an unauthorized recipient innocently or otherwise, can have catastrophic consequences. Once the file has left the security of your ecosystem, it is very difficult to retrieve or limit the exposure of your sensitive information to unknown parties.

Even with the best of intentions, expediency files are saved on unsecured devices, especially mobile appliances, which do not meet your infrastructure’s required IT security standards. 

Best-in-class, ISO 27001 certified proposal software offers permissions-based access: Users only see what they have been specifically given access to within the system, which makes for easy content control.

 

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7. Enabling Proposal Collaboration From Different Locations 

With more and more companies expanding geographically and doing business across far-flung global offices, shared workspaces, private homes, and hotel rooms, virtual teams have been on the rise for years.

As a result of COVID-19, even more of us have stepped into the new reality of virtual teams. Virtual teaming brings many benefits but also presents quite a few challenges and issues, including communicating effectively, managing people and different file versions, compiling multiple formats into one consistent document, and dealing with language and cultural differences as well as technology barriers.

The right proposal software solution enables multiple contributors in different locations to put together a complex and highly polished proposal, study or report.

 

The Challenge: Fragmented ‘Serial’ Document Creation

Say you have a billion-dollar bid where multiple contributors and stakeholders are part of the authoring process, and in various offices globally. Your center of excellence is in Houston; your project in Lagos; your assembly line in Mobile; and your key executive has just moved to Kuala Lumpur.

Suppose your team members are using standard document management and desktop publishing tools based on files. In that case, they are compelled to break the document down into multiple subdocuments, assigning responsibilities to each part. Key pieces of content are disjointedly scattered in multiple files and repositories across multiple systems and locations.

In a fragmented ‘serial’ document creation and authoring process like this, your contributors may check out a portion of the document, work offline, and upload again. This means that part of the content may not be available to other team members for maybe 24 hours.

Then, as the deadline draws nearer, the person responsible for compiling the document needs to collate various files, generate the document, and ensure that the formatting and layout are consistent.

At the end of the day, quality and efficiency are threatened by a lack of cohesive tools and co-authoring techniques.

 

The Solution: Database-Driven Proposal Software

The key to tackling the challenges of collaborating from different locations is leveraging enabling technology. Evidence suggests that if virtual teams are equipped with the best collaboration solutions available, they can outperform traditional teams that work in shared office spaces.

In a 2020 report from Deloitte, collaboration technology is seen as the eternal enabler in the new virtual reality: 

“70% of business professionals expect the use of online collaboration platforms to increase in the future. Virtual teams truly need to explore and incorporate technology into their ways of working to succeed.”

Database-driven proposal software solutions provide multiple contributors and stakeholders a unifying platform to co-author and manage complex documents in a way that ensures a high level of process quality, security and efficiency.

 

Always the Latest and Greatest

With a database-driven proposal software solution, you have real-time access to your team’s contributions, enabling your colleagues to see how you plan to solve the task, and adjust their language accordingly. Or they can provide feedback and guidance while you are working on the narrative, as opposed to later when you may have moved onto another task, thus disturbing two processes.

When your company combines single-source authoring with composite content management and master content management you can ensure that your virtual teams work with consistent content across all documents when their output is used across a wide range of documents, from tenders and proposals to studies and reports.

At any point in time, there is only one document, which is always the most recent version. The result is increased document control and integrity, at less cost.

 

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8. Enterprise Proposal Software Benefits at a Glance

The key benefits of using enterprise-grade proposal software revolve around operational efficiency, cost-reduction, security, and transparency and control.

Seamless Access from Anywhere

Imagine that you need to make some last-minute additions or changes to your document while you are out of the office. A good proposal solution is cloud-based, which means you can see and work on the latest version of your documents from anywhere in the world, and from any device. All you need is an Internet connection.

You can easily invite partners, subcontractors and consultants to work with you, making your efforts truly collaborative.

 

Complete Transparency

Since you have access to the latest version at all times, you can track the development of the document from day one. In addition, a good proposal solution gives you a complete audit trail.

 

Standardized Workflow

Workflows are essential to document collaboration. Through it, data will not leave your hands without approval, and incorrect data cannot be published. A workflow streamlines the process, by assigning tasks to each team member, sending them reminders and saving changes, comments and edits. Your document cannot be published or sent without going through each process in the workflow.

 

Streamlined Production Process

Creating, collaborating on, approving and distributing your documents in one user-friendly solution eliminates the need for complicated processes that depend on disparate systems.

Top-notch proposal proposal software allows you to select writers, reviewers and approvers, as well as set individual deadlines. The result is clearly defined responsibilities, and a streamlined process.

As a document team manager, you can track throughput of content, identify bottlenecks and see the progress of allocated tasks. This means you’re able to manage the whole document process more effectively and have complete deadline control.

 

No More Numbering and Formatting Hassles

In a good proposal solution, you work with set layout templates. You don’t need to spend any time on numbering, formatting or layout, as it is all taken care of automatically. Besides, your documents will always adhere to your corporate branding guidelines.

 

Quick and Easy Document Navigation

If you have ever tried to navigate a 1,000-page document, you know it’s a tedious and time-consuming task. In a user-friendly proposal solution, you navigate through your document using the automatically generated table of contents. Your document consists of several sections and subsections, and you can easily move from one to another.

 

Faster Document Production with Easy Content Search

Easily tracking down the right content when you need it is key to creating winning proposals quicker and more efficiently. Using proposal software custom-built for easy content search is a lifesaver, and a business winner. 

 

No Overwriting or Duplicating Work

When you work in a word processor, you risk overwriting and duplicating work. In a good proposal solution, your document is split into sections. When you work on a section, other users are not allowed to edit it. However, they will still be able to see the latest version of the document and its sections, as everything is updated in real time.

 

Easy Reuse of Information Eliminate Process Inefficiencies

Because a good proposal solution is built on a database, you can easily copy and reuse content, outlines and workflows in multiple documents. This can be an extreme time saver, improving your productivity many times over. 

 

No More Post-Its

In a good proposal solution, all your comments are stored in one place. You add and respond to comments directly in your workspace. When everyone is done with their edits, you can export the document as either a PDF or Word document. And from there you are ready to go!

 

Document Crashes are Prevented

Business documents typically consist of vast amounts of graphics and images. The bigger they are, the more unwieldy they become. What happens if your document crashes one hour before the deadline? This nightmare scenario has become reality in many businesses using ‘lightweight’ document management tools.

A heavy-duty cloud-based co-authoring solution is built to handle documents of any size and complexity, making document crashes a thing of the past.

 

Enhanced Compatibility

In today’s and tomorrow’s business environment, information exchange between already available technologies is essential. Thus, stand-alone products, lacking compatibility with other systems, will soon become obsolete.

Cloud-based proposal software can be easily integrated with other applications or software, including CRM (i.e. Salesforce), contract management, ERP or project systems.

This compatibility ensures that one central pool of data is used across the organization, making cloud-based proposal software an even smarter choice for your business.

 

A Foundation for Your Applications

A market-leading bid and proposal solution is also an Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS) solution, serving as a foundation for building and launching applications quickly and easily.

An aPaaS solution can be used as a platform for any document or information centric processes, just as Salesforce is to sales processes.

A key benefit of an aPaaS is the ability to run, develop and launch applications all from the same platform. This gives you better visibility into your applications and makes it much easier to maintain them, as opposed to using disparate systems.

 

Improved Proposal Response Time 

Top-notch proposal software is built for speed. Common to sales and business development, often speed to respond is a key factor of win rates and win values ratios. Quickly reusing data requires the ability to manage the expiration of content, so along with an integrated workflow, a good proposal software solution manages content expiration, thus accuracy.

 

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Collaboration is the New Competitive Advantage

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9. How to Choose the Right Proposal Software

Selecting the right proposal software platform for your business can seem like a daunting task, with a large number of vendors and a wide range of solution offerings.

Before you start looking at specific solutions, you should introspect about precisely what you’re looking to gain from this purchase/partnership.

 

What Do You Want your Proposals to Achieve?

At first glance, this question may appear strange, but surprisingly many organizations never stop to think much about it. The key goal of a good proposal is to convince the prospect that you are the right fit for their business needs. Out of the heaps and heaps of proposals on their desk, the evaluators must see yours as the one proposal that they want to put their money on.

Sure, the companies and organizations that consistently put forth winning proposals rely on proposal solutions to efficiently manage their content and streamline workflows – but not just any solutions. They didn’t just google “the best proposal tool” and click on the first result that seemed to answer their query.

There are a few fundamental components that every enterprise proposal platform should possess for it to be an effective and reliable solution. Some of these features and capabilities are not always available in every solution in the market.

Look out for the following eight key characteristics when choosing an enterprise proposal software solution for your company:

 

1. Automatic Formatting, Layout and Numbering

A good proposal solution allows you to work with set document templates. This means you don’t need to spend any time applying manual numbering, formatting or layout, as it is all taken care of automatically.

Furthermore, automatic formatting, layout, and numbering ensure your documents will always follow brand guidelines and help writers focus solely on content.

 

2. Built-In Workflow with Review / Approval Stages

The proposal solution you’re considering buying should offer a built-in workflow system to simplify your proposal creation and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

The built-in workflow makes it possible for a large number of people to seamlessly co-author on the same document, at the same time. This means that the content review and approval process can start in parallel with content creation.

A built-in workflow system enables you to assign tasks, set deadlines and control the process from start to finish. When changes are made to a section, everyone involved is notified with an internal message in the solution or by an automatically sent email.

 

3. Data Security

In today’s global collaborative work environments, where dozens of employees and contractors work together on the same deal or document, safeguarding your confidential information cannot be overemphasized. So pay a LOT of attention to the security measures that the proposal software solution offers.

Ensure the solution is ISO 27001 certified, which ensures that the vendor has stringent processes to identify, manage, and reduce information security risks.

Also look for a proposal solution that keeps your confidential information secure by offering a secured database-driven content repository that allows access to only those who are authorized to access it.

 

4. Central Content Repository

The proposal solution you select should offer master content management and composite document management capabilities. This means that you can easily keep your data in a central content repository.

A central content repository allows you to dynamically use the same content in different documents or in various formats. The labor-intensive and expensive work of editing need only be carried out once, on one document. Further amendments are automated, and all lived documents are updated at the same time.

Templates and previously submitted proposals can also be accessed from a central content repository, massively reducing time and effort spent searching for and re-using content.

 

5. Professional PDF Output

Everything in your proposal, from start to finish, should lead to one logical conclusion: This proposal is the obvious choice. To achieve this, proposal teams strategically use graphics (charts, graphs, and images) to emphasize key points and allow reviewers to follow the proposal’s logical structure.

Any enterprise proposal solution needs to ensure consistent, professional output by supporting high-resolution graphics and pictures as well as vector-based graphics, both in document layout and content.

 

6. Scalability

A good database-driven proposal solution can be used as a platform for any document or information-centric processes.

As your company grows and customer demands change, you’ll need flexible and scalable solutions that can adapt to your evolving business model and continue to meet your specific needs. An enterprise-ready software solution should allow and encourage scaling, not only locally but globally.

When your organization needs to scale rapidly, the proposal solution should be ready at all times, without you having to re-configure the database. Not only will this save money, but it will save massive amounts of time and human resources.

 

7. Open APIs

Will the software solution be obsolete in five years’ time? That might easily be the case if you choose a stand-alone product that lacks compatibility with other systems your company uses, today and in the future.

A few years from now, your business requirements may not be the same as today. Make sure your chosen proposal solution is built on open APIs, allowing it to work and integrate with both existing and future applications and infrastructure. This ensures that one central pool of data is used across your organization.

 

8. Battle-Proven

Has the software solution demonstrated its abilities and been the preferred solution across a wide range of industries for, say, two decades? Has it consistently delivered results for other businesses in your particular niche or sector?

Battle-proven software has gone through continuous development and user feedback cycles. It’s had kinks ironed out, and it’s had new features added at the suggestion of users. It’s reliable. it causes fewer problems, and it just works.

What’s more, battle-proven software is going to be around for the foreseeable future, optimizing your business processes and helping you scale.

 

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10. Summary: Move to Cloud-Based Proposal Software 

To help you keep on top of the workflow when multiple contributors work on the same document, you need to implement a solution that enables you to edit and create content by either adding new content, reviewing and approving the content, or reusing content by both copying and linking to master content. 

Moreover, you require capabilities such as document automation, document assembly and high-quality publishing in a secure environment not reliant on files.

This is why managers and executives worldwide turn to enterprise-grade proposal software to empower their people to get things done correctly, accurately, fast, and with full transparency

 

The Strategic Business Value of a Co-Authoring and Automation Solution 

Too many companies are still creating their business-critical documents using standard document management and desktop publishing tools. Consequently, they end up with a serial process that undermines their ultimate goal with the document.

Why? Because file-based solutions are not built for co-authoring. File sharing is a check-in and check-out process where you need to break down your document into multiple files, and co-authors don’t really work on the same document simultaneously. This can cause confusion and difficulties battling version control, and hassling with formatting layers and numbering.

The workarounds lack the document control tools necessary to manage content effectively through each step in the co-authoring process. It is difficult to have a complete picture of what has been done and by whom.

With a software solution that enables co-authoring, the whole team works on the same document in real time – regardless of where they are based. This means that the content review and approval process can start in parallel with the content creation. No formatting or versioning issues. No late-nights and last-minute panic trying to determine which is the most current and complete copy.

The document is always the latest and greatest, with built-in workflow and reports to provide estimates of progress at any time.

A truly collaborative proposal software solution includes all the common features of a word processor, but it is custom-designed to enable real-time co-authoring and streamlined workflow. This helps remove the inefficiencies and risks associated with the use of traditional file-based solutions, such as lack of visibility and access control, and difficulties with maintaining consistent formatting and layout.

 

Key Requirements for Enterprise Proposal Software in 2021

Most document management software allows for collaboration, but this doesn’t necessarily improve your process or save you time. Instead, you need to look for a solution that enables co-authoring.

To help you keep on top of the workflow when multiple contributors work on the same document, any enterprise proposal software worth its salt needs to meet a set of basic functionality and system requirements.

First, the software solution has to be able to bring proposal writers together by providing a centralized collaboration functionality that effectively replaces the endless email back-and-forth.

Additionally, to improve co-authoring and collaboration, the solution must enable you to edit and create content by either adding new content, reviewing and approving the content, or reusing content by both copying and linking to master content. All the while, users need to instantly see who is doing what.

Second, the software solution should offer key capabilities such as document automation, document assembly and high-quality publishing in a secure environment not reliant on files.

Third, the software must offer built-in security that protects your confidential information, by providing a secured database-driven content repository that allows access to only those who are authorized to access it. Any sections that are actively being edited should be locked to a single user, while the rest of the document remains open for editing by other authorized users. 

When you are set free from unnecessary worries, you can focus solely on creating a winning proposal.

Finally, the solution must allow users to obtain the information they need anytime and anywhere. Thus, it needs to have a comprehensive knowledge base or information database (central content repository) that is easy to search and access.

 

Transform Your Proposal Process

Moving to a cloud-based co-authoring solution helps you leverage document collaboration as a new competitive advantage, by working smarter, safer and more efficiently.

A proposal co-authoring and management solution lets you spend time on how to win the proposal, instead of wasting time on how to deliver it. This helps your organization react more quickly to opportunities in the market and ensure that your proposals are of the highest quality and integrity.

Partner with a trusted vendor and transform your proposal creation process using best-in-class co-authoring and automation software.

 

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