Once upon a time, you had to walk around the office and ask collaborators to send you what you needed to respond to an RFP. As the digital revolution took hold, it became necessary to manage the process virtually across multiple geographies, languages, teams, and time zones.
Now that teams all over the world are learning to work remotely, RFP software has become even more important. One survey found that 47% of workers want to work from home one to four days a week, even after it’s safe to return to the office. 40% want to be remote all the time.
Because RFP response is one of the most collaborative activities an organization undertakes, proposal management teams are seeking out RFP software that helps them:
- Embrace data-driven project management.
- Free up strategic resources by automating administrative tasks.
- Integrate workflows to capture, qualify, collaborate on, and respond to proposal requests.
What they’ve found in solutions such as RFPIO is that RFP software helps them drive the RFP process for remote teams in three key ways.
#1: Improve RFP Management by Breaking Responses into Manageable Sections
The first thing you do when an RFP comes in is determine the resources and content required. How many sections are there? What sort of subject matter expertise is needed? And how do we ensure deadlines are met? When done manually, this could mean pasting sections into multiple documents, noting sections and sub-sections, and gathering content from disparate sources—a labor-intensive process for even the most experienced proposal manager.
When you upload an RFP document into RFPIO, artificial intelligence (AI) systems take over and help you auto-identify content requirements. Within minutes, you can know how many questions there are, which SMEs (subject matter experts) to involve, how many authors will be needed, and where potential bottlenecks may arise.
RFPIO also converts a one-dimensional RFP document into a dynamic, collaborative work environment where you can analyze bid requests, forecast resources, assign work, and track progress. It can be organized and quickly broken down into related question and answer (Q & A) fields. That way you don’t have to email an overwhelming source file to multiple responders. Instead, you can send collaborators only the necessary bite-sized sections that matter to them most.
Other benefits of creating a live work environment out of a stagnant document include:
- Assigning tasks to responders with the most relevant expertise AND the time to contribute.
- Monitoring what all authors and reviewers are working on to determine their workload and track their assignments.
- Setting up and sending automated task notifications and reminders to keep collaborators on schedule. They can even be a guest working outside of the organization as an external user.
- Allowing collaborators to respond directly in the task notification or reminder without the need to dig through attachments or file folders to find the content in question.
- Visualizing overall progress and understanding resource costs of responding to each proposal.
#2: Save Time by Leveraging Automation Technology and Centralizing Content
Nobody likes spending their time answering the same question over and over again. That’s why RFPIO’s ability to automatically answer common questions is so valuable. Auto-response eliminates repetitive work and gives SMEs more time to focus on their specific areas of expertise. It’s a sophisticated feature that essentially lets proposal managers take heavy asks like…
“Hey, can you write down and define all the services that we offer?”
…and reframe them into simple questions like…
“Hey, RFPIO says these services apply to this RFP. Can you check to make sure they’re accurate?”
SMEs appreciate their time being valued. Proposal managers appreciate the fast turnaround. If you find auto-response technology tantalizing (who wouldn’t?) and want to learn more, go to the 19-minute mark in my webinar (below) for details.
Auto-response technology is made possible by a comprehensive answer library. SMEs don’t need to take the time to provide answers to this library. It’s passively populated every time they answer a question. If you want, you can add a reviewer or moderator. Whether it’s through email, Slack, Google Docs, or individual spreadsheets, RFPIO harvests that response to build an intelligent knowledgebase. Eventually, it’s commonplace for organizations to answer 70-80% of an RFP with their auto-response technology powered by their unique answer library.
Final RFP submissions include more than just Q & A pairs. They’ll have whitepapers, case studies, graphics, documents, and other content that needs to be easily searched, formatted, reviewed, and attached to response packets. RFPIO allows you to centralize all of that content without changing how it’s currently organized. Keep it in SharePoint, Google Chrome, CRM, Google Drive, OneDrive, or wherever, but make it searchable and retrievable through RFPIO.
#3: Make Informed Decisions on Which Bids You’re More Likely to Win
When you plug RFPIO in and start using it, you start amassing data. What’s working, what isn’t, win rates, time-to-completion, profiles of issuers, and much more.
For proposal managers, one valuable use of this data is to create a designated intake area for proposal requests. This achieves two goals: one, it helps you capture proposal requests; and two, it helps your company make data-driven decisions as to whether or not to pursue a proposal:
- See all requests, including project details, client information, and supporting documents all in one place.
- Gain visibility into the best authors for projects, how many days it will take to complete, and the estimated value based on prior outcomes.
This is an immensely beneficial feature. You can learn more about how it works at the 29-minute mark of my webinar.
Focus on the Win
When RFPs come in, they can be both exciting and overwhelming. While the promise of winning the RFP should be the focus, teams often fall victim to worrying about barriers to success. Everything from how much time will be consumed to who will manage the whole process to how to manage version control problems creep to the surface. RFP software will help keep the organization focused on the excitement of a potential win.
Watch my full webinar, below, to learn more about how to use technology to improve the response process. Or, schedule a demo to find out how RFP software can help your proposal team, whether you’re remote or back in the office.