THE RFPIO BLOG

Start Responding Like a Pro

The RFPIO blog is full of insights and best practices, giving you the tools you’ll need to streamline your process and respond with confidence.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

13 top blogs for response professionals

13 top blogs for response professionals

I like to think of RFP response managers as the unsung heroes of their organizations. In a typical company, around […]


Category: Tag: Knowledge management tools

13 top blogs for response professionals

13 top blogs for response professionals

I like to think of RFP response managers as the unsung heroes of their organizations. In a typical company, around fourty-five percent of revenue begins with an RFP, and response is becoming more and more competitive every day.

In addition to having a range of titles — proposal manager, bid manager, capture manager, or RFP manager — response managers wear a lot of hats. They’re part researcher, part writer, part salesperson, and part ringleader, although they may claim that they’re more than part ringleader. Keeping up with that evolving skill set can be exhausting!

You could go back to school, I suppose, or you can hone your skills through blogs. Every morning, I read a handful of curated blog posts to help up my game. They’re quick, convenient, and easy to come back to when interrupted, and the great ones make me feel a little bit smarter.

In this post, I will share some of my favorite blogs. Some are about RFPs and response management and others dust off and refine all those other hats you wear.

  1. Gartner
  2. McKinsey
  3. Learning Hub from G2
  4. Insight Partners Blog
  5. Hubspot
  6. Seth’s Blog
  7. Martech Blog
  8. Proposal Pro
  9. Presentation Zen
  10. RFPIO
  11. Winning the Business from APMP
  12. Grammarly
  13. Business Writing

Best blogs for general business trends

1. Gartner

Gartner is a fantastic resource for all things tech. They offer business consulting and some of the most thorough statistical research out there. The blog contextualizes their research and offers invaluable actionable insights to increase revenue and navigate a dynamic business environment.

Post you should start with: Is now the time to stand up or invest in sales enablement?

Generating revenue is the single most important business goal. As a writer, I like to feel as though I am part of the revenue generation process, although not directly. My colleagues in the marketing department and I are responsible for creating brand awareness and helping our sales department sell. Does that make marketing “sales enablement?” Is RFPIO a sales enablement platform? Doug Bushée with Gartner thinks so.

“(Sales enablement is) an opportunity to help your sales force be more effective, not just through technology or training but with a complete package that includes content, technology, communications, sales process, and training to enable your sales teams to drive revenue.” – Doug Bushée

 

2. McKinsey & Company

McKinsey & Company is an OG in the management consulting world. While their blog isn’t specifically geared toward RFP response, they offer insights and best practices for all verticals and organizational structures. Many in the response industry look to McKinsey for inspiration or statistics for their own blogs. McKinsey’s blog covers a wide range of topics including mergers and acquisitions, analytics, risk management, sales operations, and more.

Post you should start with: Better forecasting for large capital projects

You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry with more variables, at least when it comes to proposals, than construction. The larger the project, the more difficult the bidding process. Most (we hope) companies don’t want to underbid, but all too often, it happens. This blog post explores the psychological factors behind underbidding.

“Why do project planners, on average, fail to forecast their effect on the costs of complex projects? We’ve covered this territory before but continue to see companies making strategic decisions based on inaccurate data. Deliberately or not, costs are systematically underestimated and benefits are overestimated during project preparation—because of delusions or honest mistakes on one hand and deceptions or strategic manipulation of information or processes on the other.” – McKinsey & Company

3. Learning Hub from G2

I am sort of obsessed with reviews. I refuse to try a new hair stylist, dog groomer, or restaurant without first checking their online reviews. I’m that annoying person who scans QR codes in the aisles of Costco or Target to make sure I’m making the best buying decisions.

Before accepting my job with RFPIO, I made sure it was a cultural fit for me and I checked G2 to see what their customers had to say about the platform. G2 is more than a software review site. Its blog is a phenomenal source of information for nearly every vertical and every skill set.

Post you should start with: What is accountability in the workplace? 12 ways to foster it

Most RFP responses require several stakeholders, which is where that unofficial role of ringmaster comes in. Guest blogger Susmita Sarma has several very helpful tips to create accountability in the workplace, which is sure to help you spend less time chasing stakeholders down and more time doing the rest of your jobs.

“In reality, accountability at work is all of the above, which runs like a machine. But if the employees keep no accountability mechanism in place, things quickly fall apart. To avoid this, every employee should be accountable for their own actions at work. It builds confidence within teams and organizations because people know they can depend on one another.” – Susmita Sarma

4. Insight Partners Blog

Do you follow economic or industry news? If not, I completely get it. Sometimes our plates are so full that it’s difficult to see the world outside. Few know more about business trends than venture capitalists, which is why my go-to blog for all things business is Insight Partners.

Post you should start with: SaaS pricing tactics for a high-inflation environment

Pricing is one of the key components of an RFP, and the ultimate component of an RFQ (request for quote). Should you offer the same pricing structure today as a quarter ago? Should you raise prices to cover inflation or lower them to gain a competitive advantage?

“Properly setting prices is an untapped opportunity for SaaS providers to squeeze more value out of what they offer. We often see companies who haven’t touched their pricing for three years or more — which might explain the lack of inflationary growth in the sector. Usually this means companies have built up a significant amount of pricing power through market growth and product improvement which they haven’t yet monetized. While this was also the case well before the current inflationary environment, now the opportunities are even greater — while the risks of not adapting your pricing are more severe.” – James Wood

Best marketing blogs

5. Hubspot Blog

Hubspot is one of the top CRM platforms and it has a strong focus on marketing. Their blog could have gone under the “general trends” category, but I read Hubspot for their marketing tips. In their blog, industry experts discuss everything from a product’s life cycle to how to be more productive.

Post you should start with: 12 free personality tests you can take online today

Aren’t online personality tests so early 2000s? In most cases, I’d agree, but there is value in learning how you tick. By understanding your personality and triggers, you can help establish a more harmonious and productive work environment. And because more data is almost always better, have your teammates take the tests.

These tests are great conversation starters, especially among groups of people who don’t know each other very well. They can help create connections and establish common ground at work. Learning about your colleagues’ personality traits can reveal how each team member prefers to receive feedback and criticism. This can help your team avoid unnecessary miscommunication down the road, as well as lead to more productive projects and meetings.” – Caroline Forsey

6. Seth’s Blog

I guess you could call Seth Godin a marketing guru. He’s a Stanford Business grad, a published author, and a dot com alumnus. Now he blogs. Some of his posts read like streams of consciousness and others like social media posts. I call them bursts of marketing wisdom.

Post you should start with: Contracts and Power

Proposals aren’t technically contracts but many contain the same terms. Who has the power? Would it surprise you to know that the power shifts depending on where you are in the sales cycle? Can you control the shifts?

“In the moment before a contract is signed, the lower-powered party momentarily has more power. That’s because the other entity wants what you have. But as soon as they have it, it’s only the contract that offers concrete protection against future events.” — Seth Godin

7. Martech Blog

The content-rich Martech blog is the leading resource for tech marketers. Their team of marketing professionals blogs about diverse topics such as content strategy, World Cup marketing, and how to survive the death of cookies. They have a robust search engine, so if you have a marketing, or marketing-adjacent, question, just plug your query in to get expert tips. Check the site often as they typically post three or more blogs per day.

Post you should start with: Only 28% of B2B content marketers report having the technology they need

This post caught my attention because it’s one of the many areas where marketers and proposal professionals share common ground. Twenty-eight percent of B2B marketers have the technology they need. Proposal management is somewhat better; 43% say they have the technology they need to perform their jobs.

“The technology issues are likely the results of two things. First, too many B2B companies are letting features and functions determine what’s in their stacks, when it should be determined by their own strategy. Second, they may not understand the level of complexity and amount of resources needed to manage and maintain their martech tools.”

Best proposal blogs

8. Proposal PRO

I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t spend as much time talking about nonprofit grant proposals as we should. Even when taking profit out of the equation, as with any for-profit company, nonprofits still need to create a compelling case for organizations to untie their purse strings. Competing for an organization’s budgeted grant money is challenging. Because you have to demonstrate that your nonprofit meets a donor’s values, a captivating and clear narrative is perhaps even more important than with for-profit industries.

Jodie Eisenberg, the founder of Proposal PRO, specializes in government grants and has more than $500 million in federal grants and contracts under her belt. In her blogs, she shares the tips and tricks to win those super-competitive federal grants.

Post you should start with: 4 ways that grant-writing can ruin your personality

Confession time: one of my closest friends is a grant writer. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard more polite variations on #4, “Don’t talk to me—I’m on a deadline!” Proposal writers of all kinds are arguably some of the busiest in their organizations. Jodie empathizes and offers advice that might help save grant writers from themselves.

“Let’s face it, deadline pressure is a thing, and if you’re still waiting for people to sign documents, provide a final budget item, or just call you back with an OK to submit, things can get tense.” – Jodie Eisenberg

9. Presentation Zen

The first thing that caught my eye with Presentation Zen was, well, the name. I’m willing to bet that your job, like mine, is fast-paced and requires you to turn on a dime. Presentations, where perfection is expected, only add to the stress. Presentation Zen is all about bringing confidence to your presentations by featuring the best advice from presentation experts.

Post you should start with: Pixar Studios *still* offers free storytelling lessons online

You may wonder why I recommended a post about the largest animation studio in the world. I’m not suggesting you include cartoon characters and fantasy in your responses, but proposal writing, like most writing, should offer strong narratives and follow a similar arc to your favorite Pixar movies.

Pixar may be the best at the technical side of animation, but what really made them successful is their understanding of story and storytelling. In an old interview regarding Pixar’s success, Steve Jobs said this: “Even though Pixar is the most technologically advanced studio in the world, John Lasseter has a saying which has really stuck: No amount of technology will turn a bad story into a good story.”

10. RFPIO Blog

I know how it sounds to recommend our own blog, but we’re truly passionate about improving the full-circle RFP process with response management software. That means that within our blog we cover procurement in addition to proposal themes. This broad range of topics helps deepen understanding and collaboration between buyers and sellers. Not only that, but many of the posts in our blog are inspired directly by recent conversations with our customers.

Post you should start with: RFPIO CEO sees opportunity in the changing economy

This post from Ganesh Shankar, CEO at RFPIO, offers a vision of how response teams can help their companies navigate economic uncertainty. Currently, for many, RFPs are manual, time-consuming, painful, and downright annoying — but they don’t have to be. In addition to identifying challenges faced by organizations, the post explores how technology, transparency, and collaboration can drive significant revenue.

“In the grand scheme of things, this is a time when companies are looking for ways to be more efficient. Technologies tend to help companies become more efficient.
Better efficiency doesn’t mean that automation will take people’s jobs. I strongly feel that technology will allow companies to produce more and deliver better outputs with less infrastructure.” – Ganesh Shankar

11. Winning the business

APMP (the Association of Proposal Management Professionals) is the resource for proposal managers and stakeholders. Their blog, not surprisingly, is a wealth of information. Some of it is serious and some is rather tongue-in-cheek although most posts focus on best practices and industry news.

Post you should start with: Is a business proposal different from a marriage proposal?

If you google “proposal,” you’ll find that most dictionaries offer two definitions. One is a written proposal and the other involves a ring and a knee. Is it a reach to compare the two? Winning the Business makes the case that the two types of proposals have a lot more in common than we think.

“This article considers the logical progression of the capture methodology by comparing it with (the) universal experience of personal courtship. Couples go through a multi-stepped process that is remarkably like the four-step capture methodology. Both scenarios have several similarities including a common means to prompt a positive response during the proposal stage.” – Alan L. Lewis, CP APMP

Best writing blogs

12. Grammarly

What do proposal managers and college students have in common? In a word, writing. And in both cases, grammar matters. sixty-two percent of procurement departments say that they regularly receive error-riddled RFP responses. Sadly, grammatical and spelling errors can take a bidder right out of the running, which is understandable since most customers want to see attention to detail throughout an RFP response.

There are several writing and grammar tools online, but I love Grammarly because it covers many of the confusing basics like when to use accept vs. except.

Post you should start with: How to write a great business proposal

Grammarly is far more than just an online grammar checker. Its blog offers real-world advice and business writing tips. Grammarly can help boost your win rate by showcasing your company in its best light. Rachel Meltzer offers guidelines for creating a business proposal, whether solicited through an RFP or unsolicited.

“A business proposal is a document that presents one company’s products or services to another company in detail. Business proposals are often customized for the potential client. It’s a way for the company to market its product and get on the same page as its potential client before they agree to work together.” – Rachel Meltzer

13. Business Writing

While I love Grammarly, its reach is broad. There are tips and tools for students, fiction writers, and writing hobbyists. If you’re looking for something that’s specifically focused on business writing, there’s the Business Writing blog. Like Grammarly, they write entire blog posts covering confusing words like “council vs. counsel,” but their posts all have business angles.

Post you should start with: Is “data” singular or plural? Does it matter?

A tech copywriter, technical writer, and data scientist walked into a bar to ponder the word “data.” Okay, I’m open to suggestions as to a punchline, but a debate over whether “data” is singular or plural could get a little raucous, especially if one of the writers is, shall we say, traditional. Business Writing’s Ryan Fisher tackles that surprisingly controversial issue just to conclude that we’re all right.

“A look at Google’s Ngram graph shows that in American English, while the plural form (the data are) has been predominantly more common, the singular form (the data is) has been rising and is now on par with the plural form.” – Ryan Fisher

 

How GEODIS is reducing SME review effort by 80% using response management software

How GEODIS is reducing SME review effort by 80% using response management software

GEODIS is a leading global supply chain company, providing third-party logistics services to more than 150,000 clients in 168 countries around the world. Responding to Requests for Proposal (RFPs) is central to GEODIS business development, and is the main channel through which it attracts new clients, expands service offerings, and increases revenue.

GEODIS Americas maintains an in-depth RFPIO Content Library consisting of more than 2,000 Q&A pairs that proposal professionals use to respond to RFPs. In 2022, GEODIS Americas began an update project to refresh and consolidate information within the Content Library. The aim of this Content Library refresh project is to:

  • Reduce the effort required from GEODIS Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to review and update Q&A pairs.
  • Ensure that the information contained in Q&A pairs is consistent, accurate, and up-to-date.
  • Win GEODIS more business through responding to RFPs with high-quality, comprehensive answers.

GEODIS Americas maintains its Content Library within the RFPIO response management tool. RFPIO has been central to the Content Library refresh project, and provides essential features and capabilities for finding information, updating answers, interacting with SMEs, and strengthening Q&A quality.

GEODIS has managed the Content Library refresh through six key steps.

1. Understand the need for a Content Library refresh

The GEODIS Content Library has become unwieldy over time. This is a natural result of incorporating information from diverse sources into a central repository. As multiple GEODIS SMEs write and respond to RFPs, their answers are copied into the Content Library to preserve their work and provide information for future responses.

This creates duplication in Q&A pairs. As SMEs create multiple responses on similar topics over a period of time, the Content Library captures each response as a separate Q&A pair, even if the answers are similar or identical. SMEs must regularly review every answer as part of an ongoing update process, including duplicates. Reducing duplication within the Content Library significantly reduces the associated SME’s time and effort.

The duplicate question overhead also exists for GEODIS proposal preparers who must decide on which of a number of possible Q&A responses is the “best” answer.

Multiple authors cause issues with the consistency and clarity of information in GEODIS Q&A pairs. Variations in writing style, depth of content, and other areas create differences in the style and tone of answers, which could be distracting when combined together into an RFP response document. This generates more rework to finesse final response documents before sending them to prospective clients.

These factors drove the need for the GEODIS Content Library refresh. GEODIS and RFPIO believe this is an excellent opportunity to use RFPIO features to find duplicates, engage with SMEs, rewrite content, and ensure consistency.

2. Use a strategic approach for a Content Library refresh

GEODIS decided to tackle the Content Library refresh as a self-contained, separate initiative to its operational proposal response work. The marketing team hired a consultant copywriter and project manager who could dedicate time and effort to lead the refresh project and work alongside the operational team.

The consultant reviewed the Content Library, using several RFPIO tool features to understand the scope and structure of GEODIS Q&A pairs:

  • The Answer Library Report for information on total questions, Q&A pair owners, review timelines, keywords, and other details.
  • Other RFPIO reports, including duplicate content, content search terms, and content usage reports.
  • Q&A tags for details of how each Q&A pair was categorized and to understand how tags could be rationalized for better future Q&A management.
  • Advanced and saved searches for filtering and drilling down into specific Q&A pairs.

This analysis led to a phased approach for the Content Library refresh, updating and consolidating individual Q&A pairs depending on how they were tagged in RFPIO. The consultant developed a project plan, style guide, SME communications, and a standard operating process for updating the Content Library.

“The GEODIS Content Library refresh would have been much more difficult and time-consuming without the RFPIO tool. RFPIO features have made it much faster and easier for us to identify duplicate content and develop a strong approach to enhance the Content Library.”

—Paul Maplesden, Consultant and Project Lead, GEODIS Content Library Refresh

3. Get SMEs and stakeholders on board

Refreshing the GEODIS Content library requires buy-in and support from SMEs and other stakeholders, as clear and effective communications are essential to a successful project. GEODIS decided on a multi-step approach to managing communications:

  • Sending out communications about the project scope and aims to manage expectations and prepare all SMEs and stakeholders within GEODIS Americas.
  • Targeting individual SMEs related to specific Q&A pair refreshes.
  • Using built-in RFPIO communication tools to provide updates, direction, and ownership for individual Q&A pairs.

GEODIS developed communications explaining the aims of the Content Library refresh, particularly reducing the time and effort required from SMEs through removing duplicate questions. In addition to emailing these communications, GEODIS took advantage of several RFPIO SME engagement features, including:

  • Investigating each Q&A pair impacted by that phase of the refresh, and emailing the owners and moderators of that pair as captured in RFPIO.
  • Using RFPIO comment and mention functions for each pair to keep everyone updated on its status.
  • Analyzing SME review cycles for each updated Q&A pair to ensure it meets company and SME needs.

This approach ensured that all SMEs knew when their Q&A pairs were being consolidated and rewritten, and let them know exactly what actions they needed to take. The consultant leading the project also provided regular weekly updates to the proposal team and marketing director to keep them informed on project progress.

4. Establish a repeatable process for updating Q&A pairs

GEODIS developed a step-by-step, repeatable process to ensure a consistent approach to consolidating and rewriting each Q&A pair. The key steps of this process are:

  1. Establish which areas of the Content Library refresh this phase should focus on. Prioritize key lines of business during a proof of concept to validate the process and secure stakeholder buy-in.
  2. Identify duplicate Q&A pairs for this phase, together with the relevant SMEs.
  3. Consolidate and rewrite information from multiple duplicate answers into a master answer.
  4. Archive old, duplicated questions out of the active Content Library.
  5. Promote and link together master answers.

GEODIS found the following RFPIO features particularly useful in developing a standard process:

  • Running duplicate content reports for an overview of identical questions and answers.
  • Reviewing content usage statistics to identify the most popular content and possible master answers.
  • Adding Q&A tags to mark and identify specific Q&A pairs for archival or promotion to master answers.
  • Carrying out phrase, advanced, and saved search queries to search and filter by multiple criteria.
  • Establishing URL links for each Q&A pair for definitive identification and tracking.

During the development of this repeatable process, GEODIS worked with RFPIO Customer Success to ensure that the process was following best practices. RFPIO offered multiple suggestions to enhance the process and to take full advantage of the platform’s tools.

“Responding to RFPs in a consistent, accurate, and comprehensive way is central to winning more business. The RFPIO tool, coupled with the Content Library refresh project, supports our growth ambitions.”

—Michelle Johnson, VP of Growth Marketing, GEODIS Americas

5. Carry out the Content Library refresh

The refresh project uses several techniques and approaches to review and then remove, update, or consolidate each Q&A pair within the library as part of a phased approach.

Identify all Q&A pairs related to the specific topics in each phase

Q&A pairs were reviewed and updated by area, as captured in RFPIO. These pairs were identified and analyzed through:

  • Tags assigned to each Q&A pair within RFPIO.
  • Advanced searches, filtering, and sorting within RFPIO.
  • Titles and content of each question and answer.
  • Owners and SMEs for each Q&A pair.

Update communications were sent to all relevant SMEs and stakeholders through this process.

Decide on removal, update, or consolidation of each Q&A pair

Once all Q&A pairs were identified for a specific topic, the project management lead consolidated answer information from each Q&A pair into a master document. This master document was updated based on several best practices:

  • Consolidates information from several duplicated or substantially similar Q&A pairs into one “master” Q&A pair.
  • Rewrites answers to ensure a consistent approach, style, and tone both within and across Q&A pairs.
  • Ensures that master answers comprehensively capture all of the relevant information from the original Q&A pairs.
  • Updates information back into RFPIO and marks that Q&A pair as a “master answer,” using tagging and titles.
  • Removes any related Q&A pairs so that only the master Q&A pair remains.

Use RFPIO tools to manage the consolidation, archival, and promotion of Q&A pairs

GEODIS used several RFPIO tools to manage Q&A updates:

  • Tagging Q&A pairs for promotion to master answers or for removal and to ensure correct and consistent tag usage for master Q&A pairs.
  • Archiving of duplicate or similar Q&A pairs into an archive collection to remove Q&A pairs from the active library while preserving them for historic reference purposes.
  • Updating the “Alert Text” associated with each Q&A pair to notify SMEs of its status as an archived or master answer.
  • Adding in alternate questions for better searchability for proposal preparers.
  • Including URL links within each answer for cross-references between related Q&A pairs within the RFPIO tool.
  • Linking related answers together through the RFPIO “Related Answers” function.
  • Reviewing content owners and moderators for the master Q&A pairs.

Complete the Q&A pair rewrite for that phase of the Content Library refresh

Following the update of Q&A pairs in each phase, GEODIS closed out that part of the Content Library refresh through some final steps:

  • Updating the SME review cycle for the new, master Q&A pairs.
  • Mentioning SMEs within the RFPIO comments for each master Q&A pair and requesting they carry out an initial review for the updated and rewritten content.
  • Understanding any lessons learned from that part of the project.
  • Finalizing any communications with SMEs and stakeholders.
  • Moving on to the next phase of the Content Library refresh.

6. Show the value of the Content Library refresh

GEODIS has primarily tracked the effectiveness of the Content Library refresh through the reduction in the number of Q&A pairs that SMEs need to review. Due to the number of duplicate Q&A pairs, SME review cycles, and the content in each answer, reducing the number of pairs directly correlates with reducing the time, effort, and cost of SMEs reviewing those pairs.

To date, GEODIS has reduced the number of Q&A pairs in RFPIO by almost 80%.

Subjects with the Highest Percentage of Q&A Pair Reduction
55% 80% 82% 85%
Safety and materials handling CSR and sustainability Employee training and inclusion Business continuity

GEODIS expects to maintain a Q&A pair reduction rate of between 70% and 80% over the life of the Content Library refresh project. At the lower end of this estimate, this means it’s likely that the current Q&A library would be reduced from 2,000+ pairs to around 600. On average, it’s common for RFPIO customers to reduce Q&A pairs by 50-70% after their initial review of all Q&A pairs in their libraries.

Anecdotal feedback from SMEs and proposal preparers has also been very positive, with comments on the quality and comprehensiveness of the master Q&A answers within the RFPIO tool.

“Our team of 200 subject matter experts has a full-time job on top of supporting content in our answer library of 2,000 question/answer pairs. Both of these jobs are important to maintain and grow our business. Minimizing the content assigned to them for review is a top priority. The library refresh project, supported by the RFPIO tool,  minimizes their content reviews, enabling them to spend that time creating quality updates. Its’ a ‘win’ for them and GEODIS.”

—Penny Lane, Senior Proposal Manager, GEODIS Americas

On track for a best-in-class Content Library

GEODIS originally selected RFPIO as its RFP response tool for several reasons:

  • Ease of use and administration, particularly for SMEs across multiple business areas.
  • Robust integration with existing tools, operations, collaboration, and review processes.
  • Quality and range of features, documentation, and support.
  • Content management, search, and reporting capabilities.

These same qualities and features have proven central to the Content Library refresh, as shown in the table below.

Before RFPIO and Content Library Refresh After RFPIO and Content Library Refresh
Difficult to administer and prepare RFP responses due to inconsistent information and variations in tone and content of RFP answers. RFP answers have a consistent approach and style, with each containing comprehensive information on specific areas.
Duplicate or similar answers to questions make it challenging to choose a “best” answer for an RFP response. Consolidation of duplicate answers creates a single master answer for each area that reduces the effort required to prepare RFP responses.
SMEs must spend considerable time and effort reviewing substantially similar content across multiple, duplicated RFP answers. Reduction in the number of answers on specific topics has radically reduced the time and effort required as part of the SME review cycle.
The quality of RFP responses was based on substantially varying input from multiple sources and authors RFP response quality has improved due to stronger tagging, searching, filtering, and other RFPIO features.

GEODIS continues to work alongside the RFPIO business to continue building its Content Library into a best-in-class resource.

To learn more about how RFPIO can power content governance for your sales processes through intuitive collaboration and intelligent deduplications features, schedule a demo at www.RFPIO.com.

Understanding knowledge management

Understanding knowledge management

Aside from your employees, company knowledge is your organization’s most valuable asset. If yours is like most, the amount of knowledge accumulated over the years seems to grow exponentially until systems become bloated with duplicate and outdated information.

Traditionally, knowledge management was haphazard and siloed, with few auditing processes in place. AI-driven technology to the rescue! RFPIO’s Content Library is an AI-powered knowledge management database that helps democratize and organize information, benefiting anyone who needs it.

What is knowledge management?

Knowledge management is about managing a company’s content repository policies, practices, and pretty much anything that is valuable enough for the company to keep. There are several ways to capture, share, and organize knowledge. Knowledge management is about organization, but it’s also about sharing, along with the process of recording and retaining. 

If you are unsure about the importance of a knowledge management system, read how one of the most technologically advanced organizations in the world dropped the knowledge management ball, with ramifications that still reverberate, half a century later

Did you know that the main reason NASA stopped sending crewed missions to the moon is poor knowledge management? If that sounds implausible to you, we don’t blame you. 

In the late 1960s-early 1970s, the United States invested billions of dollars and tapped into some of the brightest minds on the planet toward creating the Apollo missions. 11 iterations in, and several years later, U.S. Astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The entire world was rapt.

After that, it seemed we might be on our way to regular, perhaps even civilian, trips to the moon. But suddenly, in 1972, the Apollo missions stopped, and we haven’t sent a crew to the moon in the 50 years since. Why? Well, in large part because they forgot to write things down.

Indeed, this is an oversimplification. Other factors, such as more advanced materials and technology, made replicating the Apollo crafts difficult. And Apollo blueprints aren’t exactly single-paged documents. However, even NASA admits that its knowledge management failure hurt future projects. 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CKO David Oberhettinger recalls, “No one thought to keep a copy of the drawing and design data for the gargantuan Saturn 5 rocket that brought us to the moon.”

Today, thankfully, NASA takes knowledge management very seriously. They have managed to recreate much of the technology, but the design for the Saturn 5 rocket is gone.

Your company might not be in business to send people to the moon, but as with NASA, moving forward sometimes means looking backward. Not only does company knowledge help you learn from your successes and failures, but it also helps forge a path toward the future. Can effective knowledge management help you avoid Apollo-sized failures?

Obstacles to a knowledge management system

People are often reluctant to share or may take for granted that the knowledge is already public, at least among stakeholders. Some people are more deliberate and have somewhat of an old-school mindset—that if they share too much knowledge, it will make them expendable.

How to encourage company buy-in

Minds don’t change overnight, and neither do work habits. The best approach is gradual. Don’t immediately change everything. Instead, record and organize what you’re doing for processes and how knowledge managers will be able to access information from multiple repositories across the company.

Pitch why it’s essential, such as simplifying the training process. Emphasize that intelligent knowledge management will save their time and keep them from having to pester subject matter experts (SMEs) by eliminating the need to ask for answers to questions the SMEs have already addressed.

What are the three types of knowledge management?

Knowledge management generally encompasses three main types of knowledge: tacit, implicit, and explicit. What are the differences?

Tacit knowledge

Tacit knowledge is as it sounds. It’s the knowledge that comes from years of experience but might not be easy to put into words. Still, the majority of company knowledge is in tacit form. 

Tacit knowledge might include negotiation skills, creative thinking, or knowing the company tone and voice in written correspondence. Because tacit information is by definition difficult to record, it’s best passed on through training, trial and error, and mentorship.

Additionally, tacit knowledge helps position people as industry thought leaders who can communicate with others in the industry on equal footing. 

Implicit knowledge

Have you ever tried to teach basic computer skills to someone who has never used a computer? It can be frustrating to both parties. Implicit knowledge is expertise that comes through training or practice to the point where you no longer have to think about what you’re doing. It can also refer to individual preferential processes. 

For example, how you start your workday—boot up the computer, check emails, check the calendar, etc.—might come from implicit knowledge if it’s a habit. Another example might be how you approach SMEs or make entries into the Content Library.

As with tacit knowledge, implicit knowledge is difficult to record, but it’s not impossible. Implicit knowledge is best passed along through training, which might include 1-to-1s or videos. It’s important to realize that not everyone is elbows deep in your day-to-day tasks, so thoroughness and patience are critical, as they are when you teach someone to use a computer.

Explicit knowledge

When most people think of knowledge management, they think of explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is written or otherwise documented, and easily stored in a knowledge database. 

Examples of explicit knowledge include profit and loss statements, your company’s mission statement, compliance documents, employee handbooks, etc. 

An effective management system should provide combined access to all types of knowledge across all organizational levels, especially since tacit and implicit knowledge can disappear after the knowledge holders leave the organization.

Both tacit and implicit knowledge become explicit when recorded. 

Why is effective knowledge management important?

According to a McKinsey survey, interaction workers spend about ⅕ of their time trying to locate internal information. The same study found that searchable knowledge bases can reduce that time spent by as much as 35%.

An IDC study found that around half of a data professional’s time is lost to improper knowledge management:

  • On average, employees who manage or use data spend 14 hours per week on data they can’t find, protect, or prepare.
  • They spend about 10 hours per week building information that already exists.
  • About 80% of businesses say that accessible, searchable, and accurate information is vital for operational efficiency, policy compliance, risk reduction, regulatory compliance, and increased revenue.

A well-developed, well-maintained knowledge management system has several tangible and not quite as tangible—but still key—benefits, including:

  • Improved efficiency – A well-managed knowledge management system eliminates redundancies, saves time searching for information, and generally empowers employees to do their jobs.
  • Retention of organizational expertise – People within companies have decades of information and historical data in their heads. Retaining the expertise helps prevent repeating mistakes of the past and contextualizes current actions and processes. 
  • Facilitates collaboration – A democratized knowledge management system helps tear down silos by letting people from anywhere in an organization access needed documents or other information for maximum collaboration. 
  • Enables data-driven decisions – A well-maintained knowledge database tracks changes within an organization. It even provides knowledge managers with the tools to see how much a particular part of the repository is used, how much things are utilized and not utilized, where there are knowledge gaps, etc.
  • Reduces the risk of a data breach – A single source of truth should have consistent security processes, such as two-factor authentication. Administrators should also control access. Browser-based access, as is available with RFPIO, lets employees access the knowledge base from anywhere without logging onto the company server.
  • Increases revenue – Accessible company knowledge empowers revenue teams to provide the information customers need and close more deals faster.

See how Crownpeak saw a 6x ROI within months of implementing RFPIO

What should be included in knowledge management systems?

Of course, every company defines critical knowledge differently, but there are some things that every organization should house in a secure, well-maintained company knowledge base. Some information might be closely-guarded, and some might be publicly available. Here are some examples:

  • Company information – Company history, mission, values, public product information vs. what’s on the roadmap for the future. Policies such as diversity, equity, inclusion, etc.
  • Sales enablement material – Product info, processes, sales cycles, relevant data, quotas, busy/slower seasons, customer service information, etc.
  • Internal FAQs – General HR questions, benefits, PTO, policies, product information, customer-facing information, mission values, etc.
  • Customer-facing FAQs – Values, mission, history, products and bundles, diversity, equity, inclusion, philanthropy, case studies, notable customers, etc.
  • Calendars – Major events of importance, quarterly all-hands, meetings from the CEO, events throughout the year, quarterly deadlines, sales cycle, etc. 
  • Marketing documents – Branded and ready-to-go content, brochures, case studies, logos, etc.
  • Product information – Historical and up-to-date versions of the product(s); some include product roadmaps, lists of subject matter experts, product onboarding and training materials, etc. 
  • Security information – Security policies and practices, depth of protection, due diligence questionnaires (DDQs), compliance information, etc.

Types of knowledge management systems

There are two main types of knowledge management systems, corporate wikis and internal knowledge bases. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. 

Corporate wiki

A corporate wiki is a lot like Wikipedia. A wiki is truly democratized; anyone in the company can add to it or edit it. Corporate wikis shouldn’t house confidential information. 

Benefits of a corporate wiki

  • Enables increased employee engagement
  • Open source
  • Searchable

Downsides to a corporate wiki

  • Unreliable contributors and information
  • Difficult to audit
  • No defined page roles

Internal knowledge base software

Internal knowledge base software provides a controlled repository for information. It has defined access and page roles, and the content is generally reviewed for quality, accuracy, and timeliness.

Benefits to an internal knowledge base

An effective organizational knowledge management system should feature centralized accessibility, reusability, and efficiency. Intelligent knowledge management systems also include AI-powered automated response generation, real-time access, and auditing features. 

Knowledge management ensures that content is accessible and shareable within an organization and that there’s a clearly defined process for discovering and capturing knowledge. There are formal and informal ways of managing knowledge. Knowledge managers should look at what is being shared and what they need to capture.

How to develop a knowledge management strategy

Tools do not in themselves motivate people to share knowledge; however, a knowledge management strategy can support a cultural shift around sharing knowledge. Here are some steps for implementing a knowledge management strategy:

Identify organizational objectives

A knowledge management strategy should contribute to overall organizational goals, including organization objectives, culture, infrastructure, processes, etc. 

You can also break down your knowledge management practices, such as discovery, capture, organization sharing, etc.

Audit your current knowledge processes

Evaluating your current knowledge management system is necessary for benchmarking knowledge management capabilities. 

Questions you might ask to gain key insights into processes include: 

  • How effectively is knowledge currently accessed?
  • Where is knowledge presently stored?
  • Where do informational silos exist?
  • What gaps would exist if subject matter experts left and took their expertise with them?
  • What are common search terms?

Some information, such as company history, may be static, while other company knowledge needs regular updating. Setting regular—preferably automated—review cycles for existing data is essential. 

Capture and organize knowledge

As the saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. The same is true for knowledge management. Organizing knowledge as it goes into the database provides better searchability and optimized audit cycles. The best tactics for systematically codifying knowledge include:

  • Adding tags
  • Using templates for consistent formatting
  • Setting up custom fields and collections
  • Using filters for moderation
  • Restricting sensitive content visibility

Implement an accessible knowledge base

People often resist change, even if that change dramatically improves their work processes. The same is true with a knowledge management system. Rather than shock the company ecosystem, take it slowly. Tactics for rolling out a knowledge management system include: 

  • Establishing clear and transparent buy-in from departments – Include department heads in onboarding processes
  • Introducing the system to one department at a time for gradual expansion
  • Prioritizing departments in greatest need – For many companies, those in most need include revenue teams
  • Scheduling training for all users

Conduct regular audits

Advanced knowledge management systems are robust and intuitive, but when there are 1,000s of somewhat different answers to a single question, you might find yourself combing through them all. 

But a knowledge base is supposed to save you time, right? It will, but like a garden, it needs regular pruning—we suggest monthly. Here are some of the content auditing best practices:

  • Conduct a duplicate report and delete or warehouse duplicate content.
  • RFPIO’s Content Library allows auditors to pull insights reports to see how often content is used. Archive any content that hasn’t been used in the last year.
  • Archive content that hasn’t been used at all.

Measure improvement

There are many intangible benefits to knowledge base software, such as better collaboration, fewer mistakes, higher quality proposal responses, less frustration on the part of SMEs, better engagement, etc. But executives generally want to see more. They want numbers. 

Scheduling regular Content Library health reports can assist in demonstrating ROI to stakeholders.

Fortunately, RFPIO’s internal knowledge base software capabilities allow for easy, quantifiable measurements of post-implementation success through a wide range of reporting features, including:

  • Content Library Insights Report – Track trends, win/loss analysis, etc. Content Library reporting is almost limitless.
  • Content Library Timeline – Are you meeting customers’ timelines or your deliverables?
  • Content Library Search Terms Report – What are frequently used search terms?
  • Projects – Which projects are currently being worked on and which are on hold?
  • User activity – Which employees benefit from which content, and what content do they use?

RFPIO’s reporting features are fully customizable if the pre-built reporting features don’t cover all of your company’s needs. 

Breaking down silos: How RFPIO can help

Farm country, as you’ve probably witnessed, is dotted with grain silos. Silos are effective at storing grain because they’re insular—there’s little chance of contamination or leakage. That’s great for grain but not so much for companies.

Unfortunately, many companies, intentionally or not, work in solos. Departments are isolated, and any knowledge they create stays with them. RFPIO addresses the barriers that keep people from effectively sharing knowledge, including:

  • Not enough time – You have too much going on to provide information to people who you don’t even know. With RFPIO’s Content Library, they can find it themselves.
  • Cumbersome processes – RFPIO’s Content Library lets you customize and streamline your operations.
  • Outdated relevancy – The Content Library helps you conduct periodic audits to keep content fresh and accurate.
  • Lack of trustworthy source – User permissions help ensure content reliability.
  • Inaccessibility – The RFPIO Content Library is open to any stakeholder in the company. RFPIO® LookUp provides access from any browser.
  • Lack of collaboration – Desiloing helps encourage collaboration.

Dynamic Content Library

Your company might send people to the moon, but your accumulated company knowledge is vital for your future. Knowledge hygiene, or ensuring your knowledge base is accurate, de-duplicated, and current, helps ensure that employees aren’t running around like proverbial headless chickens as they try to locate the tools to do their jobs. 

Easy Collaboration

Most company knowledge is hard to define as company knowledge since it exists inside people’s heads. RFPIO’s collaborative software facilitates sharing implicit and tacit information with tools to tap into experts’ minds. 

  • In-app mentions – Tag collaborative partners with a simple @mention, right inside the RFPIO app. 
  • Messaging app integrations – RFPIO seamlessly integrates with all the most popular messaging apps, such as Google Hangouts, Jira, Microsoft Teams, and Slack.
  • Task assignment capabilities – Assign tasks and track project status in real-time with advanced project management tools.
  • Eliminates the differences between formats – Whether your information is on a spreadsheet, a document, or a PDF file, RFPIO supports full searching and collaborative capabilities.

Integrations

We get that tech stacks sometimes grow out of control, and users having to check multiple apps throughout the day is a hassle. RFPIO seamlessly integrates with more than two dozen of the applications you already use. 

Discover how sales teams can benefit from a streamlined and effective modern tech stack

Additionally, RFPIO® LookUp allows for quick access to the most up-to-date information from any web-based software, such as Salesforce, Slack, Google Docs, etc. If you have a web browser, you can access RFPIO’s Content Library.

Manage smarter knowledge with internal knowledge base software

If your knowledge management system contains out-of-date or inaccurate information, is siloed inside departments or inaccessible applications, or if you don’t have a knowledge management system at all, schedule a free demo.

 

Get the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox

Subscribe to our blog and never miss an important insight again.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.