Improving RFx response outcomes through automation, advanced content management, and winning trust from all users.
Health insurance is one of the most established industries in the U.S. With an ever-changing regulatory environment and evolving healthcare challenges, agile and prompt response processes are critical to insurance companies’ business models.
Despite being well-versed in building complex business relationships, one large regional nonprofit health insurance provider struggled with slow, siloed response management processes.
For years, they had been using requests for proposals (RFPs) as an essential business development strategy. For commercial and government bids, they used old RFP software that was universally despised and not at all user-friendly. Additionally, content could not be shared, and there was no transparency.
The proposal manager for the company recalled one instance where a subject matter expert (SME) was reviewing an answer and asked, “Who said this?” After too much time spent digging through past email chains to track down the source, the manager discovered that the source of the original answer was the very same SME.
Overall, the old RFP response system simply wasn’t working. Even though they were implementing best practices, it wasn’t getting at the root cause of what was happening and wasn’t addressing the pain points that RFP coordinators were seeing. The manager said, “When we took a holistic look at our entire process, we knew we needed to do something different. We had to change how we looked at RFPs from the culture side. And we had to change the technical side—the process.”
Sales departments complained about the system’s inefficiency. Everyone involved in the RFP process worked in a silo and had no idea what was happening elsewhere in the organization. The only way for sales to stay up to date on an RFP was to ask the proposal team to send over the most recent version.
SMEs—also working in silos—would send information to the proposal team, where it would vanish into a black hole. Because they couldn’t access in real-time any progress made on RFPs, they couldn’t know how the RFP response ended, whether it was successful, or whether the right content and messaging were being used.
There was no feedback in any direction. Email chains were too big and unmanageable—and usually got lost among the hundreds of emails everyone received every day. Requests to provide the same information over and over again were commonplace.
Solution: Automate to improve the user experience organization-wide
At the end of 2018, the manager realized it was time to take the company’s RFP response process to the next level and their current RFP software wasn’t going to solve their problems.
Initially, her primary goals were to automate the RFP response process and enable a more user-friendly experience for the proposal team, sales, and SMEs. After learning more about RFPIO’s functionality, she discovered many other ways the platform could improve systems within her organization.
Of RFPIO’s many applications at this health insurance company, perhaps the most shocking is that first drafts of requests for information (RFIs) that once took as many as five days to complete now take just a few hours. That was just one of the many unexpected benefits.
By bringing in RFPIO, the health insurance company improved their RFP response process with:
- Content Management: They removed the proposal team as the “middleman” for content creation, review, and management. RFPIO enables SMEs to own their respective content; they now use the correct content version every time.
- Intuitive Workflow: RFPIO is designed to be a response platform. Features such as the Content Library are flexible and adaptable. In this case, the Content Library adapted to how the health insurance industry thinks. For example, sometimes, a question requires a different response depending on who’s asking and in what context. RFPIO leverages AI to make response management intuitive and seamless.
- Import/Export: Now, they can easily upload questionnaires into RFPIO and then download responses in their own branded templates.
- Collaboration Tools: All communication for each RFP is captured and acted upon within RFPIO. Even if an SME or salesperson responds via email, RFPIO logs the response. There are no more long email chains, no more lost version control, and no more inefficient reviews. An added benefit is that SMEs can learn from each other. As they review other comments from all departments involved with the RFP, they can gain new perspectives on their own responses.
- Sophisticated Tracking & Reporting: RFPIO tracks and monitors all content and communication related to each project and allows any user to check the project status. The platform automatically creates a log of all discussions, comments, and content.
- Salesforce Integration: RFPIO Salesforce integration enables the organization to launch RFPIO projects, track progress in real-time and at every level, and submit bids directly from Salesforce.
RFPs were just the beginning: RFP software also helps with RFI response and content management
“When we realized we could finish the first draft of an RFI in hours rather than days, it was like the clouds parted and the angels sang.”
The company rolled out RFPIO in September 2019, intending the entire focus of the platform to be on RFPs. However, January 2020 marked the beginning of their RFI season. After the first few started trickling in, they decided to try putting the RFIs into RFPIO.
“We realized that RFPIO is brilliant for automating RFI response,” said the company’s proposal manager.
RFIs involve hundreds of questions and must be completed at least annually, sometimes multiple times a year. Rarely are there any changes from one RFI to the next. Most new RFI data are updates, built on the idea of review and update.
When an 817-question RFI arrived one day at 11:30 a.m. and was in the SME’s hands for review by the end of that same day, the manager was ecstatic. “When we realized we could finish the first draft of an RFI in hours rather than days, it was like the clouds parted and the angels sang.”
Another RFPIO use case included managing content related to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. From the beginning of the pandemic, there was confusion, constantly changing content, and breakthroughs about testing, treatment, and vaccinations. Brokers and employer groups needed regular updates on how to handle all of this new information.
To help ensure the health insurance company maintained consistency in messaging both internally and externally, they developed a COVID-specific content collection in RFPIO. The collection enabled the company to track whether something had been reviewed, was ready to publish, or had already been published.
It also helped them keep up with constant updates to content that SMEs owned and could share company-wide, avoiding any missteps such as publishing May 2020 messaging, despite a June 2020 update. The collection allows the company to update in real-time as talking points change.
“I tell people when I’m training them that you can’t break RFPIO, and it tracks everything,” the proposal manager said. “That gave people the comfort and freedom to get creative with the platform.”
The health insurance company continues to expand its RFPIO collections. Recently, they built one for their provider team to track their responses for health systems. Another separate line of business has its own unique collection because it’s not quoted very often. The RFPIO collection provides access to content and assigns owners for updates and tracking.
Content transparency starts with unlimited user access
With their old system, the company had to purchase hundreds of licenses to give salespeople and SMEs access to the platform.“To pay that just to give people access, it wasn’t a good way of going about it,” they said.
With RFPIO, everyone can have access without needing to purchase individual licenses. And everyone does have access—beyond the proposal team. Underwriters, sales, SMEs, and security all use RFPIO. The more it’s used, the more other departments want to take advantage of its capabilities.
“For us, it’s really gone beyond just responding to RFPs. It’s using it to collaborate and track and respond to the market,” the manager said. “The more we use it, the more I hear, ‘Hey, it would be great if we could use RFPIO for this.’”
Are you ready to respond to RFPs faster and gain control of your content? Get started by scheduling a demo today.
Due to privacy and confidentiality restrictions, RFPIO is not disclosing the company name or the names of interviewed case study participants.