PSOs thrive on proposals. Your business needs a steady stream of requests for proposals in order to keep projects coming in and everyone busy. But the RFP process itself can be time-consuming if it is not done in a structured way. Here’s where proposal automation comes in. Proposal automation increases efficiency by creating a library of content to drop into your proposals. Your sales managers have instant access to the answers they need, and a simple way to collaborate on proposals with the experts who can help.
That sounds great for front-end sales teams, but how does proposal automation support project management? Here are three benefits for project teams of automating the process of proposals.
1. Proposal automation helps with business workflow
The first thing to mention is that proposal automation helps with business workflow overall. The key benefits of proposal automation are:
- You can save time responding to a RFP by drawing answers from a knowledge repository.
- You free up time from your experienced subject matter experts, allowing them to spend more time doing value-added work instead of reviewing RFP content – especially as we often hear that expert sources are asked several times to provide the same information.
- Your RFP managers are able to get on with adding value to proposals, tailoring them to clients and improving the quality of the output – instead of chasing down answers hours before the deadline.
All of that ensures your PSO is geared up to support project delivery and spend as much time on it as possible.
2. Proposal automation helps manage customer expectations
We’ve all heard stories about sales people who promised the earth and then it was down to the project team to deliver – if they could. Unfortunately, clients on the receiving end of less than they expected are unlikely to become repeat customers. Managing client expectations is crucial if you want to start your relationship on a trusted footing. Nothing says “we don’t care about you” than failing to deliver what you promised.
For a project manager, it’s awkward to meet a new customer knowing that you are going to struggle to deliver what they are expecting. It isn’t a great way to start a new relationship and you already feel like you are letting them down. Project managers tend to be people who like to get things done, and if you’ve been set up to deliver something that can’t be done, that’s a morale-sucking situation to be in before you’ve even started to draw up detailed plans. Proposal automation might not sound like an obvious solution to this, but it can help with managing customer expectations.
First, the right data makes it into the proposal. As we saw above, subject matter experts have provided their responses and approved them, so the right data is available. There are no more last minute rushes trying to get something – anything – to fill in a question without the proper information. Your data is better because you have access to what you need and more time to complete the RFP. Therefore, you’re more likely to present a realistic view of what your company can achieve for the client. Expectations are managed from the beginning.
Second, proposal automation changes the way your business thinks about proposals and proposal prep. Within days of implementing automation, you have elevated the way proposals are managed and completed. The discussion around proposals has changed from the poor RFP manager begging for some resource time to answer questions to a mature and structured way of tracking and completing proposals. The link between proposal and project becomes clearer. People are left with no doubt about how important proposals are. In itself, that has an inherent – if not always obvious – implication for the quality of your proposals and hence on customer expectations.
Third, customers who need it have reassurance about your adherence to governance standards. Where you have to meet compliance requirements, such as HIPAA/HITECH, FCPA or any other regulation, you can document content review and approval through automated workflows. That gives you a bulletproof audit trail of who signed off what and when, and provides confidence to clients. There is no risk that a proposal makes it out to a client without the proper approvals. This instantly gives your proposal greater credibility and improves client confidence.
3.Supporting Project and Resource Managers
Better proposals (and more wins) has an impact on project management and delivery teams too. Proposal automation brings with it a completely transparent view of proposal success. These improved analytics give your teams a better ability to predict which bids will win and which will be unlikely to make the final selection. That can give resource managers clues about the business’ upcoming resource needs. You can’t do too much planning without a firm “yes” from the client, but improved analytics and better proposals overall are going to give you some hints about what you should be planning for.
Resource managers can take a longer-term view of the possible resource requirements for the future. Even if you aren’t sure exactly what proposals will be won, you can estimate the general type of proposal and volume more accurately based on past performance and analytics. Project managers benefit too. Typically, they have a number of specialist resources in the team: people who are called upon time and time again to answer lengthy questions or dive into data to support a new RFP. Time spend doing this – while valuable to the business overall – eats away at their scheduled time to work on a project.
The less time that subject matter experts have to spend supporting the proposal process, the more time they have available to do billable project work. Project managers can schedule team members more efficiently, knowing that they don’t have to mentally calculate the amount of time a resource will be away from the project doing support work for RFP managers.
Proposal automation streamlines the task of responding to RFPs. In a survey of organizations using proposal automation software 55% of users reported that automation sped up the proposal process by at least 50%. Can you afford not to investigate proposal automation? The benefits for project teams and resource managers are clear.
For more information on whether proposal automation is right for you, download our white paper on the five signs your organization needs to automate your RFP process.