In the world of business, answering requests for proposals (RFPs) is a consistent thing. Every RFP is a sales opening that can contribute to the growth of your business. The success of every proposal hinges on its performance. Hence, the practice of proposal management makes an important impact on the final result.
If you respond to RFPs while working, you already know that the process of proposal management requires a varied set of skills. Identifying and improving each skill can quickly help improve your proposal process and your success rate.
In this article, we will discover what is proposal management, who is responsible for that process, the key skills that need, and resources to help you along the way. With this material, you will become more efficient, effective, and successful as you manage the proposal process.
Proposal management – definition
Before we get into the skills required, let’s quickly describe what proposal management is. Proposal management is the process of supervision and facilitating the completion of a proposal. It includes things like planning the timeline, hitting send on the final proposal submission and everything in between.
Who is responsible for this?
Large organizations typically have a dedicated proposal team for proposal management. The proposal department in a company is led by a proposal manager. They work with a team consisting of proposal coordinators, graphic designers, and writers. Their only focus is fabricating successful proposals.
When it comes to small and mid-sized businesses, hiring a proposal manager is a luxury and that may not be within their budget. To fill the hole, proposal management responsibilities may fall to an individual in a variety of departments. In situations like this, the person responsible for proposal management may be covering the role out of requirement. However, it is not going to be their primary job function. Whom the RFP is assigned to and why varies from one business to another with reasons, mentioned above.
Common characters in the proposal management process
Salesperson — Since they always mingle with clients, they have the best visions and understanding of the potential client’s needs, they provide context that will help you to differentiate the proposal from others.
Members of the marketing team — These guys have deep knowledge of the business as well as the competitive market, and competitive companies. So they can present a proposal that looks more professional and stands out.
Business operations — They have close relationships with many different departments inside the company, which gives them the skill to coordinate with subject matter experts and have the prominence to big-picture business objectives
No matter what is the primary role, if you find yourself responsible for proposal management you will advantage from brushing up on several crucial skills. Explore these areas to become successful in proposal management and save time.
Crucial skills for effective proposal management
1. Project management skills
Project management is fundamental to an efficient and effective proposal process. The Project Management Institute (PMI) describes project management as “…the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” If you have formerly managed a proposal you can probably look back at the process you used and see the difference between the path you took and this definition. Whether you had an idea about it or not, you were doing project management.
The statistics about project management are remarkable. An estimated 77 percent of high-performing projects use project management software to manage their projects. While 97 percent of organizations have faith that project management is a must to business performance and success of an organization. You should apply project management principles to proposal management to see the difference and benefits.
Statistics of proposal management
There are five main steps in proposal project management:
In this step, you will receive and evaluate the RFP request and conduct a go/no go analysis.
In this step, you will outline the proposal process and all of the involved contributors, reviewers, and stakeholders.
In this step, you will find and reuse previous RFP answers and send updates and new questions to subject matter experts.
Monitor and control
In this step, you will track response progress, follow up for approvals, update stakeholders as needed.
In this final step, you will review and compile all elements, seek final approval and submit the completed proposal.
The process of proposal management needs a great deal of careful planning and facilitation. Coordinating between half a dozen departments, making sure none of the details are missed, and trying to meet a deadline can be overwhelming for you. But, using these five steps of project management can help make the proposal process more manageable than ever.
2. Knowledge management skills
There are high chances to be that you’re not the first person at your company to be tasked with responding to an RFP. Every proposal, past, and future, is a momentous business investment. The detailed research, business insights, and skillful storytelling that go into a proposal signify hours of work. But what happens to all that knowledge once the proposal has been submitted to the authorities?
The practice of knowledge management (KM) keeps treasured information from going to waste. Author, speaker, and KM pioneer, Tom Davenport, offered this summary of knowledge management, “Knowledge Management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.” Davenport gave that definition in 1994 and the practice of knowledge management has grown gradually since.
Statistics of knowledge management
Applying knowledge management to your proposal content can save hours and days of exhausting work. for proposal managers and SMEs similar. Subject matter experts trust you to ask the right questions, save that knowledge and use it again and again when needed. One sign that shows proposal management is being done well is that over time, SMEs will need to write fewer and fewer new answers. As the knowledge library grows, it is going to save even more time as common questions and answers are tagged, categorized, and continually updated to it. Knowledge management allows SMEs to focus on their day-to-day work when proposal content is easy to find and reusable.
In addition to refining efficiency, Knowledge Management protects your business from loss. For example, if one of your key stakeholders leaves the business, they take their knowledge with them — unless you’ve retained it in the knowledge library for future use. Then, when you’re ready to appoint new team members, they can find crucial information without wasting time.
Resources for knowledge management:
RFP360 for knowledge management —the RFP management software
This cloud-based software is designed specifically for the automation of the proposal knowledge management process. This platform makes it easy to collect, categorize, collaborate on and search for RFP answers within the knowledge library. It also captures data about who created the question, when it was last updated, and how many times it’s been used. RFP360 can integrate with CRM and other systems. It also offers knowledge extensions too. The extensions enable access to the knowledge library straight from Google Chrome, Firefox, and the Microsoft Suite.
Web-based style and grammar tools:
Grammarly software — Available as a free web app or a Chrome extension, Grammarly will offer you suggestions to fix spelling and grammatical errors in your documents.
ReadablePro software— With Readable, you can fast check your proposal’s readability, tone, and sentiment. It will also recognize passive voice, long sentences, and lines to avoid.
Skills that make you successful
Proposal management is a harmonizing act and time to focus on learning new skills is short. However, simply cultivating your consciousness of the skills proposal management requires will help you create more effective proposals and win more business. Luckily, project management, knowledge management, and content editing skills are almost commonly useful. So, spending time improving those skills will serve you well no matter how many proposals you manage.
As CodeHub, we do proposal management for any kind of business. We are here to help you.