When I started working for an RFP software company I wasn't from the industry, so I really had no idea what Proposal Management software was, or how it was supposed to make life easier.
So I did what I always do, I Googled it. My results were cryptic one-sentence description and a bunch of paid ads. The truth was, no one on the interwebs seemed to do a good job of explaining it.
Turns out I wasn't the only one who was confused. I started to talking to proposal writers -- you know people who should know all about digital solutions for their job. And was surprised to find out that half of them had no idea software for responding to RFPs even existed. And the other half still weren't sure what it was supposed to do.
Sound familiar? We wrote this eBook is for you.
What Any Proposal Management Software Should Do
My guess is you're reading this because you're part of the latter group. You've heard of RFP software, and are wondering if it really works. The problem is, like anyone new to a product, you may not "know what you don't know."
Luckily, we do. But don't worry, we won't pitch you. If you want to learn more about our solution you can do that here, and we'll leave it at that.
Whatever Proposal Management System you choose, here are the 3 things it should do.
See the breakdown and the details in our straightforward eBook What is Proposal Management Software?
Each platform has its own specialties and unique features, but whatever you choose, make sure it helps you:
- Bring writers together in a single, real-time version (gets rid of endless emails)
- Helps you track tasks and proposal progress
- Makes it easy to find and reuse past responses
What's Wrong With Excel and Word for RFPs?
I think most proposal writers stick with traditional RFP tools (Excel, Word, Email), not because they really work, but they think they don't know they have another option. Don't get me wrong, they're great tools. But if you do 25+ RFPs a years and have more than 2-3 people working on proposals, they just don't cut it.
1. They're not designed for the RFP process
These are great task and time management tools, but not actual RFP software. We've just hacked, and jimmy-rigged them to make them work.
Meaning you probably have to cobble together multiple tools for your proposals -- one tool for writing and storage: like Microsoft Word & Excel, or Shared Drives. Then you have another for questions and communication like email. And you probably also have a task management system like Asana, or a big hodgepodge of calendar reminders.
This is a problem because:
- You end up with scattered versions
- You can't tell who wrote what and you can't tell when it was last updated
- Which makes ensuring quality and accuracy extremely difficult
- You're constantly having to toggle between tools
These manual processes means it takes too long to find what you need and you don't have a single source of the truth.
2. They're not centralized
Because the tools aren't centralized, they keep knowledge and tasks segregated. Which isn't efficient because proposal writing is 50% knowledge management/creation and 50% task management. It really makes no sense to divorce them.
Not only does it silo writers, but communication quickly gets reduced to confusing email strings and spammed inboxes.
3. They're not dynamic
These tools might store your data, but they don't interpret it or leverage it. They don't make it easy for you to organize, categorize and search for specific pieces of information and verbiage. They don't analyze trends or prompt you to refresh old information. They're the electronic equivalent of a dusty shelf. Bottom line, there's a better way to create your RFP responses.
- A simple explanation of what RFP Responding software is
- What it’s not
- How to figure out if you even need it
- And where to go next
If you're ready to start looking around, check out these tips on questions to ask as you shop.
[Editor's note: this was originally published 2/15/17 but has been updated for relevancy and clarity.]