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Bid teams are in a unique position to take the lead on digitalization. By focusing on the output you deliver, you can work your way backwards, identifying and leading your allies, convincing the gatekeepers and succeeding in working faster and smarter and more happily.
The most common artefact or output a bid team produces is a proposal document. Often, this document will capture both the essence and the facts and details of your organization. Every process and asset in your company is ultimately pulled together and will make up different parts of the proposal. Presentation, messaging, case studies, compliance and processes, skills and experience, sustainability efforts, core business models and the products and services you provide, can all play a part and contribute to the final proposal documents you produce. It’s likely that no one else in your organization is compiling this information with the level of detail and external focus that bid teams do.
This knowledge is valuable to bring into a digitalization effort. Without the focus on external presentation and level of detail, other digitalization efforts in your organization might prove worthwhile from an internal perspective but will ultimately fall short from a holistic and external perspective, resulting in duplicate efforts to digitalize the same processes and data, less integrated systems and increased reliance on “shadow IT” to get the job done in practice.
Start With the Output and Work Backwards
Start identifying the output and external facing assets you produce. Take note of special requirements such as:
Then start working your way backwards by asking where the data or assets you need originate. Work your way through the organization, making notes of:
- Input sources
You will most likely find that while some of this is created by the bid team, much will be dependent on other parts of the business. Ultimately, you might find yourself looking deep into existing workflows and processes involving multiple parts of your business.
Bid vs. Organization
Based on the research above, you can now make a conscious and informed decision on whether you want to improve a part of your business you control yourself or whether improving things will require support and collaboration with wider parts of your organization. There are pros and cons to both approaches. When you do it alone, the pros may include faster decision-making and limited scope. The cons, though, could include limited budget, possibly limited impact and the potential to conflict with other initiatives from other departments.
You might find that in order to make a true and lasting impact with a digitization initiative, you will need some allies from other parts of the organization, as well as approval from certain gatekeepers. While this will vary from organization to organization, there are some typical allies and gatekeepers you are likely to meet.
Bridging the gap between bids and sales has been a topic at several APMP conferences. There is sometimes much overlap between the two, but there are also differences in the rhythm of work, the attention to detail, etc., that might mean that while you can have overlapping requirements for a tool or system, there can be subtle or larger differences in use cases that can be important to map out. Prepare your 10-second elevator pitch to get sales on-board as they’re likely to be between multiple sales meetings when you get hold of them to discuss.
Tooling: CRM is the arena for the sales department. Be prepared to integrate your efforts with their preferred CRM system, but be aware of the urge to make the tool do things outside its comfort zone.
Marketing and bid teams are likely to have overlapping preference for visual perfection, however, for slightly different contexts and level of detail. Whether you have overlapping requirements when it comes to capturing case studies or streamlining presentation decks, there are good reasons to align your digital efforts with the marketing department.
Tooling: Branding and templating tools or lead generation tools are likely to be part of the marketing tech stack. Be prepared to integrate or align workflows to how these tools work, while considering the specific needs you might have on top of this.
Depending on your digitalization case, you might find other allies in your organization. If it involves experience and skills of employees, you are going to eventually have to talk to HR. Many businesses also have business development or chief digitalization officers that could be willing to help and/or already have some initiatives going that you could join, but also consider expanding and/or challenging.
Tooling: HRM suites are likely to be the tool of choice for HR. These typically come with several modules and expansion possibilities, but similar to how the CRM suites are the tools of choice for sales, you might find that you cannot solve your specific needs with these tools either.
There are a set of further stakeholders that, depending on your specific case, might be seen as either allies or gatekeepers. There are ways to make sure they become your allies and not blockers to your efforts.
Make sure you align your effort with the high-level goals and strategy of the company or else you might find it difficult to get the approval and budgets you need.
When it comes to getting approval from IT, it is important to do your homework upfront. In particular, security will be important to them, but there are also other common goals you could try to align with:
- Reduce shadow IT
- Replace legacy systems (so they can be shut down)
- Integration into existing portfolio (that doesn’t require too much work from IT)
- Support or enable IT’s future roadmap
Don’t forget your legal or compliance department. Make sure you align with their goals of getting control over personal data and any confidential information.
What we observe as a vendor is that organizations are at different stages or levels in terms of digital maturity. Some might have files in a file-share, and some already have structured data flowing between systems and focus on integrations and interoperability immediately.
This will have an impact on where you should start your efforts and how advanced your approach should be, so it is important to reflect on this and not use it as an excuse to halt moving forward.
Erling Linde is the CEO at CV Partner.
This thought leadership article was sponsored by CV Partner.
CV Partner is a best-of-breed proposal automation solution that enables your organization to work in a new and better way when tailoring CVs and case studies for public tenders, bids and proposals. Our clients report they save at least 50% of the time compared to their old way of working, allowing them to deliver and potentially win more bids than before.