Reviewing Proposals in a Virtual Environment

The Case for an Online Document Review and Collaboration System

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Creating a business-winning proposal can be a complex and time-consuming process. In a competitive market where you are vying for the attention of a potential client with a number of other companies, your proposal needs to stand out, be professional, of the highest quality and submitted on time.

Winning business is hard work. Not only is it technically difficult, but it is resource intensive, requiring input from many people over a long period of time. Most complex proposals these days center around a document or set of documents. Using a real-time document collaboration and review product can transform rigid, traditional methods of proposal development into a more flexible and collaborative way of working for better results. This is particularly relevant in the current climate where businesses all over the world are navigating working amid a global pandemic.

Traditional methods of managing proposals follow a linear structure, in a way similar to the “waterfall” methodology used in software development. The document may be sent around to your team, everyone looking at it individually. Maybe you get a few people emailing their initial thoughts back; some may have added comments in track changes. Others might have just emailed comments. As the proposal owner, you have the task of consolidating and then relaying all of this information in a review meeting so that you can make a decision about what to do and who needs to be involved in the next stage of the process.

Creating and reviewing the proposal creates more challenges. The team required to work on this proposal may require many people with differing responsibilities, from different teams, in different divisions and in different locations.

Agile proposal development takes a flexible approach, focusing on collaboration and how the individual proposal team members work together to produce the proposal. A popular way of doing this is using the “scrum” framework. This involves working in sprints, splitting up tasks over short periods of time, in a similar manner to approaching the management of other projects.

In this type of approach, each person on the proposal team is given a role such as proposal manager, proposal writer and customer representative to ensure that the necessary input is given, and the project keeps moving forward. Technology and the various tools it provides access to has made this type of working evolve.

Software tools are key to facilitating an agile approach to proposal management. With many workforces now working remotely, software solutions become necessary as a replacement for face-to-face meetings, streamlining the number of emails going back and forth about a single project. Proposal management software brings everything into one place so you can focus on the proposal itself.

A robust document collaboration solution provides secure and easy access to the real-time document in progress. Documents are uploaded to the software and the tasks identified within a sprint can be assigned to the relevant stakeholders with a deadline attached. An automated email goes out to invite participants to contribute to and review the proposal. As the proposal manager, you will have real-time visibility over who has or has not reviewed the document before implementing these changes and moving on to the next sprint task.

Reviewers and stakeholders can work on the same document in real-time, without creating any conflicting versions or overriding changes. All discussion is captured in a single place, and the next review meeting can move straight onto new actions. Everything is saved as a suggested edit for the document owner to review and implement where appropriate. Eliminating time-consuming administrative tasks simplifies the agile approach, paving the way for more productive collaboration. The document quickly moves toward completion; there is no unnecessary email traffic; and the proposal owner spends no time consolidating different versions, worrying about incorrect formatting or chasing people because the automated reminders keep reviewers on track. Once completed and approved, the document owner can download the document into the required format.

Using agile document collaboration solutions, businesses have cut review times by more than 65% and cut costs by 35% compared to their previous review process.

Mark Habgood, product manager for PleaseReview, is an experienced product management professional with experience in the telecommunications, media and technology sectors. Educated at the University of Nottingham and the University of Bradford School of Management, he gained his experience working across organizations such as BT, Siemens, Marconi, PA Media and ESA.

This thought leadership article was sponsored by Ideagen.

Ideagen’s PleaseReview software offers brands a secure web-based environment for real-time collaborative document review, co-authoring and redaction across groups, technologies and geographies, enabling you to control and manage all aspects of document collaboration, that improves operational performance, productivity and efficiency.

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