Winning the Business

SharePoint’s Place in the Toolkit

Embracing the positives — and expecting the challenges — can go a long way toward a more efficient workflow

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Every organization has various limitations (licensing, costs, and culture, to name a few) that may limit its ability to use a proposal development software tool. This is where SharePoint can shine! While SharePoint can be challenging at times (commence the audible groan), it can also be a valuable tool to champion for content management and proposal development. How can you develop a SharePoint site structured to serve the needs of your organization without your proposal professionals losing their minds in the process? Here are a few lessons learned, the hard way, that will make your life easier.

Site Creation

Become the expert. Not a SharePoint guru? A quick Google search will net a wealth of videos, from the basics to advanced functionality. How-to videos are a great way to gain an understanding of the differences and limitations of the various applications and structures. Inevitably you will become your team’s, and perhaps your firm’s, SharePoint expert—embrace that role.

Plan, plan, plan. Thinking through the multiple ways to structure content early in the process will save you the difficulty of having to convert formats later when they don’t serve the need of the target audience. Do you need a list or a document library? It’s also critical to be familiar with the content being stored and shared across teams.

Carefully consider site structure. Think about the overall site and subsite framework before developing anything. Where you need to go in five years isn’t where you are right now—from your team to the entire organization. Map it out. Also, soliciting input across the entire organization, from leadership to junior staff, ensures you get valuable insights and feedback on structure, while gaining buy-in across the organization.

Thinking through the multiple ways to structure content early in the process will save you the difficulty of having to convert formats later when they don’t serve the need of the target audience.

Site Ownership and Maintenance

Keep things fresh. Understand the site requires maintenance and is always evolving. Build in time for regular site refreshes and maintenance.

Focus on the user experience. Make the site intuitive for users outside your team. It sounds straightforward, but what makes sense to you may not to your broader audience. It’s okay to change and restructure as the tool is adopted more broadly, as long as a solid base structure is in place.

Remember: Simple is better. The more layers and permissions added, the more complex the site becomes. This requires more maintenance and time—time proposal professionals rarely have to spare.

Developing, implementing, and maintaining your new SharePoint site is only one piece of the puzzle. Remember that audible groan? It can’t be yours. Your voice should be one of positivity. SharePoint is not an intuitive Microsoft application, and most end users find themselves extremely frustrated at least once. That is where you come in. Become the SharePoint guru that staff members come to for help. Embrace the challenges while highlighting the key benefits of it as a proposal development tool. No tool is perfect. SharePoint has its limitations, but it can also save hours, if not days, during the proposal process with its simultaneous editing functionality. By embracing the positives and being ready for the negatives, SharePoint can be an important part of your proposal toolkit.


June Shelp is a proposal manager at Navigant, a Chicago-based management consulting firm. She can be reached at june.shelp@navigant.com.

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