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Implementing a proposal automation software program brings a set of veritable challenges and opportunities to your proposal team. Recently, our company deployed a proposal software program. From both our setbacks and successes, we have devised the following do’s and don’ts to help your team develop a winning implementation strategy.
Find the right balance between customization and standardization. A new software program provides your proposal team the chance to revamp and revise your current proposal process. Aligning the process in lockstep with the proposal automation software, though, should be done with caution. There may be processes that can be streamlined and standardized through the software, such as reviewing and editing content; however, there may be other aspects of your process—such as compliance, pricing, or branding—that cannot and should not be integrated.
Outline specific use cases for the software and the associated user roles and responsibilities. We have devised explicit uses for the software: first, a repository of the most up-to-date content; second, a standard template that is used as a starting point for all proposals. In addition, we have clearly delineated roles for our users: proposal writer, project manager, subject matter expert, content manager, and system administrator. Each user knows how the software fits into his or her everyday workflow.
Devote the appropriate time and resources to effective training of users. Some users will prefer in-person, hands-on training; others will prefer learning through online tutorials or videos. Make all options available to your users during implementation. After training is complete, expect the first few proposals through the automation software to be challenging. Have a dedicated person devoted to follow-up and technical questions.
After training is complete, expect the first few proposals through the automation software to be challenging. Have a dedicated person devoted to follow-up and technical questions.
Don’t focus on early adoption rate or usage statistics. You will have a select few users, the innovators, who will jump at the chance to learn the new software, discovering the valuable ways in which it can help their overall processes. For the users that drag their feet, the laggards, respect their processes but continue to direct them to the software. If possible, show them how co-workers have benefitted from making the change.
Don’t expect the software to change human behavior or resolve all bottlenecks. Remember that you are implementing a proposal automation tool, not changing lives. It is quite easy to blame the software for every problem that you face. Do not allow the software to become the enemy. To avoid this, set clear implementation milestones and measurable benchmarks for your success. If your goal is to create a great repository of content, associate achievable numbers and dates with this goal.
Don’t presume the software will replace your duty as a writer to edit and finalize the proposal. Proposal automation tools are not designed to give you a finished product. Crafting a winning, persuasive proposal requires custom flair and tailoring for each customer. Luckily, proposal automation software has not developed that capability—at least, not yet. Thus, set the expectation early that the software automation tool will provide a first draft, not a finalized proposal.
In summation, a good implementation strategy should be agile enough to not only achieve tangible milestones but also adapt to necessary changes along the way. Keep expectations realistic and your rollout manageable. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver on the proposal software’s capabilities or performance. Lastly, remember that integrating a new software program into your existing workflow processes will continually require re-examination and fine-tuning. By following these do’s and don’ts, you will be well on your way to a successful implementation.