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How Proposal Automation Streamlines the Government Proposal Process

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Like most everything we do, we cannot turn on autopilot to finish the race. As we are running, we see things that we need to adjust or improve to keep us on course. We cannot lose sight of the finish line. In Business Development, we need to adjust and improve as our process matures. That is, we need to learn new techniques and conserve time and resources so we can win government contracts.

Make Adjustments to Perfect Your Process

We make adjustments or corrections every day in our personal and work life – maybe without realizing it. It is not a bad thing to decide that you need to change something. For example, is it difficult to get color-team reviewers to review an entire 100-page volume in a few days? Try decreasing the number of sections for each reviewer, adding additional reviewers, or reviewing half of it one week and the other half the next. Do what you need to do to adjust your actions and keep the proposal on course.

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Does your company have a storyboard proposal process that they have used successfully for years but now does not seem to help the process? Try reviewing the pros and cons of the process to see if you can find a solution that will get you the desired results in a different way.

Could you change to an interview process to get technical experts to provide the needed inputs? This may need to be done mid-proposal to ensure that you can meet the deadlines and get the needed participation from all your team members.

If your stand-up meetings are not beneficial, then try canceling them and finding a strategy that will work for your team. Teams and managers may have to adjust to new BD personnel, changing skill levels, decreased in-person availability, more virtual inputs, and fewer personnel resources. So, be open and ready to try something new if the old way isn't working.

Improve and Automate

In BD, we can adjust and improve throughout the process. One improvement is to automate manual processes to help us get to the finish line more quickly. Cutting and pasting in Microsoft Word and Excel creates opportunities for errors – errors which someone, probably the Proposal Manager, will have to uncover and correct later in the Proposal Phase. This requires spending valuable time tracking down errors when everyone needs to be focused on improving the content. Not every proposal automation tool available will be beneficial for your business development team. So, find tools that do one or more of the following:

  • Helps you accomplish tasks more quickly

  • Keeps the team up-to-date

  • Provides real-time status

  • Increases collaboration

  • Maintains document control and security

  • Reduces emails

  • Enhances meetings

  • Simplifies your life

  • Requires a small learning curve

 

Improve – Leverage Existing Technology

Almost all proposals are developed in Microsoft Word, which has powerful capabilities! The Proposal Manager can determine review format and use Microsoft 365 to leverage Word’s co-authoring and collaboration features. To ensure a smooth review and incorporate suggestions into writer packages, do not allow any reviewer to review a hardcopy.

Read the blog post 'Commit to the Team' for further discussion of Microsoft 365 and the review process.

As part of the proposal guide, Proposal Managers can create custom templates that fit a specific style guide and required RFP format. Create the template before writing assignments are made so that future documents based on that template will be accurate. Microsoft has great tutorials for creating a custom template.

  • ProTip: Dick Eassom, CF.APMP Fellow, is Wordman and shares incredible information, tools, and tutorials on understanding and getting the most from Microsoft Word. Check out his website for more information.

Simply adjust the template for RFP required margins and font sizes, then customize the styles, add page numbers, a disclaimer statement, a volume name and number, a solicitation number, and your logo. There you have it: a fully customized Microsoft Word template in minutes.

After you have a customized template, you can create customized documents for each volume. To further simplify formatting and editing, chose "Restrict Editing," which allows the document originator to control formatting and editing restrictions. This mean that writers cannot corrupt the template with styles from their own normal.dotm Word templates.

When writers or reviewers cut and paste or type new narrative in your document, they cannot introduce new styles, which saves you a lot of time. Problems can arise when styles get imported from every writer and reviewer’s template. It is really helpful to get this aspect under control before the first template ever goes out to writers. Full instructions on this process are in OneTeam's free eBook download.

 

This is the 9th in a 12-part series Get More from 24 Hours. This series is based on the eBook Get More From 24 Hours in a Day and Win More Government Contracts, which contains the entire series with additional bonus content and tutorials. The eBook is evolved from a presentation at APMP's International Bid & Proposal Con 2021, given by OneTeam's Product Manager, Donna Hamby. Download your free copy of the eBook.

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OneTeam  is a complete, secure, cloud-based collaboration platform for GovCons to track, qualify, capture, propose and win more contracts with fewer resources by streamlining and automating processes. OneTeam was designed and developed by a federal government contractor to address the lack of resources and time, as well as the pain associated with winning government contracts.

 

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