Do we need dedicated staff to run proposal software?Question by: Sean
We’re a rapidly growing company, and don’t have a dedicated function or person responsible for responding to RFIs and creating proposals, nor do we have the budget for that right now. Would you recommend proposal software to a company like ours? Or would you recommend we staff up for this first? Where should we start?
Great question! With the right software, backed by the right implementation support, I would say that there’s no need to ‘staff up’ an entire department before you can reap the benefits of proposal software.
The right software
In the absence of a dedicated proposal management function in your company, the right proposal software for you would be one that checks the following boxes:
- Simple to administer and manage, so that a few individual power users from different teams in the company can share the responsibility for implementation decisions and configuring the software the right way for your business
- Easy to use for the average business user, with no steep learning curve or highly specialized knowledge required – otherwise you won’t see great adoption
- Flexible and scalable, as you’ll want a solution that can easily evolve and keep up with the changing demands of your rapidly growing business
- Designed to fit into your current technology stack and business processes – unless these are not working so well for you, and you’d like to take the opportunity to re-design the way you work
The right implementation support
As with any software implementation, setting up proposal software will take time and effort initially. If you have someone available to advise you on best practices along the way, that certainly wouldn’t hurt – but it doesn’t have to be someone full-time. A software vendor offering a great Customer Success and Onboarding program to guide may be enough, or you could hire an experienced outside consultant.
Where to begin your evaluation
Good proposal software will offer a blend of features that span the breadth of content management, proposal automation, collaboration, and bid management functionality. When you compare them, you’ll find that some will be stronger in some areas relative to others.
If your biggest pain point is the time it takes to create consistent and accurate RFI responses, proposals, and sales pitches, then I would recommend prioritizing proposal automation capabilities, like templates, and AI-enabled auto answer suggestions that can get you to draft very quickly. If the issue is that it takes too long to find documents to respond to client requests, then focus on comparing the search and content management capabilities when you evaluate the solutions available out there.
My advice would be to do a bit of analysis from a business perspective first. For example, determine how long it takes today to respond to an RFI or create a proposal and then figure out where the bottlenecks and frustrations are in the process. Once you have those, you can draw up a list of requirements, prioritize them in order of impact, and start your software evaluation.
Regardless of whether you decide to hire an outside consultant to help with the implementation, you’ll still want to make sure you’re choosing a vendor who offers great support. One way to find out if that’s the case is to check out independently verified reviews, which you can find on G2 and Capterra, and ask for a reference client you can have a candid conversation with.
It’s tempting to jump straight into the technology piece – but proposal software is not a silver bullet that will magically solve all problems. If you have a clear picture of the business side of the equation first, then you’ll be in a much better position to select the right technology.
Hope this helps!