As a proposal professional, you have likely contemplated two key questions:
- How can my team be more productive when responding to RFPs?
- How can we collaborate more efficiently so that it doesn’t feel like a fire drill every time?
Putting together your RFP responses doesn’t have to be this stressful. In fact, you can create an organised, consistent workflow that comes with very few surprises – that’s if you have an effective proposal process in place.
What is a proposal process?
A proposal process is a workflow that clarifies roles, responsibilities, and timelines for developing a proposal and submitting it to the RFP issuer on-time. The process starts with the decision to bid on the RFP and ends with proposal production and delivery. The steps in between are wide-ranging and may include a kick-off meeting, issuing writing assignments, color team reviews, multiple rounds of changes, and approvals.
How effective is your proposal process?
First of all, do you have a proposal process in place? Many teams don’t have standard RFP response procedures, and they work individually, doing their best to finish responses before the deadline. However, there is little to no communication between team members, and, as a result, confusion around who is taking on which steps or sections.
Maybe you have a proposal process in place, but you feel that it could be improved. If you’re less than satisfied with your current process, you’re not alone. According to a recent report:
• Fewer than 50% of teams reported being satisfied with their RFP response function.
• Even with a dedicated RFP process owner, satisfaction levels increased to just 60%.
• Almost 70% of associates, team leaders, and managers reported losing time to repetitive, manual RFP tasks. (You can reduce the time you spend on copying and pasting content and formatting documents by using a proposal template. Download our free proposal template for Microsoft Word.)
• Respondants listed the following as top challenges in the RFP process: finding accurate answers to questions quickly, collaborating with subject matter experts (SMEs), selecting the best answer from a group, and manually formatting responses.
• Nearly 30% of companies surveyed cited implementing a smoother response process as an action they will take to win more RFPs in 2021.
How to improve your proposal process
By following certain best practices, you can improve your proposal process. And, when your process is more organised and streamlined, you are more likely to win RFPs. The key steps to take to make your proposal process superefficient include:
1. Define roles, responsibilities, and deadlines
Ensure that everyone on your team understands exactly what they are supposed to be doing and when their tasks are due. Also, since employees from other departments are likely to be involved, clear, timely communication is vital. You may even want to consider a color-coded system to implement more structure across teams.
2. Eliminate non-essential tasks
Once each person on your team knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing, make sure they don’t get bogged down with tasks that could be easily automated. For example, once the RFP is completed, find a print-on-demand partner like Mimeo who will produce your hard copy RFPs overnight and deliver them as soon as 8 AM the next morning. Learn more.
3. Aim for consistency and avoid mistakes
Put a specific process in place for double and triple-checking your proposal before submitting it. By using a simple RFP checklist, you can avoid major offenses, like incomplete responses, typos and misspelled names, and poor grammar, that will likely get your proposal thrown into the rejection pile. Download our free RFP checklist.
4. Hold debriefs
Rather than immediately moving on to the next RFP, hold debrief meetings. You will ensure that you don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over. We recommend that proposal teams have two debrief meetings – one immediately after submitting the proposal and a second after finding out whether or not you won the RFP. (Read the article, Increase Team Productivity to Win More RFPs, to learn more about this and other proposal process improvement tips.)
So, how effective is your current proposal process? Let’s measure just how organised or chaotic your team is when putting together an RFP response – take our quiz.
Mimeo has been helping proposal teams deliver high-quality RFP responses on time, every time for the last 20 years. You can count on us to print and deliver professional proposals that stand out from the rest – as early as the next morning. Explore our proposal printing services.