4 RFP response collaboration tactics for the savvy SME

Written by
Britt Skrabanek
Britt Skrabanek
Updated on
  6 min read

Enterprise collaboration continues to be a popular topic for businesses in constant pursuit of increased efficiencies. An RFP response process is only as good as the people behind it—of all the contributors, the subject matter expert (SME) plays one of the most important roles. Increasing efficiency is a dream every proposal management team would love to see come true.

It all comes down to focusing on the collaboration factor. In our recent Facebook survey, we were curious whether our audience of RFP responders thought collaboration or processes affected team productivity the most. Effective collaboration was the clear winner.

collaboration during rfp process
We know effective collaboration is ultimately the key to a successful RFP response process. But, how do we achieve that? As an SME, you’ve likely explored a fair amount of solutions to find the answer—and you’re on the right track.

RFPIO’s CEO, Ganesh Shankar, stopped by the Smartsheet blog to discuss enterprise collaboration software and shared these tips for selecting the right solution:“When choosing enterprise collaboration software, there are a few basic requirements that I look for—I think all of these use cases must be met in order for the app to be a useful EC tool…

  • Does the functionality allow for collaboration outside of standalone documents and email threads?
  • Does the licensing structure allow for a growing number of users?
  • How easy will it be to gain user adoption among disparate teams?”

RFP software arrived on the technology scene to offer a single solution for teams navigating the complexities of responding to RFPs. It’s the whole enchilada: enterprise collaboration software, project management software, AND content management software.

We are champions of better RFP response collaboration at RFPIO, because we believe this is the heart and soul of the best RFP response processes. Here are 4 RFPIO features that dramatically improve collaboration, so SMEs can happily contribute their expertise and move on with their day.

“EC software can only be successful if there are primary adopters who are evangelists of these technologies across the organization. Then, it should also scale to other users without any barriers. It is not an enterprise collaborative platform if the users do not adopt it.” – Ganesh Shankar, RFPIO on Smartsheet

RFP collaboration tactic #1: Reviewer workflow

A winning RFP response is one that has been crafted with care. This is why your expertise is called in at the front and back of the content creation process. The review workflow is a mess when teams are working with a manual process, since multiple people are involved in a single response.

“Distribution of collaborative work is often extremely lopsided. In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees,” according to Harvard Business Review.

Besides you, the SME, other players might be: a proposal writer, proposal manager, marketing manager, and the executive who gives final approval. Needless to say, it’s confusing to understand your place and timing when so many people are involved in the RFP response review workflow.

Within RFPIO, it’s easy to assign multiple reviewers. Even better…assigning sequential reviewers. This brings order to the chaos, since every contributor knows where they fit into the timeline of the review process with email alerts. The beauty here is that you can concentrate on other priorities and swoop in to finish the job.

SMEs face common challenges with RFP Response. Read our guide to overcome them.

RFP collaboration tactic #2: Team communication

Being that every RFP project is a team effort, communication must be consistent and easy. Your days are already filled with time-sensitive priorities and back-to-back meetings. Contributing to an RFP adds to this—you have to make time in your schedule to help your team. The quicker the communication, the better.

Relaying RFP project details by email is a dangerous game for organizations. Your inbox is full enough as it is, and communication will be lost or set aside for other priorities that win your attention. Status meetings are also a difficult option, since you have few hours to spare for quality facetime.

RFPIO brings a wealth of communication options to promote easier collaboration. Both at the section level and at the project level, team members can leave comments and @-mention the necessary contributors as needed. Slack integration offers yet another way for teams to work together. You enjoy direct communication on projects with less email and fewer meetings…cheers to that!

“RFPIO allows us to collaborate in real time, reduces our turn around time on these requests, and allows certain team members to take on more than they typically would with the response. Because we are responding faster with more consistent answers we are also winning deals at a higher rate than ever when an RFP is necessary.” – Ben Grimm Zapproved

RFP collaboration tactic #3: Project clarification

A lot is riding on these RFP responses—winning the RFP equates to winning business, after all. Every RFP is unique. Be crystal clear on the requirements instead of guessing or repurposing historical responses that are just “good enough.”

If a misstep happens, one of your competitors will pass you up and take the win. Since your time is so valuable as an SME, you want your RFP response contributions to count. So, you need the ability to clarify details and language both internally and externally.

For swift clarifications, RFPIO allows you to invite the issuer to collaborate within the solution. Quickly solve any uncertainties and track all of their comments to reference. Global chat is our newest internal communication feature. Much like Google Hangout chat, you work one-on-one with team members to raise questions and talk through details. Now you won’t get hung up on foggy areas of an RFP project, so you can respond like the wind.

RFP collaboration tactic #4: Content review

Content management keeps your knowledge repository up-to-date and ready for action. Every business evolves over time—some quicker than others. Your world of ever-changing responses might involve technical specs, medical compliance, or government requirements.

One thing even the busiest SME must make time for…content audits. Your expertise is a critical step in the content management process to ensure the most accurate version is on-hand. Finding the time to clean up RFP responses probably sounds like a pipe dream, which is why you need the occasional friendly reminder to help you stay on top of things.

Stale content, outdated content, duplicate content don’t stand a chance with RFPIO’s content audit support. Set up reminders to audit content. Quarterly is a great cadence—unless your responses change constantly, in which case monthly is better. Content will be flagged when it’s time for review. You work your updating magic, without keeping tabs on every last response in your Content Library.

benefits of rfp software
Businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on teamwork to reach success. Successful proposal management teams are highly focused on collaboration—they are increasing connectivity and breaking down silos. And, they’re using RFP software’s collaboration features to do it all.

Your expertise is in high-demand as an SME already. To juggle RFP response contributions along with other high priorities, you need technology support. Otherwise, you will always feel buried under RFP deadlines instead of staying ahead of them.

RFP software is here to help you deliver the value-add efficiently. All you have to do is be the A-player that empowers your team’s success to win new opportunities.

Britt Skrabanek

As the Co-Founder and Content Strategist at Superneat Marketing, Britt strives to inspire RFP responders with content and resources that support their cause.