The response process should be scalable, repeatable, and consistent.
Perhaps you remember the childhood game of “telephone.” In the game, one person thinks of a sentence and then whispers it to the next person in line; that person then whispers it to the next in line, and so on. Once everyone has heard the sentence, the last person has to say it out loud. Almost invariably, the final sentence has very little in common with the original.
An RFP might land in someone’s inbox in a variety of formats, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or even as a PDF. You might share the RFP, or parts of it, with dozens of stakeholders, each with their own area of expertise.
You could even have multiple stakeholders working on a single question or a single subject matter expert (SME) working on multiple RFPs, which, without the right processes in place, leads to inconsistent responses—a giant red flag to procurement teams.
In other words, an RFP can be like a written game of telephone. Multiple hands without centralized processes can delay and distort the response, meaning the response manager might have to spend hours, days, or even weeks trying to craft a cohesive response out of an anything but cohesive array of answers.
The solution is RFP software that is advanced enough to frame a response process that is consistent, repeatable, and scalable, regardless of the number of stakeholders involved. Let’s explore how RFP software can smooth out the response process, enabling you to drive more revenue in less time.
What is RFP software?
Clothing sizes, sports referees, traffic, RFPs—is consistency too much to ask? To be fair, consistency can get a little boring, but consistency in the RFP response process leads to better responses and perhaps more time for you to enjoy more of the chaos we call life outside of work.
As much as we’d love it if all RFPs arrived in consistent formats, they don’t. An effective RFP response tool is the foundation of a fine-tuned RFP process, creating consistency, repeatability, and scalability—transforming any RFP format into a predictably easy-to-navigate response.
Intelligent RFP software is able to import documents into a single format that’s simple and easily accessible by each stakeholder. In turn, the stakeholders submit their answers via the online portal, so project managers, writers, SMEs, etc., know who said what, when it was said, and how to find it, every single time, regardless of the RFP’s original format.
Once answers are in the system, you can store the Q&A pairs in the Content Library, or as I like to call it, The Single Source of Truth, for future use. But SMEs don’t have to wait for an RFP to add vital information to the Content Library. As they accumulate knowledge, rather than storing it on paper or in their heads (surprisingly common), they can add it to the Content Library, where it will remain accessible to all who need it.
Additionally, RFPIO’s advanced RFP software is a project management platform, with features such as assigning and tracking roles and responsibilities, scheduled review cycles, trend analytics, built-in collaboration tools, and seamless integration with the most popular CRMs and other sales tools.
In short, RFPIO software is both a scalable content management system and a project management tool, allowing teams to respond to more of the right bids in less time.
Perhaps less tangibly, but as importantly, it instills trust in SMEs and other stakeholders, as they know that their efforts won’t be duplicated or wasted and that there’s a single repository of consistent and repeatable company knowledge. This enables companies to build on things as opposed to just trying to keep afloat.
Fundamental features to look for in RFP software
The two main features to look for in RFP response technology are project and content management. While response teams might function with one or the other feature, it’s far more difficult.
You can answer RFPs without an automated and intuitive content management system, but that would make them a lot more difficult. On the other hand, you could have just a content database, but you’d lose context, such as where the content is, where the gaps are, and where you have old information that’s being pulled in without actually doing the RFPs.
Still, organizations should look for what their specific needs are. What are the most significant pain points? How will the needs grow in the future?
The most common pain points we hear are:
- Too much time spent on responses – An up-to-date and easily accessible content library means the difference between tracking stakeholders down and clicking a few buttons.
- Low response capacity – More often than not, low response capacity comes from trying to do too much. All too often, replying to each and every RFP is seen as the safer bet. Imagine if dating singles took the same approach. Instead of “swiping right” on every opportunity, choose those that fit. An automated response process can help you choose wisely and simplify those worth pursuing. More importantly, automation helps ensure that responses are accurate and on time, but also compelling and competitive, which helps propel your bid to the top of the stack.
- Disjointed workflow – For proposal teams, a disjointed workflow is a confidence killer! When stakeholders cannot follow the process, they may find themselves wondering “why bother?” RFPIO’s project management features ensure up-to-the-minute statuses on each proposal. And when someone is stuck, others can see where they are stuck and help.
- Inconsistent deliverables – RFP software eliminates the differences between formats, makes questions easy to locate, and simplifies collaboration, even in siloed organizations. Perhaps more significantly, RFP software enforces rules and parameters, such as character limits.
Why you need RFP software
Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the growth of remote work opportunities has brought the term “distributed workforce” into the mainstream. However, with worldwide offices, multiple brands under single umbrellas, etc., distributed workforces have been around for a very long time.
It’s common for a response to require SMEs from multiple time zones or for a single SME to work on responses from half the world away, and even from different brands under their corporate umbrella.
Response software such as RFPIO allows for different versions of questions and answers. So rather than responding to each RFP from scratch, RFPIO lets SMEs add to or change content to tailor each RFP, ensuring that there’s less of a risk of discrepancies.
RFPIO features include:
- Content management – Repeatable company information in a single source, ready to go at the click-of-a-button.
- Integrations – RFPIO seamlessly integrates with more than two dozen of the most popular CRMs, project management systems, communication apps, sales enablement tools, etc.
- Automation – RFPIO continually learns as you work and suggests answers as you go, providing repeatability. The platform also automatically transfers RFPs from multiple formats into a single, consistent, accessible, predictable one.
- A unique, project-based pricing approach – User-based pricing limits response teams, creates bottlenecks and incentivizes teams to limit their use of SMEs. Instead, RFPIO includes unlimited users in all of the pricing levels.
- Scalability – RFPIO has no data or user limits. The software grows as the company grows and changes. Moreover, as the RFP industry evolves, so does RFPIO, without burdening existing tech stacks..
How RFP software can help
I will let you in on a little secret. RFP software, even cutting-edge RFP software such as RFPIO, is not a magic wand. It will never replace response teams, but advanced RFP technology will make their jobs more efficient and productive, ultimately making everyone, even CFOs, happy.
However, the only way RFP software can truly add value is if it works with response management teams rather than the other way around. That includes:
More productive collaboration
Improving collaboration is key to effective RFP management. Most organizations have distributed workforces, and even those that don’t might have off-premises response stakeholders and SMEs.
Chasing people down for answers is a waste of time. RFPIO allows any stakeholder to log in at any time and see exactly what is being asked of them.
RFP software should work with tech stacks instead of adding to them. RFPIO does precisely that by seamlessly integrating with more than two dozen of the most popular workplace tools, including:
- CRM – Break down the silos between sales and response teams with CRM integrations, including Salesforce, Dynamics 365, Pipedrive, PipelineDeals, and HubSpot
- Communication apps – Stay in touch with stakeholders with Google Hangouts, Jira, Microsoft Teams, and Slack
- Cloud storage – Sharepoint, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive
- SSO authentication – Login through Microsoft ADFS, Microsoft Azure, OneLogin, and Okta
- Browser extensions – Access RFPIO through Chromium Edge or Google Chrome
- Vendor assessment – Streamline security questionnaires through Whistic
- Productivity – Import RFPs from nearly any format, including Microsoft Suites, Google Sheets, and PDFs
- Sales enablement – Import and export content using Seismic or Highspot
RFPIO’s project management features allow project managers to ensure efficiency, establish roles and deadlines, protect your RFP response content, and curate and cultivate your Content Library.
Automated import process
Manual imports are the most time-consuming part of the RFP response process. RFPIO’s advanced import tools turn RFPs from nearly any format into consistent and easily-collaborative content.
As I’ve mentioned, consistency is key in response management. In fact, repeating yourself is perhaps the easiest way to streamline your response process, especially since most questions are repeats, or at least variations on questions you’ve seen before.
Keep all your content in one easily accessible place with RFPIO’s AI-empowered Content Library. When you encounter one of those repeated questions, the Content Library will automatically suggest a company-approved answer. All you have to do is click a button and tailor the answer if needed.
A knowledge management tool decreases RFP response time by:
- Providing a searchable information hub
- Housing reusable content
- Enabling customization using previous responses
- Facilitating content accuracy
AI-powered recommendation engine
We like to think of RFPIO as a response team’s brilliant assistant. Stumped on a question or you don’t have time to scour the database? That’s what the AI-powered recommendation engine is for. It:
- Answers common repetitive questions
- Auto-identifies response content
- Assigns questions to pertinent SMEs
- SSO – Using Single Sign-On, you won’t have to memorize passwords. Simply login using your company credentials.
- Automate user management – Automatically delete users when they leave the company
- 2-factor authentication – If your company doesn’t use SSO, RFPIO also supports 2-factor authentication.
- Control access – Define what users can and can’t see.
Let’s talk about the bigger picture. The ultimate goal of more effective RFP management is to win more business! RFPIO gives response management teams more time to craft better answers to more RFPs. It sounds simple, right? Again, it’s all about scalability, repeatability, and consistency.
With RFPIO, you can increase your win potential by responding to the right opportunities in a consistent, repeatable voice, using consistent, scalable answers in a repeatable, easily collaborative, and searchable format.
Scale your team’s ability to answer RFPs
By optimizing the amount of time spent on repetitive manual processes, your team is freed up to dedicate their resources to pursuing new business.
Produce higher quality responses, consistently
In a highly competitive landscape, businesses cannot afford to gamble by underperforming at the proposal stage. RFP software enables consistency through dependable accuracy, helping ensure finely-tuned responses, and creating reliable deliverables through export functionality.
Start winning more bids with RFPIO
RFPIO is the industry-leading response management platform, designed to securely increase RFP win rates and drive revenue. Learn more by scheduling a Free Demo.
Now, if only we could do something about clothing sizes.
Next, we’ll discuss knowledge management best practices.