CUSTOMER STORY

Pharmaceutical company uses Proposal Builder to reduce time spent creating templates by 90%

Key results

90%
Reduction in labor time
20 min
Average proposal creation time

For this RFPIO customer that manufactures pharmaceuticals, the science is highly complex, and so are the proposals they generate to engage each of their partners. With Proposal Builder from RFPIO, this customer now creates proposal templates in 20 minutes as opposed to half a day — a 90% improvement. For a team that processes three to four proposals per week on average, the time savings add up fast.

This customer’s results to date:


  • Reduce time to create proposal templates by 90%.

  • Save proposal team approximately 20 hours per week.

  • Relieve proposal writers and SMEs of formatting frustration.

Customizing proposals down to a molecular level, literally

This pharmaceutical company’s proposals are extremely complicated, and not just because they involve the procedural minutiae of molecular science. For the proposal team, proposals are the first stage of developing a partnership.

There are two stages of proposal development before they’re shared with prospects. First, a template is generated. Then a draft is built, filling out the template with known or presumed information about the prospect. Proposal drafts are essential to the sales process because they help drive prospect conversations and hone in on the specific services needed to engage in a successful partnership. They also include contracts and master service agreements.

As these conversations progress, the team has to be able to modify the proposal. As the team learns more about what processes will be involved in capturing a molecule—for example, the type of resin required to capture it based on size or charge or other molecular attributes—the proposal changes can alter costs by hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.

There is no canned proposal template for this company. Every template is customized. As the process to build proposals grew more chaotic, proposal quality suffered, proposal writers couldn’t keep up with demand, and subject matter experts (SMEs) were so frustrated with formatting that they couldn’t focus on the science.

Ripple effects devolve into workload tsunamis

Prior to using RFPIO, proposal writers were taking previously written proposals for other clients of similar scope and then editing those proposals to create templates. It was a problematic process for two primary reasons. One, they had to find the right proposal to use as the template. Two, with Word files of varying age that have been worked on by multiple people, the formatting styles got corrupted, and unwieldy 60-page documents become even more unwieldy.

The proposal team manager and technical lead harvested individual modules from all possible proposal templates and then saved each module in its own Word document. That was the only way to preserve formatting styles. While proposal writers could then build their template by copy-and-pasting individual modules into a single document, complications arose from scope dependencies.

A single modification could cause a ripple effect throughout the proposal. The only way to manage that ripple effect was to manually update every module, which made accuracy and consistency difficult. Six or seven rounds of revisions were not uncommon, causing delays that disrupted the whole workflow.

Seeking flexibility, efficiency and relief in a SaaS solution

The proposal team processes three-to-four proposals per week, each of which averages 60 pages in length and requires high-level customization. Even with a library of copy-and-pastable modules, manual proposal development made it difficult to keep up with demand from the business development team.

With too much time being lost and SME frustration boiling over, the pharmaceutical company set out to find a SaaS solution that could help. Among all the solutions they considered, RFPIO stood out first for the flexibility it offered the proposal team. The team technical lead recognized instant efficiencies in the ability to easily move sections around in Proposal Builder.

Then they learned about Proposal Builder’s Catalog functionality. Catalog structure is a template that allows you to plug-and-play product and service content: It was the perfect automated workflow to replace the team’s manual module building.

Add in user interface clarity, the ability to make global changes across all proposal templates, and professional services support to get the ball rolling, and RFPIO was the clear winner. To the team’s credit, they knew that they would need some help from the very beginning and elected to add professional services to assist with implementation.

A 90% improvement in less than 3 months

RFPIO Proposal Builder now helps the proposal team generate an initial proposal draft in a fraction of the time it took using the old method. With RFPIO, they can generate a starting template within just a few minutes, whereas before it would take at least half a day.

RFPIO professional services helped this customer achieve these gains within three months of implementing the solution. The more the team technical lead used the system, the more they realized how helpful it could be. But there were many questions that cropped up as they started building templates. Being able to walk through those questions with professional services has prevented roadblocks and allowed the process to reliably scale. Professional services also helped with some of the initial heavy lifting by reapplying styles already being used in their proposals.

RFPIO allows the proposal team to develop a standard process and save time for proposal writers. At a conservative estimate of 20 hours per week saved, multiple people on the team are saving several hours each for every proposal, times three or four proposals per week.

While efficiency in proposal creation has saved time, redirecting focus on getting the science right has improved proposal quality.

Spending time on science, not formatting

All proposal writers at this pharmaceutical company have biochemistry backgrounds. The scientist SMEs that review and customize proposals are PhDs. The last thing these high earners need to spend their valuable time on is wrangling fonts, margins, bullet points, and other formatting styles as they make changes to proposals.

Proposal writers and SMEs have been pleasantly surprised by the new process built around RFPIO Proposal Builder. Feedback has most certainly been positive.

The proposal team spends more time on the science and doesn’t have to fuss with the formatting. Writers can focus conversations with SMEs—which are tough to carve out time for—on tailoring the proposal for the specific needs of the client.

Leaning on professional services to build a scalable system

As soon as the proposal team started using RFPIO, deeper questions arose. They maintained a close relationship with their RFPIO professional services consultant, who helped guide them through every new wrinkle.

Three months after launch, the team technical lead in charge of setting up RFPIO was working on Proposal Builder structure 60% of the time and on specific proposals 40% of the time. Ultimately, by month six, the lead expects that ratio to swing to 20% administration – 80% proposal development. The rapid return on time investment will continue to pay off as proposal writers gain more experience with the system.

Before RFPIOAfter RFPIO
Spend half a day building proposal templates by sifting through a massive Word module library and copy-and-pasting content.Reduce time it takes to create a proposal template by 90% using RFPIO Proposal Builder.
Too much time spent looking for templates, formatting and manually overseeing global changes.Proposal writers and SMEs save 20+ hours per week, refocusing time on improving proposal quality.
Proposal manager worked alone on an inefficient process to build a library of siloed Word proposal modules used to manually paste together proposal templates.RFPIO professional services supports the proposal manager as they build out the system to drive an efficient proposal template creation process.
Proposal accuracy and consistency suffered when revisions caused ripple-effect changes throughout and had to be manually implemented.Ability to make global changes reduces errors and saves several hours per week.>

Proposals are the first step to life-saving medicines

By taking advantage of all of RFPIO’s response management capabilities, this pharmaceutical company will be able to more efficiently turnaround proposals their partners need. And that’s what it’s all about. Because when their partners know the science is there to back them up, it’s another roadblock removed from creating the next medical breakthrough.

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