Why RFP collaboration is just better without email

Email has been the most common form of communication for businesses since the emergence of the internet in the 1980s. We’ve sung email’s praises for decades, saying it facilitates easier communication and helps us get more work done. But email only goes so far when it comes to managing the RFP process. Especially since it’s not 1987 anymore.

The world has about 2.6 billion email users. That number is expected to grow to 2.9 billion by 2019. You might be thinking: “So email should be the ideal medium to exchange ideas on RFPs, right?”

Well, not really.

Growth has its share of pitfalls, and there is plenty of spam to deal with in the email world today. The sheer volume we face in our inbox is enough without adding the communication it takes to complete an RFP response within a tight deadline.

So, why do we think email is the only way to collaborate? Here are a few ways using RFP software can change your outlook and enhance team collaboration.

Tracking RFP progress and improving productivity

RFPs often come in as a last-minute surprise, with strict deadlines for submission. Anyone working on RFP responses knows that the request just gets more complex, and there is no looking back once the initial email arrives asking for input.

Only using email communication as a way to assign tasks, measure working hours, and track the daily status of the RFP process is far from efficient. Tracking and reporting productivity becomes increasingly difficult, as your inbox is already cluttered with other priorities.

Since RFPs are typically low on the priority list already. Having other distractions around can easily steal an SME’s attention, leaving the unanswered RFPs collecting dust in a file or tossed away in the trash “for later.”

Here is where an RFP response solution truly scores over email. It enables large teams to track RFP progress, aiming at reduced redundancy and improved productivity. This is crucial because team members might be working on the same RFP, so a tool can alleviate the weight on your organization’s resources.

Managing your internal RFP responses

Email threads involved in RFP responses are often so long that it’s tough to track the single response which triggered the email chain in the first place. This often leaves us searching for emails with the latest version of a file, managing revisions of outdated documents, or having multiple versions of a document in circulation.

Usually there are dozens of emails with similar subject lines. Filtering out the irrelevant and locating the relevant responses is a job all on its own. Even with a dedicated proposal manager or lead, it’s hard to read through complicated email threads and note individual responses from SMEs when you’re trying to get the RFP response out the door.

Our client Brian Zielinski from Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions had this to say:

“On average, a company responding to 2-4 RFPs per month can expect to save, at minimum, 80-100 man hours in time spent researching and answering technical questions. With employee hourly rates ranging anywhere from $25 to $50 per hour (or higher), the cost savings on man-hours far outweighs the cost of RFP software.”

Using an RFP platform that organizes individual responses and pinpoints accountability of team members can go a long way. Email simply can’t compete.

Clear communication and less email

Email doesn’t allow for the exchange of ideas, which is why there are so many popular communication platforms that exist today to eliminate the confusion of email collaboration. With the RFP process, there are often multiple team members working together and things can easily slip through the cracks.

Imagine this…you have a slew of email attachments from different team members that talk about different aspects of the RFP. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a single dashboard that clarified the purpose and impact of every response? RFP software does that.

Necessary integrations with apps like Salesforce and Slack make communication much easier for teams across various stages of the RFP process. While email still has its place, it’s a catch-all. The clearest communication will happen in a solution that is built for the goal your team is trying to accomplish.

Easy collaboration promotes high-quality responses

When working on an RFP through email, there is no way of telling who sent the initial document and who owns the most current document. The document might be revised multiple times by various team members, so efforts are being duplicated.

Scouring through multiple email threads to find relevant information that would add value to the RFP also makes collaboration more challenging. A strong Content Library of responses gathers expertise from your team in one place to eliminate repetitive tasks.

A high-quality RFP response is what we need to increase our chances of winning. Easy and consistent collaboration can truly set successful teams apart from the competition. Optimizing your Content Library and fine-tuning your review process for RFPs can make a big difference—yet another reason why RFP software wins email.

Email as a tool for simple communication serves its purpose with everyday business. For RFP collaboration, having a dedicated internal tool will ultimately help your team be more effective and efficient with RFP response.

Still using email to collaborate on your RFPs? We hope you’ll consider changing your ways to enhance your team’s productivity.


A highly experienced product manager, Ganesh Shankar has successfully led product development and software implementations for Fortune 500 enterprises as a product manager. It was then, surrounded by an outdated approach to responding to RFPs, that he pursued his dream to create proposal management software that would make a positive impact on the industry.

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