If you receive errors when attempting to view this white paper, please install the latest version of
Improving Proposal Management through Collaboration
Request for proposal is also known as :
Business Proposal ,
Request For Quotation (RFQ),
Request For Qualifications (RFQ),
Request For Information (RFI),
Invitation for Bids,
Call for bids,
RFP Statement of Work,
Request For Proposal Template,
Request For Tender (RFT),
Registration Of Interest (ROI),
Request For Offer (RFO),
Request For Applications (RFA).
The task of responding to a Request for Proposal (RFP) or another solicitation type, typically
involves countless hours, hundreds if not thousands of files and documents, and vast sums of
people in generating the proposal documents.
Examining the process more closely reveals that the origination of both the RFP and the
proposal generates more paper than is necessary. Currently the process of generating and
managing proposals requires many people documenting capabilities and solutions based upon
the requirements set out in the RFP. As for the actual publication of these documents, both the
RFP and proposal are generated and published via paper or electronic document.
Paperless or Less Paper?
Companies are often required to respond to an RFP by publishing and delivering multiple copies
of their proposal. In an age when the Internet has become an integral part of business
communications, is there not some way, other than email attachments, to improve upon these
processes associated with generating proposals?
The tools commonly used to generate proposals include spreadsheets, word processing
documents, drawings, email, and other desktop applications. But there are issues associated
with this process as it typically becomes more of a fact finding mission comprising a search for
a template or standard document which is subsequently modified. In addition, knowledge may
be inconsistently transferred to a document or application, inaccuracies may occur during the
"copy and paste" process, and documents altogether may be lost.
With the use of the Internet, and the introduction of knowledge-based architectures and
document management systems, there is significant room for improvement in this traditional
activity of generating documents using templates, and the "search and replace" features
available in desktop publishing. Certainly society will never be "paperless", but companies can
use less paper in their business operations and improve their collaborative activities by
leveraging the Internet and other communications protocols.
The Next Evolution of Internet-base Applications
The Internet alone is not the solution. But the way in which companies employ this
communications tool coupled with a structured knowledge-base application can change how
they think and work. These technologies can impact how businesses share knowledge and
collaborate with one another. These new applications will enhance how companies build
knowledge within their organizations, which may be easily accessed and repurposed when
needed rather than having to recreate documents "from scratch".
Online collaboration via a knowledge-based application allows contributors to a proposal to
streamline processes, improve quality, and save time. Eliminating manual processes significantly
reduces the likelihood of errors and redundancy.
Companies are just now on the threshold of embracing this concept of collaboration. Not simply
as a means of forging an "alliance" or building consensus among suppliers or partners, but to
truly work with one another in a single integrated environment. Typically large commercial and
governmental programs require a co-operative effort between several organizations. The
proposal will typically identify a prime contractor, which serves as the lead organization. Also
included may be various sub-contractors such as small and minority owned businesses which
help comprise the entire delivery team. For large proposals, several organizations join together
to leverage their capabilities. Responding to a complex RFP requires great care and coordination
to ensure that all requirements are met and the proposed solution is actually feasible,
achievable, and cost effective for all interested parties.
Collaboration and Knowledge Based Applications Are Available
Today such a solution exists in the marketplace. Source Selection, Inc. has created a web-based
application leveraging the latest Internet protocols as well as knowledge-base technologies to
create an Acquisition Resource Management (ARM) system providing full life-cycle support from
the initial stage of envisioning a program to the validation of results.
Source Selections application allows users from inside an organization as well as outside to
gather, use, and share knowledge in a collaborative environment. For organizations that need
to develop proposals, the Source Selection application allows users to generate all the
necessary information traditionally housed in disparate documents, to be generated and
managed using a single secure web-based environment.
If the contracting organization also uses the Source Selection application to generate and
publish the RFP, the organizations responding can then input their proposal information directly
into the knowledge driven application and eliminate the need for generating the large amount
of paper. With Source Selection, user access is based on individual role definitions pertinent to
the program or project in question. This allows organizations to distribute the work anywhere
within the organization regardless of where their personnel are located and be assured that the
information is secured and kept confidential if necessary.
A Better Way to Evaluate Proposal Responses
The Source Selection application also gives responding organizations a real-time view of how
the proposal team is crafting the response. Using Source Selection's application provides
contracting officials and proposal teams with a unique dashboard reporting capability such as
side-by-side analysis linking the RFP requirements directly to responses. This reporting
capability gives all parties a window as to how the solution is being crafted in a real-time
manner thus providing for a collaborative environment between the customer and the proposal
Recently Dr. Robert Metcalf, the founder of 3Com Corporation stated in his book "Discovered",
"As companies begin to understand the strategic value and power of commercial networks,
collaborative skills become more and more important. Point-to-point collaboration is powerful.
Network collaboration can be revolutionary."
Companies now have a tool and capability available to them giving them the ability to truly
capture knowledge from within their organizations and to reclaim information in a manner
above and beyond the current ability of most tools presently available in the marketplace.
Mary Anne Schweers is the Vice President of Professional Services for Source Selection, Inc.
Mary Anne has spent the past fourteen years working as both a consultant to the Department
of Defense and their suppliers regarding the topic of acquisition and electronic commerce. She
has also held an executive position with a global chemical manufacturer, on improving business
processes and strategies. Mary Anne began her professional career as a Senior Analyst for CACI
International and helped to change much of the federal procurement process under the
"reinventing government" initiatives. She is also a published author and national speaker.
Ken Martin is the founder of Source Selection, Inc. Ken has over 25 years of experience in
providing business management and technology innovations to domestic and international
Fortune 1000 companies as well as U.S. federal, state, and local governments.
Paul Hemming is the Chief Marketing Officer and co-founder of Source Selection, Inc. Paul
has been engaged in the electronic commerce and telecommunications industries since 1986,
and in management consulting since 1994. His expertise includes business strategy
development, market planning and commercial systems implementation.
Source Selection Inc. offers an integrated web-based collaborative environment that enables
your organization to complement today's business processes and enhance your program
management and proposal development efforts. Our framework helps organizations build
context and perspective around information so that it can be used in the most effective manner.
To learn more about this topic and how to better manage your proposal efforts, please contact
Source Selection at (214) 257 - 7880