When managing proposals, your organization is likely in one of two baskets. In the first, contract management means stacking finished proposals in one place, spending hours looking for the required document, losing track of milestone dates, and heavily relying on emails.
This classical method of managing proposals strives to keep up with proposal management tools but often cannot. With modern proposal management software, your document process is faster and smarter. Designed with sophisticated algorithms, this software transforms your business from a manual data-handling organization to a super tech powerhouse for managing proposals.
So, proposal management software is a must if you want to stay afloat. However, with dozens of these tools in the market, finding the right one is tricky. In this buyer’s guide, we will cut the long chase short and show you how to choose the best proposal management software for your organization.
But before we go any further, first things first; let’s look at the basics.
- What Is Proposal Management Software Part 1
- Key Factors to Consider in Proposal Software Part 2
- Types of Proposal Management Software Part 3
- Why Do You Need Proposal Management Software Part 4
- How to Choose Proposal Management Software: Ultimate Guide Part 5
What Is Proposal Management Software?
Proposal management software is a technology-based technique to create, organize, and archive contracts. For experienced business owners, processing documents manually is not only time consuming but also risky. This software reduces your costs, supports centralized governance, improves accountability, and boosts profitability.
In simple terms, these systems change overall business proposal management throughout the entire life cycle of the proposal.
Proposal software can be described as a comprehensive solution that helps, streamlines, and automates the process of developing business proposals. This intelligent system is designed with impressive document generation and content merging functionalities to aid your proposal writing team.
Whatever solution you choose, however, make sure that it incorporates key proposal development capabilities which include:
- Monitoring proposal progress and tracking tasks
- Identifying and reusing past reports
- Promoting real-time collaboration among writers
But Why Not Use MS Excel or MS Word Instead?
MS Word and Excel can create typical business proposals. However, with organizations needing intelligent request for proposal (RFP) functionalities, Word and Excel are not complete solutions, especially if you are dealing with dozens of different job applications.
Some of the drawbacks of Word and Excel include:
1. Poor Designing for RFP Procedures
Word and Excel are great tools for time management and task handling. However, when you need to assemble RFPs, their basic design is not the best to work with. Lacking basic collaboration and storage functionalities like email, these two programs can be challenging when trying to compare notes with other writers and when archiving files.
Drafting your proposals with these programs, you are sure to end with:
- Scattered proposals
- Anonymity – you can’t easily identify the person who wrote a particular proposal, and when it was last updated
- Poor quality versions
- Inconvenience when sharing proposals – must manually navigate through multiple tools
2. Lacks a Centralized Data Hub
When drafting your proposals, you need to do much referencing to ensure that you produce a version that will fit perfectly in a specific job application. Excellent writing skills are crucial for a perfect business proposal. What truly counts is the design, presentation, and the relevance it makes to the potential client. To achieve this, you need a lot of referencing and data mining, which is not what Word and Excel are good at.
3. They Are Not Dynamic
Designed as writing tools and not content management programs, Word and Excel are incredibly rudimentary regarding organizing and categorizing your proposals. Also, with these two tools, searching and finding specifics in your proposals is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Word and Excel do have the capacity to analyze trends which is essential for updating proposals. Although comparatively expensive, proposal software in all aspects is a better choice.
Before you start looking at the features and capabilities of a solution, there are two main aspects any wise shopper should keep in mind:
- The fundamental proposal elements that will award you that contact
- Specific content features you would like to incorporate into your proposals
After answering the above questions, you will have a clear understanding of the main features you need, and this will help you choose the perfect proposal writing software.
Key Factors to Consider in Proposal Software
1. Integration with Your Existing Tools
An excellent proposal solution should allow you to share insights with pre-existing programs. This enables seamless data sharing and collaboration among employees.
Some of the integrations to consider include:
Customer Relationship Software
This functionality enables you to directly relay client information across the two platforms so you can add value to your proposal easily. Additionally, with this integration, you can monitor the growth of your proposal without necessarily launching the proposal software.
After your proposal is accepted, all you can do is sit and wait as payments roll in one after the other (of course, after doing the assigned work). If the payment methods are in place and verified, this should be a downhill slide. However, you may find yourself unable to receive payments because your proposal software does not have a gateway linking it to the payment department.
To avoid this, make sure your solution integrates with the payment hub.
Of course, sales referencing is essential if you want to cultivate a transparent culture in your organization. For this reason, your solution should allow you to store and retrieve your documents from the main database smoothly. This is only possible if there is a window between the two platforms.
2. Proposal Creation
The primary function of proposal software is to help you design perfect proposals that will sell with your clients. If it doesn’t, then Excel or Word would be a cheaper option.
A perfect solution should include customizable templates, proposal recycling capabilities, and a drag and drop interface to streamline the process of embedding vital sections like videos and maps into the main piece. This dramatically reduces development time and allows consistency across all files.
Analytics and document tracking is another important feature when developing proposals. You should choose a comprehensive tool with outstanding tracking and analyzing capabilities. Besides giving you insights into your proposal’s progress, this feature also speeds up your sales cycle, bringing your objectives even closer into view.
3. System Automation
Indeed, developing a perfect proposal takes both time and resources. There is a lot of repetition that goes into this, which if done manually, would jeopardize the final product.
System automation smoothens out the whole workflow by ensuring quick access to information, especially when producing new content from an older version.
Other Features to Consider Include:
- Video attachment features
- Multiple formats
- Interactive elements like price tables
- Robust reporting system
- Performance evaluation features
Types of Proposal Management Software
With consideration to the size of an organization, there are two main types of proposal management software:
Small Business System
This model features basic tools like canned elements, templates, and standard workflows. Most small-scale companies have standard bidding necessities, which can be addressed easily by this incredible tool.
Generally, larger companies with special or complex projects need to modify their proposals to achieve unique requirements. Enterprise software helps you to configure procedures like contract submission, consolidation, and approval as well as to tweak specific proposal elements quickly and precisely.
Note: Proposal management software can be cloud or server-based when deployed. However, most platforms offer this as a service (cloud-based).
Why Do You Need Proposal Management Software?
Often when something sounds or looks too ridiculously sweet to be true, it probably is not. However, when it comes to proposal management tools, this law does not apply. It’s well and good if you want to stick with the manual path. But consider these benefits of proposal management software:
Helps create proposals faster
If your organization is frequently involved in the bidding, you definitely need proposal management software. Perfectly designed with an array of exquisite features, this tool enables you to respond to RFPs quickly. Also, it helps you to delegate easily and puts a system to the various parts of the proposal, including:
— Project management
You can swiftly compile particular departments’ contributions into a finished proposal. Also, with this superb software, you can develop clones of your proposal from past documents for new bidding. Lastly, this tool can help you create clear-cut routines for developing proposals, thus minimizing time lost scheduling meetings just to get everyone in the loop.
Ensures proposal’s accuracy and consistency
Humans are prone to error; so it is inevitable to make a stupid mistake, especially when rushing to meet RFP deadlines. When bidding, you can overprice, underprice, and overestimate your supply capabilities – these are common mistakes. Mostly, it is as a result of poor consultation with employees.
However, perfectly engineered with fully automated functionalities, proposal management software will employ its unique multi-tier approval capabilities to ensure that members get to affirm their commitment to the terms in the contract.
Provides collaboration space for stakeholders
With invaluable collaborator apps, a proposal management system allows stakeholders from various departments to air their opinions easily by simply logging into the system. Also, you can involve workers to a debate board, thus ensuring that your contract terms lie within your vendor’s capacity. All this is possible because of the communication channels available, including:
— Live Chat
— Discussion boards
— Activity Feed
Frees you from routine work
Streamlines the proposal drafting process
How to Choose Proposal Management Software: Ultimate Guide
When looking for a perfect proposal management software, there are many factors to consider. The features offered are the most important; however, before that, you need first to consider a few basic but crucial factors.
Buying Factors to Consider
Must Adapt to Bidding Requirements
Consider the flexibility of your solution in terms of providing bidding documents with different designs. With proposal requirements focused on the price while others hone in on the details, it is essential to choose a versatile tool that allows you to create various designs. You may need to assemble complex contracts that have attachments, especially with professional or legal documents. If so, look for proposal management software that adapts to various bidding requirements.
Should Integrate with Key Systems
An excellent proposal management software should integrate with existing systems. For example, integration with CRM allows you to customize the pitch. CRM offers detailed insights into the client, thus helping you to make final adjustments so your proposal can perfectly align with your client’s needs. Apart from CRM, your proposal management software should also integrate with other key business platforms like document management applications and email.
While most proposal management tools are automated, having a double-edged tool is always a good idea, especially when manual entries are required to meet unique bid requirements or when dealing with special clients. To avoid getting stuck, make sure to choose a solution with manual override capability.
If your contract needs contributions from professionals in various departments, it is crucial to look for a platform with a robust collaboration channel. With this, departmental heads can easily and quickly share files, ideas, and add their opinions. If your team members are working remotely, which is common in large companies, a perfect collaboration space lets you virtually consolidate all your great minds, thus gathering expertise before submitting a proposal.
Key Features to Look for in a Perfect Proposal Management Software
Now, after looking at the buying factors above, you can go ahead and consider the following that will lead you to your ultimate proposal management software.
Software with this feature allows you to enjoy the power of artificial intelligence through automating proposal drafting and formatting according to your configurations. By employing an advanced feature, you can even initiate automatic proposal creation. Also, system automation can allow you to send your proposal to customers via email or queue the document for the production of snail mail.
Typically, proposal templates act as kick starters, especially if you an inexperienced proposal writer. To streamline the whole process, the software is designed with a standard contract template from which you can choose and easily fill it out with all the essential elements. So, if you are an amateur in this game, and you think that your lack of knowledge may lead to bidding rejection, it is important to choose software with this feature.
Multi-tier approval is an important feature to consider in your tool, especially if you are dealing with complex proposals that may require various hierarchical endorsement including:
Vertical approval – endorsement according to rank, generally from the lowest to the highest ranking members (supervisors, managers, and departmental heads.)
Horizontal approval – the proposal requires approval across various departments.
Additional Features to Consider
- Centralized database for old and new proposals
- Collaboration and communication tools
- Analytics tools
Proposal writing software is a powerful tool that can help you build professional and compelling proposals. Remember that if you are dealing with a service company, a polished proposal is what a potential customer needs to consider your services. For this reason, perfect proposal software is a must if you want to boost sales and see your business grow.
How to start:
Step 1: Create your account and create a new applet by selecting a customizable form template.
- Configure who will add records by choosing the “Participants” tab.
- Set the applet as “Team-wide” if you want all team members to view each other’s records.
- Alternatively, you can allow each participant to view his/her own records only and stakeholders to view all entries.
- Step 2: Users will click the “Open Submission Form” button to fill it out and submit it.
As soon as a new record is added, participants with “View” rights will receive an email notification and can view it in real time on the Timeline screen.
- Employees can discuss records in real time — each record has its own section for live comments.
- Add an unlimited number of attachments (documents, images, photos, videos, audio notes, files) to a record.
- Export records or share them online.
Get instant access to historical data and files with powerful search and filtering capabilities:
The dashboard screen allows you to save time when you want to check a high-level overview, with quick one-click retrieval of the relevant information.