5 Tips to Manage Your Request for Proposal Content Library
Businessolver is a benefits technology company combining a configurable SaaS platform with a high-touch service model. They understand and share the compassion, empathy, and strategic desires of HR leaders.
They are also a rapidly evolving SaaS company that releases very frequent updates to their products. With this comes the challenge of keeping their RFP content library accurate and consistent.
Sarah Sinclair, RFP Manager at Businessolver, recently shared 5 tips and best practices that Businessolver uses to manage their RFP Content Library. Sarah has 20 years of experience in Communications and 11+ years of experience in industries spanning E-learning, Global Asset Management, and Benefits Administration.
- Small team – Businessolver has a small team of three (3) writers managing a very large volume of RFPs per year. In 2016 alone, their team has responded to almost 300 RFPs. That’s a tall order for a lean team
- Things move FAST – Businessolver is a rapidly evolving SaaS company. They release bi-weekly product updates including new features and improvements. Keeping their library updated when moving at such a fast pace has always been a challenge.
- Library upkeep – The RFP team is not only responsible for responding to RFPs. They’re also responsible for maintaining their knowledge library and ensuring that the enhancements to their products and changes to industry regulations are also reflected in their content library.
Having tamed their RFP response process with Loopio, Sarah had some excellent tips to share.
Take Advantage of Every RFP
Ensure No Content is Wasted
There are times when you know you wrote a really great answer but you had to dig through all of your past RFPs or emails to find it. Sound familiar? This can be like finding a needle in a haystack and also wastes a lot of your valuable time.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this.
Build a Process to Continuously Update Your Library
The RFP team at Businessolver is very diligent about about feeding new or updated content back into their library so it can easily be reused in the future. They’ve created an RFP response checklist that requires everyone on their team to ‘close the loop’ on a project within 24 hours. Most times, they block off 30-60 minutes following the completion of each project to close the loop. This ensures that other team members can now leverage the content that their team is creating. It also helps improve the consistency of responses.
The team uses Loopio’s Close Loop workflow to selectively feed new and updated content back into their library. Since they respond to RFPs using Loopio’s Project Canvas, their library and projects are linked, making this process even simpler.
Capture Any Relevant Content
The RFP team is also very diligent about capturing content that is not necessarily created as a result of an RFP response project, such as follow-up questions via email. Sarah and her team have Loopio open on their screens all day and if they see a piece of content that would be relevant for future RFPs, they add it into their Loopio library so it can found and used for future RFPs. This eliminates the need to go through different sources to find content since everything is stored in one central location.
Keep Your Library Re-usable
Be Very Strategic About What You’re Feeding Back Into Your Library
One of the challenges that Businessolver faced prior to using Loopio was when pulling content from old RFPs, client names would accidentally be left in. If you’re using the wrong client name, you’re likely not winning that opportunity.
Remove Client-Specific Information
As a best practice, when responding to an RFP, the Businessolver team scrubs out any client-specific information such as client name and uses a placeholder for their library. By doing so, they have eliminated the possibility that a client name gets accidentally used on a future RFP. Loopio gives you the ability to dynamically add client names when you work on a project and revert to a placeholder when you update your library. Sarah and her team are leveraging this feature to alleviate some of the manual work of scrubbing their content.
Search Until You Find Zero
Sometimes a product update may affect 10-20 Library Entries. To ensure that these updates are reflected in their content library, Businessolver’s RFP team searches their entire library thoroughly, essentially repeating the search several times, until every instance is updated. This extra step goes a long way in ensuring that their library is consistent and accurate.
Regular Keyword Reviews
Periodic keyword reviews help ensure that your library is kept clean and consistent. By searching regularly to see what search results come up, you can easily clean up/update answers, or group similar questions together to reduce confusion around which answer should be used. If you notice that you’re taking more time that expected to find your responses, jot it down and revisit it once you’re done with your RFP, and take proactive steps to clean up your Library. This will save you time in the future.
By internally communicating updates about the changes you’re making to the library, you ensure visibility across the team so everyone can find content quickly and efficiently. It also ensures that there is consistency of responses, since your team is not re-creating content that already exists. Sarah and her team make it a point to communicate content updates in their weekly team meetings and their 1:1’s. This way, the are always on top of the improvements their team is making to their Loopio library.
Being Selective Matters
It can be very tempting for a proposal manager add everything that you work on into your Library – after all you’ve spent a lot of time creating it. Remember: bad data in, bad data out. Sometimes it’s difficult to make the decision of what to add back into your library.
Saying NO to Content
A good first question to ask when trying to evaluate whether the content should be added back into your library is to determine whether all or parts of it can be applied to another client. If it doesn’t meet that criteria, it’s safe to leave it out.
Edit Responses to Make Sure They Are Reusable
If there are small tweaks that need to be made so content can be used for another client, make those changes before adding content into your library. Always be sure to leave out client specific information.
As tools and organizations evolve, there is always room to continue to make improvements to your RFP response processes. As 2017 rolls around the corner, some of the improvements Businessolver is looking to make include:
Layering Review Cycles Into Their Content
The team knows that there are pieces of content that need to be updated every year such as company financials, audit reports, or number of employees. By layering periodic reviews into their process and proactively setting up automated reminders, using Loopio’s Review Cycles functionality, they will be able to alleviate some of the manual burdens of setting up calendar reminders. It will also help with accuracy and consistency.
Fully Leveraging Your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
By bringing Subject Matter Experts into their content maintenance and response process, the team will be able to tap into their knowledge experts to enhance their RFP responses but also get them involved in content upkeep. Sharing the responsibility with SMEs alleviates some of the burden from RFP writers.
Organizing your library into distinct mini-libraries helps to keep your library organized and relevant. Businessolver has content that is tailored to different sizes of clients. Leveraging Loopio’s Stacks functionality, they plan on organizing their content into mini-libraries within their main library, to ensure that they are using the right content for the right client.
The challenges that face RFP teams are common, regardless of what industry you are in. Making small incremental improvements in your RFP response process can go a long way in improving the accuracy and consistency of your responses. The RFP team at Businessolver, although small, have scaled their response process by employing these best practices. They are now able to respond to a large volume of RFPs while keeping their responses accurate and consistent.
About Sarah Sinclair
Sarah is the RFP Manager at Businessolver. Sarah has 20 years of experience in Communications and 11+ years of experience in industries spanning E-learning, Global Asset Management, and Benefits Administration.
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