All types of business teams are working to navigate the realm of the “new normal” — working with their colleagues remotely, balancing work and personal responsibilities, and determining how to reprioritize business goals and the actions supporting them. But what are the specific impacts on Bid or Proposal teams? What actions can they take during this challenging time?
Strategic Proposals surveyed 100 leaders in the Bid and Proposal community to assess the impacts they’re seeing on their teams and businesses, then shared their results last week on LinkedIn. The topline results will not surprise anyone, but there are several key pieces of good news as well as great suggestions for how to focus your energies today.
Let’s get into some of the specifics.
Pipeline Concerns Top the List of Challenges
Two-thirds of respondents indicated that pipeline concerns were at the top of their list of challenges. The concern is not only that the overall numbers of RFP opportunities appear to be going down, but also that deadlines on active RFPs are being extended and there is greater uncertainty in the outlook for future projects.
That being said, leaders responsible for global teams indicated that their APAC business is already returning to normal levels of activity, albeit slowly. The other anecdotal good news – while volumes of opportunities are down globally, the value of on-going tenders has increased approximately 25%.
While the data undoubtedly indicates that the picture is not rosy, these nuggets of positive information are great reminders that the market will recover going forward.
What Can Be Done Today to Prep for Tomorrow’s Recovery?
Some of the best information contained in the survey responses were the suggestions these Bid Team leaders provided to other teams. The most strategic answers provided to the question “what one piece of advice would you share with other leaders in the bid / proposal profession right now?” include:
- Demonstrate that the team is being proactive, looking for ways to support the business, pushing hard to assist.
- This is an opportunity to put your house in order – to work on the gaps, those things we never have time to do when the next bid comes in.
- Take the opportunity to take the business into the digital world and come out of it with more ability to be flexible, agile and more efficient communicators.
- Prepare for the future onslaught, when all bids on hold are released, by getting your team trained, systems and processes in place and housekeeping in order.
These recommendations might all sound valuable, but what specifically are they suggesting? Here are some options.
Strategic Projects to Start Now
Proactive Knowledge, Addressing Gaps
In our RFP process guide, Developing a Powerhouse RFP Response Process for Your Small Bid Team, we recommended two “evergreen” projects for teams: a Competitor Review and creation of a Proposal Style Guide. Both these projects are clearly options for “putting your house in order” and “preparing for a future onslaught.” A Competitor Review is also a proactive tool that can help more than your Bid organization; it could be invaluable to the Sales team overall. (We’ll be providing a new post on compiling a Competitor Review in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!)
Digital World Prep
It might seem self-serving that we’ve picked this suggestion, since DraftSpark is a digital tool to help teams more efficiently draft RFP responses. But we see this suggestion more holistically. Here are several different categories of tools and processes that you might consider for enhancing your performance.
- General Collaboration
As all of us have learned during this time of Sheltering in Place, general collaboration technologies are essential to supporting good teamwork. Your team may have adopted or vastly increased its usage of online meeting tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. You also might have started using instant communication tools like Slack. And of course, email is a constant. But you probably won’t go back to the tools and norms you had in place prior to the current situation. Now that you’ve settled in (somewhat) to your new processes, try to take a step back and decide which tools will continue to support more productivity once you’re able to return to the office.
- Processes and Techniques
As any organization that is seriously attempting a “digital transformation” knows, implementing a tool alone does not make you a digital operation. Now is the time to consider redesigning the processes your team relies upon to get work done.
Recently, there has been a lot of attention in the Proposal world on adopting Agile methodologies–the APMP sponsored the webinar Agile Proposal Development Methods back in August 2018 (still available for online viewing) and we recently blogged on the topic as well. Today may be an opportune moment to consider new processes or techniques that help your team become more responsive and efficient in their work.
- Graphics Tools
Every team knows that good design is essential to an effective proposal document. While your existing design processes may be working just fine, if you have some extra time for evaluation or exploration, now might be the optimal moment to consider new options.
For example, we’re recently seen some clients using Canva for proposal layout and graphics rather than engaging a designer. They offer a whole template section on Proposal layouts that may make it easy and affordable for your team to do more of its own design work.
Or, you may just want to take a look at how you can use your current tools more effectively. The APMP is once again a wealth of information, with prior webinar topics like Awesome PowerPoint Tricks for Effective Presentations and Practical Design Tips for Non-Designers.
- Proposal Management Tools
We’re not going to go into a long description here, although we did need to include this as an essential tool for teams that want to maximize the value of their existing content and jumpstart their RFP response projects. To further help teams trying to evaluate new tools, we’re offering additional onboarding and implementation support in addition to our standard free trial offer.
You certainly don’t need to tackle projects in every one of these categories, but there are sound options to choose from to help equip your team for succeeding as we look beyond the current challenging business environment.
A Final Thought on the Survey Results
While we’ve focused on many of the business implications of Strategic Proposal’s survey, we didn’t want to neglect to note how much the humanity of these Bid Team leaders came through just as much as their concerns and ideas on how to move the business forward. From their concern for their teams (#2 and #3 top concerns around Virtual Working and Team Wellbeing) to their caring and creative suggestions and ideas, the people-focused leadership of these professionals comes through. Despite the challenges of these times, it’s great to be a part of a profession that is so focused on the well-being of its people.
“Don’t stress if you or your people are struggling – cut everyone some slack”
Add “two virtual coffee breaks per week to allow team to dial in and chat about non work-related stuff”
“Deal with what you can control; inspire hope and fun in your teams”
Don’t miss reading the full survey results here.