In the face of increasingly competitive markets, a solid proposal management process can be integral to your company’s growth and success. To help you understand how to optimize your RFP process, we’ve identified 6 RFP response process steps
- 01. Organize your content
- 02. Keep your content library up-to-date
- 03. Develop response criteria
- 04. Implement response workflows
- 05. Save time on repetitive tasks
- 06. Manage ongoing DDQs and questionnaires
01. Organize your content
Organizing your content is key to producing consistent, successful RFP responses. Particularly with a deadline looming, a well-structured content library will save your team time and improve accuracy.
First and foremost, your content library should be well-structured. A library that sits in a state of ‘organized chaos’ may work for some team members. But it’s important that new team members, and those working from home, can navigate the library effectively, without the need for guidance. Your library structure should suit the needs of your business. Restructuring and organizing may require effort in the short term. But this will futureproof your content archive as it grows over time.
Coordinate with the teams and departments in your business, to agree upon a library structure for your content. Ensure that separate content libraries follow the same folder formats and naming conventions. This will make it easier for everyone involved in the RFP process to navigate the folders, and find the assets they require.
Agree upon library access. Assign a content owner responsible for each library, to be the primary decision-maker for content management. Grant access and user permissions, based on which members of the team require it. Be careful to consider data protection regulations, and set custom permissions if needed.
Content should be easily sortable and searchable. As content libraries grow – it is important that your team can navigate quickly and effectively. Proposal software features can make this a breeze! Labeling your assets with tags and attributes can help to organize your assets, making them easier to discover in search. Intelligent search tools will return relevant results that go beyond direct query matches. Intelligent search will better understand search intent, and serve results based on that.
If you would like to dive further into how best to organize your content – read our guide Content Management Tips for your RFP process here!
02. Keep your content library up-to-date
Allowing outdated content is a surefire way to clog up your content library. The best way to combat this is to set expiration dates for content. RFP software can help by flagging assets that haven’t been used over a certain time period. Systematically updating or archiving outdated content will help keep your content library clear and up-to-date.
⭐️ Star-worthy advice: Archive your old content, don’t delete it!
Communication with subject matter experts (SMEs) will ensure content is accurate and compliant. Assign content to SMEs for regular review. Determine the appropriate frequency to have these regular content reviews – to make sure that content doesn’t become outdated and unusable. We suggest starting out with quarterly reviews, which can then be scaled back over time if this proves excessive.
Add SME-written content to your content library so that your specialists don’t become overwhelmed with repetitive requests for information. In order to make your RFP process scalable – have your SMEs write a long-form resource (like an FAQ) on their area of expertise, to include answers to common questions. This will give RFP managers a standardized resource to work from. Regular, repetitive requests to your SMEs may overwhelm them, and cause the quality of their responses to degrade over time. Instead, having an SME-written resource will save time for both SMEs and RFP managers. Your specialists will thank you!
Our guide How to master RFP content management covers best practices that will ensure your content library stays up-to-date!
03. Develop response criteria
Taking a strategic approach to your RFP response begins with outlining response criteria. Consider the following evaluation criteria, to determine if an RFPs is worth responding to.
When responding to an RFP, use any previous relationship with a prospect to your advantage! This can really give you a leg up on the competition. You can reference work that you have previously done with the client, and highlight project successes. Contact employees of the company who you worked with and leverage those professional relationships. They might put in a good word on your company’s behalf!
When evaluating an RFP, consider the customer fit with your own brand. You should evaluate whether working with the firm will add value to your firm, and whether you will add value to theirs! Consider these factors before responding to an RFP;
- Have you worked with similar companies in the past?
- Are you familiar with their industry?
- Does the customer match your company’s focus and direction?
- Do their core values and principles align with yours?
A critical factor of any RFP is the turnaround time. If a company issues an RFP with a very tight deadline, they could be seeking solutions to an urgent or high-risk situation. Alternatively, they might be strategically issuing the RFP to fulfill bidding compliance. If you get the feeling this might be the case, then carefully weigh up the risks of submitting an RFP in such a short timeframe. Preparing a rushed RFP can be a stressful and resource-heavy endeavor. Particularly if the prospect will choose their incumbent supplier either way.
⭐️ Star-worthy advice: If the RFP deadline is short, consider asking for an extension. If they decline to grant an extension – they’ve likely made their decision already!
For further information on how to develop response criteria, read our guide on How to spot red flags in RFPs!
04. Implement response workflows
All of your content should have a content owner who will serve as gatekeeper for the information that goes into an RFP response. This person will be empowered to take ownership of the content library, devise a content management plan, and be the champion for managing RFP content.
The content owner is also responsible for executing on a content approval workflow which often includes sign-off from management and subject matter experts. Once all the information has been consolidated from the various arms of the business – Allocate time to conduct a content review. Having a content owner who knows this proposal approval workflow inside-and-out, will ensure consistently high-quality responses.
⭐️ Star-worthy advice: Review the performance of your RFP workflow, once a response has been submitted. This will allow you to collect feedback from your RFP response team, and identify opportunities for improvements!
05. Save time on repetitive tasks
Responding to RFPs can be time-consuming and repetitive. But if done correctly – there are huge opportunities for time-saving on common tasks. Using an autofill feature that answers questions with the click of a button, can save your team countless hours. Rather than having to type out responses to general questions, simply select from pre-populated answers.
Another key capability that will save your team time, is using a platform that allows you to work directly in Microsoft Word and Excel. This makes populating content easy. Once your response is complete, your RFP manager won’t then have to waste time reformatting responses into a separate tool.
Choosing an RFP response software that has innovative workflow and accuracy screening, allows you to stay on track, and not get bogged down in time-wasting repetitive work. With many time-saving features – Watch how the intuitive Autofill feature on RocketDocs works below!
06. Manage ongoing DDQs and questionnaires
Once you’ve won the business through an RFP, you then have to manage ongoing DDQs (Due Diligence Questionnaires). These questionnaires outline how your business will operate and comply with standards, in order to create transparency and confidence in the new business relationship. Completing DDQs and other regular questionnaires can become a time-consuming and repetitive task. Read our guide How to Automate Recurring Questionnaires for more tips!
⭐️ Star-worthy advice RocketDocs’ Refresh feature, automatically updates your questionnaire responses with the latest information from your content library, with the click of a button. This saves your RFP team valuable time, whilst ensuring the information is concise and accurate.
Improve Your RFP Process with RocketDocs
With over 25 years of experience – RocketDocs can help improve your RFP process. RocketDocs features include;
- Organizable content library
- Assign content attributes + workflows
- AI-driven autofill feature
- Integration with Microsoft Word + Excel
RocketDocs RFP response tool enables organized, efficient, and compliant RFP responses. Schedule your FREE Demo today – Optimize the RFP process and boost your win rate!