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What You Really Need From Proposal Software Is Not What You Think It Is

While it may be simple human nature to seek to avoid pain or drudgery, it can easily lead people to look for the wrong kind of proposal software. Instead of asking yourself what you would like proposal software to do (usually based on what you don’t want to do), you should ask yourself how it can add value. The places where proposal software can do the most to help you win more proposals are often not in the traditional assembly line automation tasks that people often think computers are best suited for.

We’ve prepared a list of things we look for when considering proposal software solutions. The list can easily be turned into a table with a column for each vendor where you can score or compare them in each area. We strongly recommend that you ask for a demo that proves how the software adds value in each area. It is very easy to claim capability, features, or support that doesn’t hold up in the often messy real world of proposal development.

  1. Does it go well beyond simple keyword searching in ways that are useful?
  2. What features does it have to support specialized searches such as past performance or resumes?
  3. Does it provide work areas for active proposals as well as areas for long-term storage of re-use information?
  4. Can you start a proposal before the RFP is released?
  5. Can you start a proposal before you know the official name and change it later?
  6. Does it provide a way to store and retrieve proposal re-use information in the form of answers to questions?
  7. Does it provide a mechanism to deliver guidance along with assignments?
  8. Does it provide instant notification, routing, and messaging so that your team can interact in real time?
  9. Does it support distributed staff, knowledge, and resources in your network environment?
  10. Does the pricing/seat model enable you to provide access to everyone who might possibly touch the proposal, including ad hoc participants
  11. Is it accessible to everyone on the team, including subcontractors?
  12. Is it accessible without special software or plug-in installation?
  13. How does it facilitate quick proposal start-ups?
  14. Is it intuitively useable without training?
  15. How much will you need to do to make it work the way you want it to?
  16. Does it provide full, reliable configuration management (version control, naming conventions, access control)?
  17. Who will be able to perform administrative functions (like access control) and will this create a bottleneck?
  18. Will it be more convenient than email to use?
  19. Will it be relevant and add value to staff outside the proposal department?
  20. How will it improve your status awareness?
  21. What kinds of progress feedback can it provide to everyone on the team?
  22. Does it support the use of graphics in your proposal as thoroughly as it does text?
  23. Does it track the identification, production request, and versioning of graphics?
  24. Can it adapt to RFP modifications, such as a major outline change?
  25. Will it be useable during final production or will you take the document out of the system at that point?
  26. Does it support content planning as well as writing?
  27. Does it provide a repository for intelligence collected from the moment the lead is identified?
  28. Does it support bid/no bid decisions?
  29. What can it do to help ensure that you are ready at RFP release?
  30. What can it do to support proposal reviews and quality validation?
  31. Does it provide tracking for Pre-RFP and Post-RFP/proposal metrics and measurements that support progress tracking, quality measurement, and win-rate correlation analysis?

SpringCM, the folks who developed Privia are a sponsor of our website.  When you compare different packages, be sure to include theirs!


By Carl Dickson, Founder of

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