Bid management is the process that results in the supplier responding to an RFP with the written commercial bid or proposal. Formulating the bid response is a time consuming and high-pressure task involving multiple contributors.
Bid management is a complex enterprise sales function that involves responding to RFXs to secure new business, outsource supply contracts and expand current business. Bid managers typically lead the bid strategy, the proposed solution, and work with many cross-functional team members and stakeholders who contribute to the final bid submission.
Traditionally, organizations have been running their bid response processes (solution, estimations, pricing, reviews, and approvals) in general-purpose office productivity tools. This may often lead to disintegrated data and processes resulting in slower and inefficient bid development, sub-par throughput, and limited deal history. Over the past few years, there is an increasing need for a robust bid management software to automate and streamline the manual process of creating and submitting proposals and driving of RFXs forward. The growth and advancements of tools supporting a bid response process are touching new heights leading to an end-to-end process that empowers business development teams to enhance their winning performance through improved efficiency and effectiveness of the bid process.
Let’s look at some current trends that are shaping up and are forecasted to grow in the future.
To qualify for inclusion in the Bid Management suite, a product must:
- Create or support the creation of a request for response (RFP)
- Have an artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) led intelligent answer or content library
- Have a single, synchronized repository of the data across the bid components
- Integrate bid pricing & approval platform with a project dashboard
- Include bid reporting dashboard
- Provide templated or customizable bid forms
- Ensure data security & compliances
- Integrate seamlessly with CRM systems bi-directionally
- Be scalable, cloud-enabled & future-ready architecture
AI led recommendation engine
From Siri to self-driving cars, AI is progressing rapidly and is powering incredible technologies from Google’s search algorithms to IBM’s Watson to autonomous weapons.
In the context of the RFP process, there is an increased demand for an AI-driven assistant that understands RFPs and can leverage a library of responses to auto-suggest functionality and quickly answer questions by including the right contributors. The more you use it, the more precise the recommendations become. The AI led assistance engine can also automatically generate a first draft of your proposal by analyzing and extracting knowledge from past RFPs, proposals, and other documents to find answers to common questions instead of writing the same content repetitively. With advanced ML tools, your assistant gets smarter over time, so that experts never have to answer the same question more than once.
Content Libraries and Repositories
Although there are many strong internal systems and knowledge portals to store the proposals data, using them effectively for proposal development remains a challenge as it consumes time and manual effort when the proposal reaches in development stages. Typically, the RFP response team would comb through previous RFP responses stored in documents and spreadsheets in order to find relevant answers due to a lack of efficient & single technology solution.
Thankfully, things are evolving and in the next few years not only will content finally be in one central spot, but also easily discoverable. You will be able to search for a phrase or text and insert it into your new proposal. What it means is – the technology is keeping track of your content—not you.
Streamlined Team Collaboration
“Bring your entire team into the unified system to control work, tasks, and milestones”
As business becomes increasingly global and cross-functional, silos are breaking down, connectivity is increasing, and teamwork is a key to organizational success. According to HBR data, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.
An RFP response process is only as good as the people behind it including the contributors, solution SMEs, pricing team and bid managers.
Technology can now enable the RFP author or manager to use communication tools like chat, work more closely with one another, assign multiple reviewers or tag a stakeholder for input with a deadline, solve uncertainties and track all comments. Effective collaboration is ultimately the key to a successful RFP response & it can only happen with the latest advancements that make it a seamless, efficient process.
Bid Management Dashboard
There is certainly a great need for a data-driven, visible, real-time bid dashboard for monitoring & tracking the deals that can provide the exact status of the RFPs where one can see the bid overview details in a dashboard: deadlines, progress completion, and author and reviewer summaries. New insightful dashboards will promote interdepartmental collaboration due to its flexible access and usability.
Data Security by Design
With stringent data and privacy regulations, organizations acknowledge the necessity for a deep focus on how the customer data is collected, processed and stored and appropriate measures adopted to overcome these issues.
The bid management software that stores data from multiple clients, needs to ensure data protection and security challenges are addressed. Adequate measures are now taken to segregate customer data from being accessed by unauthorized users either by accident or through malicious attacks. Some latest trends in bid management suggests storing the customer data in a dedicated database or dedicated storage buckets with password protection, secured encryption of all data at rest & data in transit, implementation of multi-factor authentication and authorization to verify every request.
In conclusion, the RFP software helps deliver augmented value by improving and streamlining processes and not just production. This paves way for a highly successful and targeted bid strategy and allows team members to channel their collective acumen for quality customer submissions.