With all the recent buzz around RFP automation, it’s easy to forget that automation is already an integral part of our everyday lives. Automation powers everything from smart home devices to word processing software that checks your grammar. In the proposal industry specifically, its purpose is to simplify your RFP process, allowing you to respond to bids quickly and efficiently.
Not everything you hear or read about RFP automation is true. No, it won’t write the whole proposal for you! But, what it can do is take the tedious and repetitive tasks typically performed by humans and complete them at a much faster pace. At The Bid Lab, we know there are countless misconceptions out there about what automation does and the capabilities of RFP software. Time to settle in and get ready for some myth-busting!
1. Automation is going to phase out my job.
We tend to see this myth circulating in all industries where automation is present. Yet, the likelihood you’d lose your job because of it is fairly rare. For proposal writers, the idea that RFP automation might make your job redundant or less important is completely false. Although it’s useful for simple, time-consuming tasks that don’t require much thought, automation falls short in myriad ways. RFP software can’t think strategically or emotionally, which is essential when you’re trying to develop a proposal that resonates with the issuer. Automation software doesn’t take into account that your client values transparency or that you’re involved in the community where that company is located. It does only what you tell and teach it to do. Technology can never compete with your complex, inherently human level of thinking.
2. The technology I need is too expensive.
Of course, automation software that a small business deems “too expensive” may be reasonably-priced to a large corporation. It’s a major expense and one you should be prepared for. Still, there are many RFP software on the market that are worth the investment, so long as they increase your efficiency without sacrificing quality. Determine what tasks you’re looking to automate and research budget-friendly software that meets this criteria. Remember, you don’t need to automate every single step of your RFP process. And you shouldn’t. While we agree that this technology is expensive, it actually saves you money in the long term. When your team is equipped with the right tools, the increased productivity results in a higher RFP response rate.
3. RFP automation is only useful for RFPs.
This is like saying that automation is only useful and relevant in the proposal industry. A notable benefit of RFP technology is that it’s so versatile. In fact, you can use it to inform Requests for Information (RFIs), Due Diligence Questionnaires (DDQs), Security Questionnaires (SQs), and any other Q&A-style information requests. Automation software makes this possible by centralizing knowledge for easy application to any type of question and answer format. The content within this central repository is also valuable for all teams in an organization. For example, your company can easily access this information to assist in training, supporting customers, creating proactive proposals, and storing internal content.
4. I don’t have to review or update my content anymore.
It’s true that RFP automation reduces some of the heavy-lifting associated with the revision and maintenance process. However, your software isn’t going to intuitively know that you updated sections like pricing. You still need to spend time curating and maintaining your content to keep your response quality consistent. RFP software does make outdated content more apparent though. It often has the functionality to automate reviews, notifying team members when it’s time to update content. It also helps to selectively feed new content back into your central repository each time you complete a response. RFP automation certainly streamlines your content reviews, but it doesn’t completely eliminate the need for them.
5. It won’t work for me if my RFPs are highly customized.
If you relate to this sentiment, you’re probably considering the overall look of your RFP rather than the individual pieces of content that go into it. No two bids are exactly alike; but, there is specific content you use repeatedly in each and every proposal. Some of this includes company legal names and DBAs, contact information, references and certifications. There are always questions you anticipate to be in a proposal, regardless of structure. RFP software can automate the formatting of your proposal, but its main purpose is to centralize content you can easily reuse. The more content you gather within this repository, the more information you’ll have to choose from when it comes to highly-customized RFPs.
6. Proposal software takes ages to implement.
The beauty of this technology is that you can implement as slowly or quickly as you want. The lengthiest part of the process involves setting up your content library, which you probably already have in some form. Chances are, vendors are willing to work with you on an implementation plan that addresses your needs. You may want to start small and build your automation process over time, or you may prefer to do most of the work upfront. It’s entirely up to you! But with change comes a learning curve, so don’t expect your team to be experts in the software right away. A little guidance from you or the vendor can go a long way. Make sure the solution you choose is user-friendly and adds to productivity. If your team is spending the whole time trying to figure out how it works, they won’t be able to get much done.
We hope we’ve cleared the air and relieved your fears and hesitations around RFP automation. Here at The Bid Lab, automation is an essential part of ensuring success and on-time RFP submission for our clients. If you need help automating your process or deciding which software is right for you, contact us! To learn more about the specific tasks that work well with automation, check out our article “10 Tasks Proposal Automation Can Simplify For You.” It provides a more in-depth look into the types of automation that are useful for each stage of the RFP process!