Should You Use RFP Software To Draft Your Next Bid

Should You Use RFP Software To Draft Your Next Bid
Should You Use RFP Software To Draft Your Next Bid

Post Written By Maurice Harary, Forbes Councils Member

In the ultra-competitive world of request for proposals (RFPs), artificial intelligence is an increasingly tempting resource for firms searching for any advantage they can get over their fellow bidders. These organizations recognize the transformative potential of winning a strategic RFP and are understandably intrigued by the promise of automated and scalable support to help them succeed.

We can all understand the appeal of automating the process, but the question remains whether a bid software solution is your organization’s best next move. The answer may not be as automatic as you’d hope.

Automated RFP tools almost always promise to empower in-house employees to complete RFPs faster than doing so in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. AI platforms may even pre-fill RFP responses based on previous proposal submissions. Prices range dramatically depending on client budget, but typically charge per user or per implementation. This can keep costs relatively consistent, but won’t necessarily expand an organization’s RFP reach in a major way.

Thus, while bid software can be incredibly helpful as a timesaver, especially when it comes to frequently used response formats, even the most intelligent systems need a person to drive proposals to the finish line.

Speaking of driving, consider for a moment the ongoing challenges facing truly autonomous vehicles. Software developed by Tesla and others is making great strides in simple pattern recognition, long-distance highway driving and more. Yet unexpected obstacles like rushing pedestrians, snow-covered roads or irrational drivers (as a New-York-based company, we can attest there are many) continue to pose a significant challenge to safely navigating roads sans driver.

The same is true with bid software. Ask anyone experienced in the world of RFPs, and you will learn that a crucial component of winning a bid is overcoming the obstacles that stand in your way and expertly navigating around them. Broken down in small parts, driving — or writing an RFP — can seem simple. But, taken holistically, both require more than the current capabilities of AI. AI can insert responses where they shouldn’t go, or insert the wrong answer. With RFP stakes being so high (as your responses are generally contractually binding), having a wrong answer can expose you to risk and be extremely costly down the line. You just can’t trust a machine to take care of the entire RFP process. 

That being said, software systems offer some impressive efficiencies. For an organization pursuing hundreds of bids per year, even modest economizations can add up to significant savings. But, in our experience, the best approach is usually one that combines the utility of the best software systems with the creativity of a person committed to the RFP’s success.

This partner does not have to necessarily be a consultant, but can also be an in-house employee. When you utilize an in-house employee, make sure that you provide them with ample support and time to focus on the RFP, as opposed to simply adding this new business function to an already full plate of responsibilities. And, if your budget permits, make sure the in-house employee has some training and/or has taken a course to teach them RFP best practices.

When deadlines are tight, requirements are precise, and the opportunity to transform your business is huge, there is no substitute for a dedicated person to help you navigate the RFP process successfully. Artificial intelligence is a valuable tool in this process, but it is not a sufficient partner in and of itself. At least, not yet. 

Forbes Article Link: Should You Use RFP Software To Draft Your Next Bid