Agile proposal development and the virtual world

By Kirsteen Scott

In recent years, the term ‘agile’ has become a major trend for adaptive business practices but it's more than just a buzzword. Agile proposal development moves rigid, traditional methods into a more flexible and collaborative way of working for better results. This is particularly relevant in the current climate where businesses all over the world are navigating working amid a global pandemic.  

The dictionary definition of the word ‘agile’ is ‘the ability to move quickly and easily.’ In a business sense, it’s all about approaching proposal development with a flexible approach, valuing teamwork and collaboration above the process itself. Paul Allsopp, the founder of The Agile Organisation summarises:  

“Agile working is about bringing people, processes, connectivity and technology, time and place together to find the most appropriate and effective way of working to carry out a particular task. It is working within guidelines (of the task) but without boundaries (of how you achieve it).” 

Agile vs traditional 

Traditional methods of managing proposals follow a linear structure, in a similar way to the ‘waterfall’ methodology used in software development. This is where you move from one stage of the project to another - for example, first draft to review and then on to the second draft without any room for adapting. This might begin by getting everyone into a room to discuss the RFP (Request for Proposal) and how your organisation might respond to it. 

Agile proposal development takes a flexible approach, focusing on collaboration and how the proposal team work together to produce the proposal. A popular way of doing this is using the ‘scrum’ framework. This involves working in sprints, splitting up tasks over short periods of time, in a similar manner to approaching the management of other projects. 

In this type of approach, each person in the proposal team is given a particular role such as proposal manager, proposal writer and customer representative, to ensure that the necessary input is given and the project keeps moving forward. Technology and the various tools it gives us access to, has made this type of working evolve, a thought echoed by Carrie Ratcliff, managing director of 21rw: “Fast forward 25 years and technology has completely transformed how we do proposals. What had to be done onsite in a war room can now be done nearly 100 per cent virtually.” 

Collaboration and software tools 

Software tools are key to facilitating an agile approach to proposal management. With a large number of workforces working remotely at the moment, software solutions become necessary in place of having face to face meetings, streamlining the number of emails going back and forth about a single project. Proposal management software brings everything into one place so you can focus on the proposal itself. 

A robust solution like PleaseReview provides secure and easy access to the real-time document in progress. The tasks identified within a sprint can be assigned to the relevant stakeholders within the software, with a deadline attached. Automatic email reminders are sent out and as the proposal manager, you’ll have real-time visibility as to who has or hasn’t reviewed the document before implementing these changes and moving on to the next sprint task.  

Reviewers and stakeholders can work on the same document in real-time, without creating any conflicting versions or overriding changes. Everything is saved as a suggested edit for the document owner to review and implement where appropriate. Eliminating time-consuming admin tasks simplifies the agile approach, paving the way for more productive collaboration.  

APMP virtual conference 

We were due to attend the annual bids and proposals conference hosted by APMP from the 17th to 20th May which brings together professionals in the field for discussions on various topics relating to bids and proposals. Due to the current climate, we’ve decided to take our event stand online instead, recreating what we would be offering at the conference, allowing you to tune in remotely. Join us and talk to our experts about the benefits that document collaboration software can bring to agile proposal development.  

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