Generating proposals is one of the most important tasks for A/E/C firms. For many firms, however, proposal preparation remains a manual process.
Once a lead is identified, the marketing staff mobilizes by pulling information such as company history, resumes and related experience from existing files. The drawback with this approach is that the information in the files is often outdated. For example, if a proposal is for the development of a prison, the firm's history related to prisons might not reflect additional prison projects that have been completed since that file was last updated.
Another drawback to the manual approach is the amount of time and effort required to complete proposals. For instance, the process at L. Robert Kimball & Associates, Ebensburg, Pa., used to take as long three to four days, says Robert J. Iacaruso, director of information services for the engineer/architect.
Now, with the use of client relationship management and marketing automation software, it takes the firm just two to three hours to prepare a proposal. The program searches an internal database for all information related to a proposed job, thereby automating the process. Iacaruso says the firm chose Wind2 Software Inc.'s Wind2Award!, in part because of its ability to handle SF 254 and SF 255 forms for government work.
The proposal generation process for a prison job, for example, begins with the software's Proposal Generator, which incorporates tabs for key components of a proposal, including: cover page, letter, introduction, project approach, schedule, project organization, project experience, resumes and staff, references, scope of work and appendices. Working in one of these sections, the user enters the word "prisons" and the software draws information from a database specific to the firm's prison work. For instance, it would list all past prisons, the clients, location, completion date and cost, as well as the resumes for all personnel with prison-related experience.
The user then goes through the list and picks which items should be included in the proposal. He or she can also query the database if more information is needed. For example, a list of consultants with prison expertise might be necessary.
The software works with Microsoft Word, so the selected text, graphics and other information retrieved from the database appear directly in the Word document. For government proposals, the information appears directly in the SF 254/SF 255 forms.
Once a proposal is created, the project is transferred to Award!CRM. Sales staff and management use this module to track the status of a submission and see what follow up is necessary and when.
"We produce reports for the sales staff showing all of their follow-up items," Iacaruso explains. "With this more consistent follow-up, we increase our chance of winning the job."
Iacaruso says his firm also finds the software useful in other ways. "If I'm going to a function and know there will be clients there, I can query the database and see what work we did for them in the past," he explains. "Or, if a salesman is driving through his territory, calls on a major company and wonders if we have ever done any work for them, he can access the database and see that perhaps there was a salesman in there two years ago but nothing came of it. With that information, he can do a better job of approaching that company again."
For more information on Wind2Award!, visit Wind2 Software's Web site at www.wind2.com .