Archive for Capture and Proposal Management

The Power of CorasWorks Rollups–10 Years Later

It really amazes me.  We are coming up on our 10 Year anniversary on February 7th.  We first introduced the term “rollups” in 2003 with our first technology product the CorasWorks Rollup Suite.  This week I was on a call where the customer was trying to solve a seemingly intractable problem around Proposal Management that was killing her teams productivity.  In 30 minutes the solution was in place.  Effectively, it was a rollup: classic CorasWorks, same problem, and, still the best thing since the Post It note for SharePoint business users.  In this article, I’ll give some background on the “rollup” and explain how it solved this customers problem who needed to see new information and act on it from across 100 Proposal Sites.

The Rollup

We invented the Rollup in 2003 to meet a core issue with SharePoint.  SharePoint 2003 focused on an Enterprise Portal.  With that, on the side you had this capability to have these little team sites.  But, there was no connection between the two except the ability to see a listing of the sites one level down from the portal.  We knew that at the end of the day, the collaborative sites would be the key to creating collaborative work management solutions for business and that this is really where the productivity is.  We knew that they’d have deep hierarchies and that people would want to share and work in those little team sites.  BTW, in 2003, other collaborative products like eRoom also saw the world as a bunch of disconnected sites (rooms), so, the siloed approach of SharePoint 2003 team sites was not alone.

So, in order for us to build the business solutions we needed as part of an inter-connected work environment, we created the “rollup”.  This technology allowed you to very easily create a display that would allow you to connect to information anywhere across the SharePoint environment (across data types, lists/libraries, sites, site collections, and web applications).  Accordingly, from a single display you could see any content from across SharePoint – filter it, search it, contribute and act on it. Effectively, what we did is separate the end user display and actions from the data.  You could now work from anywhere and anything could be at your fingertips.  What business users got was convenience, visibility and productivity.

Quickly, the CorasWorks rollup display became the standard for connecting to distributed information on SharePoint.  It was used in three key scenarios: a) to cross-connect to information in other sites and get work done and b) to connect to a number of similar types of sites, like projects or proposals, and aggregate the information and c) as the core grid-style display to build collaborative business applications where users could see, contribute, and act on information in a structured, business context.

Over the years, our approach has matured a lot.  We now just talk in terms of web-based business applications and custom displays.  The capabilities are multi-tier with Wizards at the Display level and to automate work with CorasWorks actions.  Our displays can connect to external information and mash it up.  And, more and more…

Yet, fundamentally it is still about enabling people to work with information across the distributed work environment that is SharePoint.

Our Proposal Management Scenario

Now, roll the story 10 years ahead to this week.  I was on the phone working with a Program Manager for an organization where we are implementing an IDIQ Task Order Management solution in a business group.  This PM also has a team of people that drive and manage RFP proposals.  While we were talking she told me about a pain point with the proposal work and asked if we could help.  Here is the background:

  • They have another place (a Site Collection) where they are doing proposal development in native SharePoint (we haven’t gotten to upgrading this to CW yet)
  • They have 6 Business Groups
  • Each Business Group has their own section
  • Each business group manage their own Proposals
  • Each proposal has its own site
  • Each site has a document library with about 8 folders representing different parts of proposal work
  • Each folder has documents in it or could have documents in it

In order to know what is new, i.e., what is going on and what needs to be done, a Proposal person (on her team) has to go into each proposal site and check all of the folders.  You could say that they could get emails, but, unfortunately, that is if email notification is enabled, if her person gets it, and, if they see it and remember.  If you miss something, it is your fault for missing a deadline.  So, her team does a tremendous amount of navigating and checking.

So, what she asked for was a magical way for her team to have a single Dashboard/Work Console where they could go to one page to see all of the new documents that have been added or modified across all of the Business Groups, Proposal Sites and Folders.  And, she wanted her people to be able to act on them from the Work Console (like pop off emails, change status, etc.) without going anywhere else.  Tall order?

If took me about 30 minutes.  We deployed a CorasWorks Work Console.  We dropped on a Display (formerly known as a “rollup”).  We cross-connected it to the various business groups and configured it to pick up the appropriate information across the proposals and the folders.  Viola, all of the new work in the last 7 days was in the display.  Then, I had her go in and customize the display to meet her needs and create a couple new ones that sliced and diced the information differently.  We then added some actions to automate her work.

To say the least, she was amazed and wanted to jump off the phone to show her team.  I hate to say it, but, I’d estimate that 80% of SharePoint users think that they need to navigate around from site to site looking for information.  They have to go somewhere to do work.  It seems ridiculous given a work environment 10 years later.  But, most people think of SharePoint as siloed sites that you go to.  That is what the Internet is – right?  The ability for our little, old “rollup” to make this huge pain go away is just awesome.

If you know of anyone that is experiencing this type of pain, then, have them call the CorasWorks Solution Hotline at 1-866-580-3115 and just have them ask for relief from work druggery.  We’ll take care of the rest.

Smile

william

IDIQ Task Order Management as a Shared Service on SharePoint

We are doing a lot of work enabling Federal Contractors with IDIQ Task Order Management solutions.  When we first got going with this solution a year ago we focused on the IDIQ/GWAC center that was managed at the Corporate level.  Very quickly it started to integrate with the Capture and Proposal work.  Then, it moved out to serve the needs of the business groups.  Today, we are enabling most of our customers in a Shared Services model powered by CorasWorks within a SharePoint work environment.  I’ll talk about this.

Larger Federal Contractors usually have a Proposal Center.  They may have a corporately managed IDIQ/GWAC center.  The problem is that these capabilities only address the top of the pyramid.  The rest of work, that happens at the Business Group level, is usually very, very ad hoc using the tools of email and excel.

The nirvana is to get each group what they need but to do it in a way that enables corporate standards and operational leverage.  For years, organizations have lived with a pendulum that swings between centralization and decentralization.  With each swing somebody loses.  Effectively, our Shared Services model strikes a working balance that supports both centralization and local optimization.

With our Shared Services model we usually go through a few phases of adoption as follows.

First, we usually take care of the Corporate level.  This entails putting in or augmenting the Proposal Center and often adding in the core IDIQ Task Order Management capability.  We then integrate the IDIQ work into the Proposal System and other enterprise systems including CRM (often Deltek GovWin CRM), their Contract Administration system, and HR recruiting systems.

We then enable corporate to serve up IDIQ Task Order Management to the business groups.  The key is that each business groups needs to have it slightly their way.  Their needs often differ from Corporate (usually much deeper where they have to do most of their own proposals and be concerned about downstream work – after they’ve won), between business groups, and, even between IDIQs (like the reporting requirements and the Partners they are working with).

Accordingly, what we provide is a standard, base IDIQ Task Order Management solution.  This can then be cloned and customized to meet the needs of each business group and even down to the IDIQ level.  Yet, it is all part of your enterprise shared application service and also of the shared SharePoint work environment.  So, corporate capabilities can be standardized and made available as part of the Shared Service to the business groups across the enterprise.  Examples are Proposal Requests and Management, Gate Reviews, Supporting Processes (such as HR Staffing Requests and Conflict of Interest checks), Standards (CMMI, PMO, Partner Onramping), and Knowledge Repositories (such as Pricing, Forms, and Past Performance that are shared with security and in context).

It sum, it becomes a standardized, integrated, yet, distributed and locally optimized system.  You might say that it is a system of systems.  The key is that Corporate is not completely in control.  Corporate has enabled the business groups to have flexibility.  The business groups can optimize the way they work, but, do it within constraints that maintain control and the ability to centrally manage the shared infrastructure.  It is truly amazing what results you can achieve when you hit the right balance between the needs of business groups and corporate.

With this shared services model you get the best of both worlds: central control and standardization, but, the ability for the business groups to get what they need to optimize their work.  And, of course in this model the cost is far lower to support and deliver what users need across the board.

If you visit our Federal Contractor micro-site and review the case studies you’ll get a sense of how this approach has worked with different customers of different sizes and with different solutions.

William

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See additional articles for IDIQ Task Order Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.

CorasWorks’ Federal Contractor Business Grows 75% in 2012 Fueled by Accelerating Industry Competition–Review and 2013 Plans

In 2012, we started our Federal Government Contractor practice.  Federal Contractors (including Aerospace & Defense providers) have been a significant part of CorasWorks’ business since we began in 2003.  In 2012, we created a dedicated team to focus on this industry and build and deliver industry specific solutions.  With the increased competition in this industry in recent years and the threat of the Fiscal Cliff and Sequestration in 2013 – we figured it was the perfect time to engage deeply and help our customers Do More for Less and drive their competitive position.  We focused on solutions for the internal operations of Federal Contractors.  In this article, I do a review of our work in this industry in 2012 and provide you with a heads up of our plans for 2013.

2012 in Review

  • Our business with Federal Government contractors for internal use grew 75%, making it our fastest growing industry segment last year
  • We served a broad group of Top 100 Federal Contractors such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Rockwell-Collins, HP Enterprise Services, Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, Serco, Chenega and Salient.
  • We focused our industry-specific solution investment in solutions for Business Development (BD) Operations, particularly IDIQ-based activities for Prime and Sub-contractors – a major area of intense competition in 2012 and going forward.
  • We expanded our BD solution set to integrate with existing Proposal Development applications and introduced solutions for Capture & Proposal Management providing comprehensive visibility and process management for BD operations
  • We began the process of cross-industry pollination, by bringing solutions from other industry customers into Federal Contractors such as Idea Challenge Management and Work Management for Engineering and Resource Planning and Program Management/Delivery based upon the CorasWorks Project Portfolio Management solution
  • We continued to expand our footprint in the Federal Government (Military and Civilian) with large deployments in the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines that enables Federal Contractors to leverage CorasWorks on SharePoint to deliver more competitive services and systems to their customers.

We learned a great deal more about the industry, the solutions, and the way of working within Federal Contractors over the year.  It is pretty clear that the internal operations of Federal Contractors have a lot of room to benefit by increased efficiency and effectiveness.  The BD area of IDIQ work was a real winner where most customers have a) older, legacy systems or b) nothing but email (NBE).  We’ve taken this segment to a new level in terms of lower cost and higher efficiency and effectiveness.  The best testament of our success with BD solutions and in other Federal Contractor business functions are our Customer Successes.  You can read about these by looking at articles of this blog (See Category of Federal Government Contractors, with 9 articles, or by a specific solution Category) or reading about our Solutions and Case Studies at our Federal Contractor micro-site of the CorasWorks web site.

What’s Ahead in 2013

Sequestration still looms. Continued increase in competition is a fact.  To help you compete, we are pushing our Collaborative Work Management solutions for Federal Contractors forward in 2013 in the following areas:

  • We will continue our focus on solutions for BD Operations.  Here you simply have to be at your best.  We will continue to move our IDIQ oriented solutions forward to make our customers the top in internal efficiency and effectiveness and the robustness of partner engagement.  We are also deepening our integration and support for Capture & Proposal Management activities and integration with third-party legacy applications for CRM (notably Deltek GovWin’s CRM), ERP, HR, and Contract Administration.
  • We are “verticalizing” the CorasWorks Project Portfolio Management solution to more specifically support work for Program Management, Delivery and Operations in Federal Contractors (what you do after you win the business – the downstream activities).
  • We are deepening our presence in the Engineering business function by bringing Engineering solutions from other industries into the Federal Contractor space, such as Engineering Work Management, Configuration Management, Idea and Innovation Management, Resource Planning and Demand Management.  This need is being accelerated as our customers start separating their services business from their systems businesses and are looking to set new benchmarks in the management of globally distributed engineering resources.
  • We will continue to expand our set of solutions for cross-functional activities with corporate functions such as HR, IT, Finance, and Legal and cross-pollinate these solutions into our customer base.
  • We are putting new programs in place to help our Federal Contractor customers build CorasWorks competencies internally that help them be more competitive when delivering solutions to Federal customers that leverage SharePoint – a growing segment of the services sector.

CorasWorks – At Your Service

In 2013, it is not going to get any easier to win business or deliver it profitably.  The way to succeed is by getting better and being more innovative.  As part of this we feel that you truly do need to a) eliminate the noise of redundant, ad hoc, wasted activity, b) break the silos, and c) provide the visibility and embedded collaboration to focus resources when and where you need it.

As innovative leaders in Collaborative Work Management solutions on SharePoint and with our focus on Federal Government Contractors we can help you get you where you want and need to be – more quickly, at less cost and with less risk.  We look forward to serving you in 2013.

william

$250M Federal Contractor Leverages CorasWorks to Bring Together Integrated Business Development System

This story gets to the heart of how CorasWorks can be leveraged to bring together distributed enterprise systems and integrate them to create a new corporate capability.  In the article, we’ll go through the steps of how a fast-growing $250 Million revenue Federal Contractor used CorasWorks to put in place an integrated work management system for Business Development.

The Situation

Over the last year, our customer started investing in, winning and acquiring a number of new IDIQs as a Prime Contractor. They see the IDIQ Prime vehicle as a key strategic revenue driver.  They wanted to put in place a way of working that would provide Program Managers with an efficient and effective way of managing Task Orders from these IDIQs to win business.  The ideal solution would allow them to support multiple different IDIQs that were managed in the business groups, yet, leverage a central Proposal Management center and other corporate systems.  They wanted the best of both worlds: centralized and distributed.

Like most Federal Government Contractors, they had a stable of the standard, siloed, departmentally managed systems.  The diagram below lays them out: CRM, Proposal Development, HR Recruiting/Resumes, and Contract Management.  The question was how could they implement a new capability for managing the IDIQs and Task Orders that would bring these different systems together into an integrated system.

 

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The Solution

The solution was to leverage CorasWorks on SharePoint.  CorasWorks v11 software and solutions were used to create the new core IDIQ Task Order Management system and to integrate, enhance and extend the other systems.  Microsoft SharePoint provides the foundation for data, security and administration.

How They Did It

The following goes through the sequence of steps of how they brought it all together.

Upgraded Proposal Development System

Their existing system was focused on the proposal development process based upon native SharePoint and the Lohfeld Consulting Group’s Capture & Proposal Management methodology.  They upgraded their existing system system to become a CorasWorks-based system while maintaining the Lohfeld methodology.  This new sub-system became more efficient and more easily opened up to integrate with the other elements of the overall system (see this article for the Top 7 Enhancements of Capture & Proposal Management Systems using CorasWorks).

Implement Core IDIQ Task Order Management System

They then implemented the standard CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management system on SharePoint.  This includes IDIQ Program Management sites for the Program Managers to manage the overall process and the integration working sites for each task order.  They also implemented a standard design for the Teaming Partner Portal and Engagement of Partners, and, set the standard for customer portals for reporting.

Integrating with GovWin CRM and Proposal Management

Next was the integration of the core systems that are part of the primary work stream.  In this case, they wanted to insure that their GovWin CRM was the source for all opportunities including new Task Orders. Leveraging CorasWorks the CRM opportunities were integrated into the IDIQ TOM system.  Then, instead of using separate Task Order working sites, they used the CorasWorks-based IDIQ TOM system to auto-provisioning working sites within the Proposal Management Center.  These working sites now became a mix between Task order working sites and Proposal Development sites so that they would have a single site that would support the life cycle of a Task Order.

Tying In Supporting Systems

The HR and Contract Management systems are supporting systems that are commonly leveraged during the process.  During the process of working on Task Orders and Proposals, they need to interact with the HR recruiting staff who leverages their custom HR resume system.  In addition, they integrated with their Contract Management system to access information and store completed contracts.

The Resulting System of Systems for BD

With the approach above, they successfully deployed this system of systems for Business Development and are off and running.  The Proposal Center manages more than 400 proposals/task orders per year.

The result is that the Program Manager is able to get a 360 degree view of an IDIQ and each Task Order from a single CorasWorks Console.  They can manage the process and access the relevant information in supporting systems.  In addition, a key element of the overall design is that they are able to rapidly create new IDIQ sub-systems that are tweaked to the needs of each Program Manager.  Thus, they do get the best of both worlds: a localized solution for each IDIQ and the centralized management of separate departmental systems.

William

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See additional articles for IDIQ Task Order Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks IDIQ Task Order Management for product information.

Social Collaboration at Work– 4 business scenarios to drive value

Today, I did a presentation for the internal SharePoint Community of Practice (COP) for a large (Top 50) Federal Systems Integrator.  This COP is 700 people.  They have a current topical focus on Social Collaboration.  Microsoft gave a presentation a few weeks back on the Social Collaboration features of SP2013.  In my presentation, I introduced and demoed 4 different business solutions where social collaboration is being used in a business process/application.  These were all based upon the CorasWorks Cim™ solution framework.  For those of you interested in the potential of Social Collaboration on SharePoint, and, looking for hard-hitting business scenarios that demonstrate the value – this article is for you….

My presentation abstract was as follows:

Social Collaboration at Work (www.corasworks.net)

Social collaboration within SharePoint makes it easier for people to engage.  So how do you leverage this approach to drive organizational results?  In this presentation, we’ll look at four practical business scenarios where social collaboration is used to drive business results.  The scenarios are:

· Idea Challenge Management – purposeful, event based challenges to drive ideas and manage them through a review and approval process

· R&D Working Groups – designated working groups that then output results as proposals for new projects

· New Project Initiation – collaborative, stage-gate based process to review and approve new project proposals (partials feed from working groups)

· Collaborative Channels for Capture & Proposal Management – communities used for collaboration across a distributed capture and proposal management system

Let’s look at each of the business scenarios above…

Idea Challenge Management

The area of Idea & Innovation Management is pretty hot and ripe for social collaboration.  Organizations know that Innovation is necessary to succeed (and survive).  But, how to move the ball forward is a challenge.

We have found the most effective approach is for organizations to use Idea Challenges vs. creating a general idea “inbox”.  Challenges are typically event-based (time limited), purposeful, and, sponsored by a team who is responsible AND interested in reviewing and using the results.

The solution I showed provides organizations with the ability to spawn new Challenges.  These are sites and they are created and configured by the sponsor in a self-service way to meet the needs of the Challenge.  The Challenges are then exposed across the SharePoint environment.  People respond, contribute ideas, and collaborate using Star Ratings, Commenting, Document Upload and management, Peer Reviews, Sharing.  The Challenge managers have a robust stage-gate process to screen, review, and decide on the ideas. Of course, being CorasWorks-based the structured work management part is also greatly and easily customized to meet the needs of the specific team that sponsored the challenge.

R&D Working Groups

This solution addresses a scenario where you have multiple/many working groups where each is expected to have an output – a document, a project proposal for funding, a discovery, a new policy.  A Working Group differs from say a collaborative team site because an output is expected.  Each group is a community where the members collaborate.  Then, when they have something to output, from within their working group they have one or more channels to kick off the output process.

In the solution that I showed, the output of the R&D Working Groups is a project proposal for funding.  From within the Working Group site, they access a New Proposal “community” and post a form for the project proposal that goes to a central management team.  The central team reviews and works the proposals through a funding process.  The output side is also highly collaborative and visible with members of the Working Group able to interact with the central management team and with all others that are watching and collaborating across the system.  (Note that all Working Groups are feeding the central Project Proposal process – see NPI below).

New Project Initiation

This solution is for the “demand management” part of project management – the front end part where you determine which projects you will invest in.  It is a challenge to do this part well.  A good process means less duplication, more visibility, and more commitment to the projects that are funded.  To accomplish this, we showed how this process could be made more transparent and collaborative.

Actually, the demo I showed had the New Project Initiation process receiving the project proposals from the R&D Working Groups above.  Thus, when the various R&D Working Groups submitted a proposal, they all feed this process.  In addition, individuals can also directly submit proposals.

All of the proposals are seen by the entire R&D working community so you get the transparency and visibility.  Each proposal is then centrally managed through a stage-gate process.  Along the way the managers are able to collaborate with the proposals submitters and “watchers”.  In addition, the managers collaborate amongst themselves such as doing collaborative reviews.  Here they can Rate, Comment, and Score proposals separate from the general community.  This solution has all of formal features you’d expect such as portfolio management, downstream project/portfolio integration and extensive reporting.

Collaborative Channels

This is the simplest of the 4 solutions.  The scenario was a Capture & Proposal Management system for a Federal Contractor.  These are large systems with people working in many sites (100’s – Program Management, Proposal Sites, IDIQ Management, Task Order sites).  The challenge is how do you communicate and collaborate amongst this distributed “working community”.  For instance, if there are new forms, new policies, challenges, needs for a resource – how does the community know of this and how can they engage and collaborate.

The answer is Collaborative Channels.  What I showed was the Business Development Channel.  It is a community of sorts except it IS NOT a place you go to collaborate.  Rather within each of the hundreds of sites, users have access to the Channel.  There they can post, share information, and, collaborate.  Thus, no matter where someone is working across this “work community”, they have access to the Channel.  This Channel approach is a great way to get people working together across the distributed environment of SharePoint.  Think departments, business functions (sales, engineering, bd, global branch offices, plants, et al).

Wrap Up

The objective of this presentation was to get people thinking about the business value that social collaboration can bring.  In general, we start with the business application/process (often existing) and ask how can this process be improved by opening it up to greater engagement and collaboration.  Accordingly, we see social collaboration as a set of features that can be applied to business as opposed to something that adds value on its own.

In addition, if you review the above scenarios you will see my use of the term “working community”.  In most social collaboration feature-products (social-social) a community is a place you go.  In the above, there is a business context to each.  Thus, the idea of the “working community” is everyone that is interested in or should be a part of outputting the best work results.  Accordingly, you see that all of the business solutions span multiple sites and an entire SharePoint environment.  All part of bringing a broad set of people together and putting them to work.

So, that is a wrap on Social Collaboration at Work for now.  If you would like a private demonstration of these scenarios ping me or CorasWorks.

william

Top 7 Enhancements for Capture and Proposal Management on SharePoint

SharePoint is broadly adopted by the Federal Government Contractor community for use in proposal development activities.  Leading organizations are leveraging CorasWorks to enhance and extend their existing capabilities to drive towards more efficient, effective and comprehensive capture and proposal management systems. In this article, I’ll walk through the top 7 enhancements that are most common amongst our customers and describe how they are leveraging the COTS software/flexible customization approach of CorasWorks on SharePoint.

Basic SharePoint Proposal Development

While SharePoint is broadly used, the level of use is typically rather basic and based upon document management features for just proposal development as opposed to a structured Capture process or as part of an integrated Proposal Management system.  For many, their approach is to use siloed SharePoint sites for managing documents within folders of SharePoint.  This approach is familiar to many long-time players as they have grown up this file/folder way of working.  It is a fine place to start (and we continue to support it), but, increased competition is driving organizations to raise their game to a new level.  They are leveraging us to be more efficient, to increase visibility and accountability, to cut out the noise of random and conflicting activities, to increase consistency and reduce risk, and overall, to increase the effectiveness of their investments.

Top 7 Enhancements for Capture and Proposal Management

In the following sections, I’ll briefly review each of the top 7 enhancements. While these are most common, they are not necessarily the ones applied by every organization nor are they the only enhancements we are delivering. The key here is the flexibility of CorasWorks to be used to drive you forward where and how you need it.  This flexibility includes support for standard approaches from consulting organizations such as capture processes by Lohfeld Consulting and color review stages by Shipley Associates, the ability to integrate with external CRM, HR, and ERP systems, and, the ability to accommodate the custom processes of each customer or even the differences between different groups within an organization.  Because most organizations have some basic SharePoint system in place, our approach is to enhance and extend rather that rip and replace with a completely new way of working.  On to the 7…

1. Capture & Proposal Process Management (PM)

As above, in most cases when we start, each proposal has been a single, siloed site.  Most organizations lack the top down process management capability that allows them to have a strong Capture process on the front end of proposal development and follow through to close out.  Thus, we usually start with an overall top level C&P Process Management site.  We set the stages and activities based upon the customers proprietary C&P process or leveraging the process of Lohfeld or another consulting organization.  This top level site captures all opportunities that have qualified for the C&P process as early as the Pursuit stage.  Along the way uses our auto-provisioning kicks off the Working Site where users manage information, activities and collaborate.  This provides you with the top down visibility and the ability to manage the pipeline of opportunities/RFPs across their life-cycle.  In addition, it provides you with the ability to automate the various activities that you want to happen at each stage.

Below is a screenshot that shows the various stages for a Lohfeld-style C&P process.  In addition, it shows a set of actions that have been made available at the Pre-Proposal stage.

(Click image for full screen view)

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2. Cross-folder/Library Document Visibility & Task Automation

Okay, so now we turn to a Working Site.  This is where the detailed information is stored and the activity is managed.  Our standard is to start off by supporting the classic native SharePoint approach of folders and documents (the Documents tab).  The next level is to move customers up to more robust document management by providing increased visibility and task automation.

Below is a screenshot of our cross-folder, cross-library document management view.  Users are able to see what documents are available across folders and sub-folders and different libraries – instead of having to hunt and peck.  In addition, they are able to select multiple documents (again across folders/libraries as shown below) and use an action to automatically perform a task.  Managers are able to choose actions that they want to be available and modify the actions to tweak their processes or to create their own as needed.  The result is a much more convenient and efficient way of working.

(Click image for full screen view)

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3. Master Knowledge Repositories and Fetch

C&P operations typically maintains shared knowledge such as Past Performance information, Policies, and standard Forms.  At best, these are usually siloed document libraries in SharePoint sites.  Many people are used to manually uploading these documents from their local drives into a proposal site.  A better way available with CorasWorks is to maintain centrally managed knowledge repositories that are interactively leveraged from where the users are working.  They can be centrally managed with structured approval processes.  Within each Working Site, users can access these repositories, search and filter, and then, they can “fetch” the information pulling a “hot” copy from the repository into the working site.  This drives greater efficiency and consistency.

4. Core and External Supporting Activities

Proposals don’t only include content (documents).  They also include activity – tasks that people need to perform to support the capture and proposal processes – often people outside of the core proposal team.  Within a working site you can spawn tasks of all sorts and drive the activity that needs to get done.  They can be standard core tasks such as assigning writer tasks or setting color reviews dates or kicking off a document review and comment cycle.  Or, they may be ad hoc tasks such as making requests for Vendor Reviews, Feasibility Studies, Conflict of Interest checks or Legal reviews. You can also create programmatic supporting activities when their frequency or importance is warranted.  For instance, you may create a permanent supporting activities with HR Recruiting so that each staffing request is funneled into their queue and then managed through a structure process.  All of these types of supporting activities can be accommodated and automated with CorasWorks to get people and teams to work more productively together.

5. Distributed Work Consoles

Using native SharePoint users have to do a lot of navigating to working proposal sites to see what work needs to get done and to do work.  With CorasWorks Work Consoles you can instead put the work right at the fingertips of users.  For instance, you can have a teaming partner or proposal vendor site where those people go to see and act on the things that they need to do.  With Work Consoles you can separately control what they see and what they can do without giving them full access to a working site.  These work consoles can be located anywhere across your SharePoint environment to optimize convenience.

6. Cross-Application/System Integration

Again, with CorasWorks your proposal sites are not siloed.  You can inter-connect any parts of your Capture and Proposal Management system with CRM systems such as Salesforce and Deltek CRM, HR systems such as Peoplesoft and Taleo, ERPs, contract management systems, custom external systems, and, any other SharePoint based systems such as CorasWorks IDIQ systems or other team sites or processes.  This is done through our advanced configuration and thus does not required custom code development and the associated cost and risk.

7. Cross-System Dashboards

Using CorasWorks you can create advanced dashboards that provide users with the charts, tabular reports, or interactive displays they want with information across the life-cycle.  The possibilities range from simple wizard driven reports and charts to customized user experiences using our advanced multi-tier framework.  The information can include information in SharePoint and/or any external information such as the systems referenced above (#6).  These dashboards can be interactive supporting drill-downs, pop-ups and dynamic query.  The result is increased visibility, accountability, and real time activity.

The Common Thread of CorasWorks C&P Enhancements

The primary thread across the above enhancements is the ability to go from a perspective of single proposal sites to a broader, more integrated, more automated capture and proposal management system.  It is a distributed system.  The system supports many proposals and each proposal is optimized to support the results of the system.

The key to our approach is that you can get to where you want to be in different ways and at the right time.  Each organization is different. While we provide you with the COTS software to enable you to enhance and extend your system at lower costs and risks we also provide you with the flexibility to customize the system to meet your needs today and evolve it as your needs change in the future.

William

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See additional articles for Capture and Proposal Management in this blog.

Visit CorasWorks Capture and Proposal Management for product information.

Full Service Proposal Center of Federal Contractor Driving $250 Million a Year in New Business

Many SharePoint users make use of team sites to manage individual proposals – primarily leveraging basic document management.  Most don’t get much further.  This leaves a vast untapped potential for driving Business Development results and efficiency waiting to be exploited.  Using CorasWorks, leading companies are making it happen…

One of our customers is a billion dollar plus Federal Government Contractor.  A few years ago they acquired a company that came with a proposal management system built with CorasWorks on SharePoint.  They adopted it and have since enhanced and extended the system to serve as a full service Proposal Center supporting 400 proposal projects per year, in a 24/7 operation, that drives $250m/year in new business.  In this article, I’ll provide an overview of their Proposal Center system, the business impact, and, how they are taking it even further.

 

The Proposal Center System

The original system was built using CorasWorks on SharePoint 2003.  It went live in 2005.  When our customer bought the company that built it – they got it.  It was decided that this system would become the core for a new Proposal Management Center that would offer their service to all business units of the company and that would provide a flexible set of services to meet varying business needs.

NOTE: This decision was surprising.  At the time our customer was a complete SAP shop – even for their Intranet/My SAP portal.  The company they acquired used CorasWorks/SharePoint for their Intranet and many other operations.  Our customer killed everything SharePoint from the acquired company, except for this proposal system. This one app has kept the SharePoint flame burning in the organization which over the years is now starting to more broadly adopt SharePoint.

At the core of the Proposal Center is a good solid proposal development system based upon SharePoint.  Each proposal or proposal project is a SharePoint site (at least one) managed as part of an ongoing portfolio of work.  The native SharePoint capabilities have been enhanced with CorasWorks to automate many aspects of the proposal life-cycle and flesh out the system to support a range of different levels of business development capture and proposal projects and information resources as follows:

- Standard RFP Responses – The standard proposal project is a full response to a government RFP using internal resources.  For this, they use a standardized color review process.  The system structures the work, manages the content, and, keeps everyone up to date via email notifications and workflow.

- Smaller BD Projects – It also supports smaller projects.  Sometimes a business group may only require input on the Executive Summary, a short response to an RFI, Past Performance information, or work on a Pricing matrix.

- Managed Knowledge Resources – In addition to managing the projects, the Proposal Center has become a central source for standardized information such as Past Performance, forms, policies, proposal snippets, pricing information, etc.  People working on proposals can “fetch” relevant information from various managed KM repositories and pull it into the working site.  Over time, the Proposal Center has built up an extensive set of knowledge that is reusable as well as knowledge about the process and results of all Business Development operations activity.

- Large Teamed Responses – Further, the system is designed to also support large proposals involving a broad number of teaming partners.  Leveraging CorasWorks and its “secure separation” design each teaming partner is able to interactively participate within the system but only sees the information that they are supposed to see.  Yet, the core company proposal team gets a holistic view of all of the activity.

- IDIQ Task Order Responses – Last year, a new module was added to the system to support IDIQ Task Order Management where they serve as the Prime contractor.  The Task Order responses are managed through the system.  As IDIQ Task Orders, these have unusually short deadlines, such as 10 days, and require an expedited process.

All of the different types of projects are managed via overall portfolio dashboards and work consoles that allow the business development managers to see, act, and contribute as needed.  It provides extensive real-time reporting across the system for business development executives, program managers, and, overall executives.

There are also many unique features to the system that were created to drive productivity within the specific operating environment of our customer.  One of these is the integration with the customers’ SAP HR system.  Our customer responds to a large number of service-oriented RFPs that are dependent on people. Thus, easy access to resumes and integration of vetted individuals into the proposal is a big productivity boost.  Using CorasWorks, the customer integrated with their SAP HR system which allows them to locate people/resumes, which when selected are dynamically formatted based upon pre-defined templates to be incorporated into their proposals.

NOTE: CorasWorks v11, our latest platform release, contains an advanced toolset enabling customers to integrate with Deltek Costpoint, Deltek GovWin CRM, SAP, Oracle Siebel, MS CRM/Dynamics, Taleo HR, Peoplesoft and most other enterprise CRM, ERP, and HR systems used by Federal Government Contractors.  It supports read/write integration, business logic, and is done without custom development leveraging CorasWorks adapters.

 

Impact on Business

When they first began, they were running fewer than 100 projects through their nascent proposal center using very manual processes.  The Proposal Center’s impact and scope of services has grown considerably over the last two years.  They are now running at 400 proposals/projects per year.  The output is currently driving $250M of new business for the organization each year.  The range of services continues to expand and help drive up the quality and consistency of organizational BD output as well as mitigate the risk of ad hoc activities. Using CorasWorks, non-developer business people in the BD operations groups (vs. IT) are able to maintain the system and enhance and extend it to meet evolving requirements.  This drives down costs and makes continuous innovation practical and efficient.

 

Next Steps

The customer is currently in the process of migrating the system to SharePoint 2010 and expanding its capacity.  In addition, they are enhancing the system to be a broader Business Development system that manages the full life-cycle with proposals as a core process.  To support this breadth, they are moving the overall design to a broad stage-activity-gate approach to give them 360 degree visibility across the life-cycle.  They will be building up and out their IDIQ/GWAC capabilities to create a full service Center of Excellence.    In addition, the system is going deeper to provide additional supporting processes working across other staff functions such as Organizational Conflicts of Interest, At Risk Authorizations, Finance requests and approvals, and Risk Management that are specific to Federal Government Contractors.

And, there is even more on the roadmap.  But, it is a competitive world so I’ll save that for later.  The key takeaway is that many organizations are leaving a lot of value on the table by using just native SharePoint or legacy rigid proposal systems.  There is a better way

 

William

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RFP Response Ideas and Input on Cim for Proposal Management

New Product Development and Process Improvement are obvious applications for CorasWorks Idea Management (Cim).  Our creative customers are starting to enlighten us with not so obvious ones.  Here is a good one – tapping into your workforce to generate ideas, input and information for a response to an RFP and pushing it into your Proposal Management response app.  We like it so much it is now part of our standard demo.  In this article I’ll discuss this business scenario.

Intro

The customer who came up with it is a very large government systems integrator.  They have built a project-oriented proposal management solution using CorasWorks on SharePoint.  It is very sophisticated with complex layers of security to support government security requirements and multiple vendors.

Their objectives are straight-forward – win more proposals and make money delivering.  How?  By tapping into their broad workforce to get good technical, delivery, operational ideas, input, and information up front and throughout the proposal process to improve their proposal, increase their chance of winning and their success in delivery and making money doing it.  Their approach is to use Cim to improve their process.

Basic Workstream Description

image

The flow works like this.  The RFP comes in from the prospect.  They then kick off a proposal site for the Response team in their existing system.  They begin their normal process.  Now, the change in process comes …

- The response team prepares a challenge site using Cim to get input from either a broad audience or a more select but large audience depending on the proposal.

- They set a limited timeframe for the initial response ideas, say 2 weeks to a month, to get input.  People contribute, vet, augment, rate, comment, etc.  Again, this may be a broad open challenge community or a private but larger community for invited participants.

- They then have a Screening/Review step where they screen the input.  The ones they like or need they push into the Response team site to use in the process of preparing the proposal.

- As new issues or topics come up in their proposal process they go back out to the community?  For instance, as they get through the process they may need to go back to test their assumptions on Resource Availability and Cost.  Thus, it becomes a supporting iterative application to augment the overall process.

The Diagram

Here is a diagram that lays out the basic workstream. It differs somewhat from a straight-through idea workstream like Process Improvement because the Proposal team kicks it off from the start.  In effect, the community element is a subset of their their overall proposal process.  It is an option, a tool they can use to broaden their chance of success.

 

 

 

 

 

The Demo Example

In our Cim demonstrations, we now have an example of this scenario.  Our scenario is commercially oriented – the ACME Widget Company has put out an RFP for vendors to propose their services/products that will help ACME reduce energy consumption at its manufacturing facility.

Below is a screenshot of the RFP Response Challenge community.  We are showing one idea that has been proposed.  Note that the contributor has attached key documents required by the process as specified by the response team.ACME

The full end-to-end solution

With the systems integrator customer mentioned above they have a CorasWorks based Proposal Management system.  That makes it a nice, end-to-end, pre-integrated solution.  However, you can also use simple native SP collaborative sites for Proposals or any that you have customized with or without CorasWorks.  CorasWorks natively integrates and allows for the downstream integration (pushing screened ideas into the proposal sites) with any SharePoint based site.  In addition, you can integrate this process as a bolt on to other third-party Proposal Management solutions such as Privia from Spring CM.  This can be done either through a non-invasive approach where you can easily see or access the selected information from the third-party app or actually push or pull the information into the database of the third-party app.

Summary

The goal of the proposal process is to win more proposals and to be able to profitably deliver on them.  Easily being able to tap into a broader group of people in your organization (or partners and vendors also) and integrate their ideas, input and information into the process improves your chance of success on both objectives.

william