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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.