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