RE: Proposal software

Subject: RE: Proposal software
From: Emily Cotlier <Emily_Cotlier -at- cardlink -dot- co -dot- nz>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 09:26:17 +1200


To respond to Laura Scharf's request for a "proposal software package"; I
agree with Peter on this that "The best proposal software is called brains,
common sense and experience.
I have seem many items of software that claim to be: either proposal
software, or business planning software. Nothing I have seen is worth a
____m."

I'm also a tech writer who overlaps into proposal writing, and I've been
asked twice by our international business division to help create a template
or generic way to create proposals. Maybe my experience can help you
streamline the process somewhat without trying to rely on a software
package. The first time I was asked to create a proposal template, in my
naivete, I created two proposal templates for the two main areas of our
business. We then had a run of 12 proposals -- not one of which used the
templates. The templates weren't used because--again, as Peter said-- we
wanted a more precise response to the RFP. Ironically, the multiple
proposals did involve extensive repetition in description of our products,
company, etc. Because of staff changes, we got a new manager of that
division who, after writing some proposals, asked for...a proposal template.
Luckily, he listened when I explained what I had done before, and why it had
not worked for the users.

Our new attempt at a solution is not to have a standard template with
content. Instead, I've developed a style guide/style template for them to
use, so that the proposals all (should) have a consistent and professional
look, and we're developing a set of document "building blocks" based on the
repetitive parts of our proposals--company overview, product descriptions,
etc. About 1/2 of the proposal content will be created from scratch, and the
building blocks of text will probably be edited to suit. If this works, the
business division will be able to generate proposals more quickly, with a
consistent style, and in a way that requires less of my time to
edit/format/write/find material. The document building blocks will probably
require editorial housekeeping/updating every 3 to 6 months. I can see this
falling down in two areas: 1. more frequent updates may be required, and 2:
the business people may not have the word processing/document writing skills
to use the building blocks effectively. We shall see. Hope that was of some
use.

Emily Cotlier
Technical Writer
Cardlink Systems Limited, New Zealand




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