Re: CMS for proposals?

Subject: Re: CMS for proposals?
From: Suzy -dot- Davis -at- doi -dot- vic -dot- gov -dot- au
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 11:05:21 +1000

----- Forwarded by Suzy Davis/CORE/DOI on 27/10/04 11:04 AM -----

Suzy Davis
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
27/10/04 11:03 AM cc:
Subject: Re: CMS for proposals?(Document link: Suzy Davis)


I spent a few years managing the production and release of proposal and rfp
response documents.

I looked at Sant, and Pragmatech, and actually met someone who used Sant.
But I haven't. My feeling was, and I haven't looked at them lately, that
they were great tools, and most useful if you just needed to store a whole
lot of boilerplate and then bash it out in an acceptable and consistent
format to send off to the new client. And from memory it provided a way
for the text to be personalised for the client.

I went down the Word template VBA route, and my experience might be helpful
to you.

But for the kinds of proposals and RFP responses I was doing, software
solutions, where maybe 20% of the response/proposal was used in all
proposals, 30% was unique to the current proposal contributed by the
technical team, and 50% was a rework of answers provided in previous
proposals, these products didn't give me enough help. The contributed text
was always badly formatted, the reworked text was always returned without
any particular formatting, etc. I needed something to help me 12 hours
before the due date massage the document into something presentable.

I chose to go down the Word VBA route and develop a template. As soon as
an RFP came in I would add all the questions that needed answering into the
new document. I then sent this to all the contributors. They would then
add their answers to the questions they had been allocated, but because it
was in my template, and I had set it up, where they clicked was already
formatted with the style that they needed to use. At the most I needed to
rework the bullets or numbering, or any tables they might add. Any text
that was re-used a lot, I put in Word documents that were based on the
template, so the text was pre-formatted. This cut down a lot of the
re-work, and gave me time to do some editing.

Last year I developed it further for a client who did legal RFPs. I added
a menu system which allowed users to select the text they needed to add
from lists of document categories. Added autotext for preformatted
tables, and a last minute quality control check to make sure comments,
track changes etc were cleared before the final release. I found though
that these users didn't really understand that if they didn't pre-format
the text in the source documents, they would need to reformat it each time
it went into the document. I guess I was the only one who was managing the
RFP responses so I was the one who had to keep reformatting the same text
until I pre-formatted it. They were a much larger team so they weren't
necessarily reformatting the same text over and over.

I want to add another level which allows marked text in a final document to
be uploaded back into the source document register, but if the team don't
make sure that the text in the final document is formatted appropriatly (ie
no quality control check on the selected sections) it will just be adding
to the already badly formatted test in the source doc.

One person needs to understand the importance of the formatting, and manage
that. That was all I could see that needed to happen. But this team
didn't really get the benefit out of it because they didn't understand.
They liked it, and found it an improvement on what they had been doing, but
it could have worked much better for them.

I would want to add in a final text upload facility before I made it
available for any kind of trial (so probably not until January), but if you
are interested in going down this route contact me off list.

Suzy -dot- Davis -at- createspace -dot- com -dot- au

zoroaster7 -at- hotmail -dot- com
Sent by: To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
bounce-techwr-l-165345 -at- lists -dot- t cc: Subject: CMS for proposals?

27/10/04 06:45 AM
Please respond to zoroaster7

Hi folks

I have a question for folks who generate proposals regularly. My client, a
relatively small engineering firm, has developed a mountain of project
descriptions over the past 15 years. They use these descriptions (along
with boilerplate copy) in proposals and other marketing materials. In the
past, they've simply compiled all this stuff into badly organized Word
files... but as you can imagine, things have gotten out of hand. Ideally,
they'd like to find a solution that allows them to input/edit job
descriptions and metadata, run queries for specific project types, and
generate classy-looking output.

Any suggestions? I've googled this topic exentsively, and the application
that comes closest to meeting their needs is Pragmatech's Proposal
Automation Suite. Has anyone on the list used this or someting similar? If
so, what were the pros and cons?

Thanks in advance for your replies.


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