Proposal authoring tools - Things to consider when selecting a tool

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Main page: Proposal authoring tools - comprehensive list.

Although every company's requirements will differ, below are some generic requirements that you could consider:

Contents

Platform

Does the software run on your platform, is it compliant with your Standard Operating Environment (SOE) and can it integrate with your other software (Customer Relationship Management system, Document Management System, Content Management System, Wiki, Intranet, etc)?

Accessibility

If your staff are spread geographically, ensure that they all have access to the software and the content.

Training

Is the tool intuitive to use? Is training available (either face-to-face or on-line)? How will new users be trained?

Boiler plate content

A lot of your customers will ask the same or similar questions such as information on compliance, financial or organisational structure, etc. Does the tool support the recording and re-use of common content?

Security

Does the process ensure that sensitive information is protected against unauthorised access?

Proposal re-use

Does the process prevent authors to re-use previous proposals whose content may now be out of date?

Return on investment

What is the total cost of the application and how long will it take to achieve return on the investment?

Template design

Can the design of the proposal template be modified by authorised staff (e.g. as a result of changes to the corporate brand, etc).

Can different template designs be set up for different companies, brands, departments, etc.

Archiving

Each document sent to the customer should be preserved as a record of communication for legal, regulatory and commercial reasons. Also assists when discussing content of different versions with the customer.

Ease of use

Non-technical users and those without deep Word skills should still be able to easily create quality proposals.

Administration

How difficult is the tool to administer? What resources are required and how technically-savvy do they need to be?

Technical support

What happens if the proposal author needs help and the proposal is due in an hour's time? Is support available locally or at least on-line? What are the response times for support calls?

Vertical industry support

Does the supplier understand your industry and how to give you the maximum benefits of the tools for the types of proposals you create?

Stability

How stable and mature is the product?

How stable and mature is the supplier?

References

Ask for references relating to your industry, your type of organisation and your type of proposals.

Process management

Does the software support your requirements regarding multi-author proposals, review processes, metrics, reporting, etc?

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