RFP-Proposal – VisibleThread https://www.visiblethread.com Document & Web Content Analysis Solutions Thu, 30 May 2019 12:31:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 https://www.visiblethread.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-VT-Ico-W-32x32.jpg RFP-Proposal – VisibleThread https://www.visiblethread.com 32 32 VisibleThread Docs 3.1: What’s New https://www.visiblethread.com/2019/05/visiblethread-docs-3-1-whats-new/ https://www.visiblethread.com/2019/05/visiblethread-docs-3-1-whats-new/#respond Thu, 30 May 2019 09:57:05 +0000 https://www.visiblethread.com/?p=17779 VisibleThread Docs 3.1: What’s New Our latest version of VT Docs is now available to all Cloud Users, And, our on-promise users will receive access from June 05th. 3.1 has been 8 months in the making and has lots of exciting features. Before we dive in, we’d like to say a big thank you to ...

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VisibleThread Docs 3.1: What’s New

Our latest version of VT Docs is now available to all Cloud Users, And, our on-promise users will receive access from June 05th. 3.1 has been 8 months in the making and has lots of exciting features.

Before we dive in, we’d like to say a big thank you to all VT Docs Users. It’s your feedback that has shaped 3.1 and will shape our future releases also.

Some of the new features of VT Docs 3.1 were released to cloud users early. So you may already be familiar with some of them. Here is the complete list:

1. Export Customization Using Excel Macros

One of the most frequent requests from customers over the last year is to customize Excel outputs. You wanted to be able to tell VT Docs how an output file should look. Rather than having to manipulate the default output after every export, which is pretty tedious. This new capability lets you do exactly that. For example, you can now add extra columns automatically to compliance matrix report.

Customization could be:

  • Flagging certain FAR clauses with colors
  • Massage outputs for import into 3rd party systems
  • Reformat column headings, positions or titles
  • Pull out dates or Dollar values into their own columns

The possibilities are infinite.

We use Excel Macros in 3.1 for post processing. Out of the box, we provide some sample macros that you can use when generating excel reports. There are four easy steps:

  1. Grab the macro template from the settings menu
  2. Customize by adding your own macros using Excel and upload the file into your environment
  3. Using VT Docs generate an Excel export (e.g. a compliance matrix)
  4. Access the macros by hitting our ‘VisibleThread Macros’ button in the workbook

Our customer success team can assist with any macro customization needs you may have.

2. Readability Enhancements

You have asked us to make a distinction between long and very long sentences. You will now see separate highlighting for long and very long sentences in 3.1. In addition, you can now configure how many words make up a long sentence and a very long sentence.

Thresholds can now also be set for Grade level and will be reflected in the readability analysis for your documents, Grade level is now displayed to one decimal point for further accuracy.

Support for readability analysis of non-English documents was another request that has been included in 3.1.

3. Admin Privileges Extension

Previously, the ‘administrator’ role in VT Docs served multiple purposes and was required to add/edit users, edit dictionaries or edit settings. In 3.1, these permissions have been separated out and admins can give edit rights to settings and dictionaries to individual users.

Admin permissions have been split into 3 different sections:

  • the ability to administer users
  • the ability to edit settings
  • the ability to edit dictionaries.

This will help you to broaden the scope of what users can do, without giving them unintended permissions.

4. RedHat Support for On-Premise Deployments

We recognized that Red Hat is a corporate favourite and some organizations may only support software running on RedHat. From 3.1 onwards we will provide RedHat support for our on-premise releases. For full details on how to deploy VisibleThread Docs on Red Hat visit our support center at:

https://support.visiblethread.com/hc/en-us/articles/360022255791-How-To-Deploy-VisibleThread-Docs-on-Red-Hat

5. Configurable Cap on Users per Sandbox for On-Premise Deployments

Our on-premise deployments can now have the option to specify user limits for each sandbox you create. This will allow you to limit the size of each sandbox and guarantee the correct amount of licences get to each team. This is particularly useful for organizations who have several business units or teams using a single VT Docs deployment. Capping each sandbox at a user limit allows you to align license allocation with your organization requirements.

6. Ability to Clone a Quality Dictionary to Concept dictionary and vice versa

Dictionaries can now be freely copied from Quality Dictionaries to Concept Dictionaries and vice versa. This will allow quick and easy movement of dictionaries, so they can be fully utilized throughout the app.

We hope you enjoy these improvements.

Note on Availability for On-Premise customers: This release is already available for cloud customers. Just sign in and you’ll be able to use it. For on-premise customers, we’re currently going through extensive testing and quality assurance cycles. We expect it to be available for on-premise customers on June 05th.

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Real Solutions to Unrealistic Schedules for Proposal Managers [APMP BPC 2019] https://www.visiblethread.com/2019/05/real-solutions-to-unrealistic-schedules-for-proposal-managers/ https://www.visiblethread.com/2019/05/real-solutions-to-unrealistic-schedules-for-proposal-managers/#respond Tue, 21 May 2019 10:41:21 +0000 https://www.visiblethread.com/?p=17611 Real Solutions to Unrealistic Schedules for Proposal Managers [APMP BPC 2019] The APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2019 taking place this week in Orlando focusses on the challenges proposal professionals face. These may vary from contract to contract. Or from team to team. But one challenge is shared universally by all proposal experts – and ...

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Real Solutions to Unrealistic Schedules for Proposal Managers [APMP BPC 2019]

The APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2019 taking place this week in Orlando focusses on the challenges proposal professionals face. These may vary from contract to contract. Or from team to team. But one challenge is shared universally by all proposal experts – and that is lack of time.

Proposal professionals are asked to write winning proposals. Then they’re given very little time to do it in. The pressure on their shoulders to deliver doesn’t reduce. The time in which to deliver does.

As a proposal expert, who is responsible for bringing in revenue by winning RFPs, how do you manage the pressures on you and reach your targets?

Mike Parkinson, CPP APMP Fellow and old friend of VisibleThread, will share real-world solutions to unrealistic schedules at today’s BPC 2019 Orlando. He’ll feature some really practical techniques you can use to optimize the proposal process. Mike’s session will be from 10 – 11:30 on the Main Stage (Grand Cypress D,E,F) at APMP’s Bid and Proposal Con (BPC) 2019.

What a winning proposal needs

“Often the advice dished out to you doesn’t work in the real world” says Mike.

Use “canned” or boilerplate proposals? Well, they’re not effective and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit winning proposals. And those are the ones we’re interested in. Getting the right team in place and defining roles? Sure, but we’ve done that already and we still need to write that proposal.

But what if you could combine skills, methods and tools to power your proposal process?

Great news. You can.

Attend Mike’s highly interactive workshop for advice that is tailored with you in mind. Mike’s approach places the proposal expert at the center of the proposal creation process.

He’ll show you how to develop solutions that cover all aspects of the process, including writing, graphics and desktop publishing.

His solutions are designed to get the best out of you, the expert, and the tools that can help you do your job more effectively. And with less stress.

Let’s be honest. Proposal management and creation can be tough. But there are ways to make the job easier and more fun.

 

Real Solutions to Unrealistic Schedules – Where and when

When: Tuesday, May 21st

Time: 10 – 11:30

Where: Main Stage (Grand Cypress D,E,F) at APMP’s Bid and Proposal Con (BPC) 2019 in Orlando, Florida (USA).


About Mike Parkinson:

Mike Parkinson, CPP APMP Fellow and 1 of 34 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the world, is an internationally recognized visual communication and proposal expert, best-selling author and professional trainer. He is a partner at 24 Hour Company (www.24hrco.com), the premier proposal creative services firm. Mike has spearheaded multi-billion dollar projects and helped his clients win billions of dollars. Mike’s training, Billion Dollar Graphics and A Trainer’s Guide to PowerPoint books, Graphic Cheat Sheet (www.BillionDollarGraphics.com), and Build-a-Graphic software help companies succeed while saving money and time.




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APMP Bid and Proposal Con 2019 – Will you be there? https://www.visiblethread.com/2019/04/apmp-bid-and-proposal-con-2019/ Tue, 16 Apr 2019 09:58:40 +0000 https://www.visiblethread.com/?p=17219 APMP Bid and Proposal Con 2019 – Will you be there? APMP’s BPC 2019 is just a month away! We are looking forward to joining proposal professionals in Orlando from May 20-23 at the annual conference. VisibleThread will be exhibiting and is also a sponsor of this hands-on education event. We will show bid and ...

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APMP Bid and Proposal Con 2019 – Will you be there?

APMP’s BPC 2019 is just a month away! We are looking forward to joining proposal professionals in Orlando from May 20-23 at the annual conference.

VisibleThread will be exhibiting and is also a sponsor of this hands-on education event. We will show bid and proposal professionals how they can bid faster, improve quality and win more:

  • Generate a compliance matrix in 3 minutes or less
  • Increase pWin rate by 9.8% on average
  • $528k saved on average

Will you be there? Be sure to come see us at stand 37!




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Whitelist and Lix support for Readability and Email Server (and a few other bits too!) https://www.visiblethread.com/2018/08/readability-whitelist-and-lix/ Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:05:16 +0000 https://www.visiblethread.com/?p=16214 Whitelist and LIX support for Readability / Email Server (and a few other bits too!) We have just rolled out some exciting new updates to our Readability and Email Server cloud users. To try out any of these features simply browse to https://readability.visiblethread.com Whitelisting of words and phrases for Readability and Email Server LIX Readability Score ...

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Whitelist and LIX support for Readability / Email Server (and a few other bits too!)

We have just rolled out some exciting new updates to our Readability and Email Server cloud users. To try out any of these features simply browse to https://readability.visiblethread.com

  • Whitelisting of words and phrases for Readability and Email Server
  • LIX Readability Score to measure the complexity of non-English content.
  • Export analysis history to Excel
  • Configure what metrics to highlight in analysis results exports.

Whitelisting of words and phrases

Note: Whitelisting is not available on our FREE usage plans.

The Readability and Grade Level scores produced by VisibleThread Readability make it very easy to measure how clear your content is. However there are times when you must use complex words or phrases that will negatively impact these scores. For example you may be working with content related to medical professionals and have several references to ‘anesthesiology’ in your text. Repeated use of this multi syllabic word will have a negative effect on your Readability Scores.

You can now exclude these words from your Readability and Grade Level calculation by adding them to a ‘whitelist’.

To do so, go to the settings screen and click on ‘Whitelist’. From here you can add or remove terms from your whitelist. You can also export it to csv, or import from csv.

Any changes to the whitelist will take effect the next time you analyze content.

We have modified the analysis results screen to highlight how occurrences of whitelisted terms.

 

 

LIX Readability score for non-English content

We have added a new language complexity score that is suitable for use with non-English content. Previously VisibleThread Readability used the Flesch Reading Ease to rate the complexity of all content, no matter what language. Now when you analyze any content in VisibleThread Readability, our language intelligence engine will automatically identify the language. If the content is written in English it will use our standard Flesch Reading Ease formula to measure language complexity. If the content is in any other language it will use the LIX Readability Score which is more appropriate for non-English content.

For more information on the LIX Readability score see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lix_(readability_test)

For content creators working with content in French we have the additional bonus of providing suggested improvements to the content in French.

 

This feature applies to any content type, be it text snippet, URL or document. It also applies to any document analyzed as a result of an email sent to the Readability Server.

 

 

Export Scan History to Excel

 

We have added the ability to export your analysis history to Excel. This new feature can be accessed by clicking on the ‘Export Scan History’ button on the top right of the Analysis History view. This allows archiving or sharing of scan results with colleagues.

 

New Configuration Option for Scan Reports

The analysis results view allows you to ‘toggle’ the kinds of issues that are highlighted in the content analyzed.  For example you can choose to only highlight Long Sentences or Passive Voice. However when you generated an excel export or an annotated document from the result all categories of issues were highlighted in the output.

We have introduced the ability to customize the report output by allowing you choose which types of issues to highlight in the report.

To see this in action:

  1. Analyze some content (text, document or URL)
  2. When the analysis completes and the results view loads, click on the Export->Excel menu option.
  3. You will be presented with a list of categories of issues that you can choose to highlight in the output

 

We hope you enjoy these improvements.

If you have any questions, or suggestions for future enhancements, feel free to contact us at support@visiblethread.com.

Eoin Wren,

VP Engineering and Support.

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How to extract FAR clauses from RFPs in under 3 minutes https://www.visiblethread.com/2018/08/how-to-automatically-extract-far-clauses-from-rfps-in-under-3-minutes/ Mon, 20 Aug 2018 11:10:02 +0000 http://www.visiblethread.com/?p=9900 How to extract FAR clauses from RFPs in under 3 minutes If you’re a contracts or proposal manager working US federal programs, you’ll know the importance of the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) and DFAR (Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations). And contractors working army contracts also review AFARS (Army Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement). You need to carefully review certain ...

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How to extract FAR clauses from RFPs in under 3 minutes

FAR Requirements If you’re a contracts or proposal manager working US federal programs, you’ll know the importance of the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) and DFAR (Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations). And contractors working army contracts also review AFARS (Army Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement).

You need to carefully review certain FAR / DFAR clauses for compliance, especially those concerning OCI (Organizational Conflict of Interest), Security and Intellectual Property.

Prime contractors also need to manage any flow down clauses that apply to their sub-contractors. And sub-contractors need to clearly understand what flow-down clauses apply. Contract managers manually comb through and review the FAR clauses. While many FAR clauses are benign, a good number need careful review. All told, a very time consuming, but critical process.

NOTE: For the rest of this post, we’ll just refer to FARs, but the same concepts apply for DFAR and AFARS reviews. We’ll also just refer to Contract Managers, but Proposal Managers and Proposal Coordinators also review FARs.

To do this, contract managers will create a type of FAR requirements matrix, often using a spreadsheet. This allows you track compliance with the FAR mandates. The FAR requirements matrix is a critical tool. It often dovetails into a responsibility matrix, sometimes called a RACI matrix.

Contract managers can spend days during the course of larger contracts extracting, updating and maintaining the FAR requirements matrix by hand.

Can you automate this process? And move from several hours to a few minutes to create the matrix? Turns out you can, and our customers are doing it. Here are some considerations:

    1. How are FAR/DFAR clauses manually identified?
    2. Can these clauses be automatically flagged?
    3. What kind of time savings can you expect?

If you’re a contracts manager, program manager or proposal manager, automation will change how you do things. It drives dramatic efficiency, and helps avoid missing critical FAR clauses that could damage your organization. Read on.

1. How are FAR/DFAR clauses manually identified?

When it comes to checking FAR clauses by hand, you’ll likely follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Open the doc in PDF or MS Word
  • Step 2: Search for the specific FAR clause using standard ‘find’.
  • Step 3: Check if there are any hits using the search box. If you find any, copy and paste the relevant paragraph of text into a spreadsheet.
  • Step 4: Repeat step 2 & 3 until you’ve checked all the FAR clauses.

Many FAR clauses are standard and tend not to change. Or they may simple be benign. These are typically pretty easy to identify as they have a fairly uniform structure in the RFP paperwork.

However, contractors pay particular attention to certain clauses including;

  • Conflict of Interest FAR clauses,
  • IP (Intellectual Property) FAR clauses,
  • Security related FAR clauses,
  • Any flow-downs.

These same considerations apply for DFARs and AFARS too. So in your spreadsheet, you likely have a column titled ‘Must Review’ which serves to communicate any requested changes to these types of clauses. For example, for one of our customers when they see “52.227-14” connected with Rights in Data, they always request Alternative IV.

2. Can these clauses be automatically flagged?

Yes. VisibleThread Docs does this in three simple steps. Let me walk you through them:

  1. Upload your contract document to VT Docs
  2. Use a FAR search dictionary. NOTE: In the context of VT Docs, a search dictionary allows you specify multiple search terms. For example, let’s say you want to find all FAR clauses, you define a search term of “52.*”.

On the left, you can see which contract document has been chosen to be analyzed. You can see 246 FARs and 2 DFARs in total (Catch All) in this document. Already, VT Docs has marked 7 as must review and 2 as less important. You can view a list of all FARs and DFARs in the preview.

3. Export to Excel

When you choose to export it to Excel, you will receive a spreadsheet like this:

FAR Requirement Matrix

The yellow highlighted lines are FAR and DFAR clauses. Each line outlines exactly which requirement you are tackling. Any requirement that you must act on is highlighted in red.

In just three clicks you have created a FAR requirements matrix. You have not only saved but by eliminating the manual tasks, you will have reduce the risk of missing vital requirements.

3. What kind of Time Savings can you expect?

We defined earlier 4 manual steps contract managers take today:

  • Step 1: Open the doc in PDF or MS Word
  • Step 2: Search for the specific FAR clause using standard ‘find’.
  • Step 3: Check if there are any hits using the search box. If you find any, copy and paste the relevant paragraph of text into a spreadsheet.
  • Step 4: Repeat step 2 & 3 until you’ve checked all the FAR clauses.

To quantify time savings, let’s consider 2 scenarios;

1.) checking for 15 OCI (Organization Conflict of Interest) clauses

2.) checking the full set of FAR/DFAR clauses

Time Savings Scenario 1: Checking 15 OCI clauses

So let’s assume you want to extract OCI (Organizational Conflict of Interest) FAR clauses from a 106-page document. You need to search for 15 specific OCI terms; including ‘9.501’, ‘9.502’ etc. Then if you see hits, you need to copy/paste to the FAR matrix. Assume the RFP contains hits for 5 of the 15 terms.

If done manually here’s an estimate of time required =

  • Step 1: Open the doc
  • Step 2: 15 x 30 seconds = 5 minutes (450 secs) . Assumes it takes 30 seconds to enter the term and determine if there are occurrences or not.
  • Step 3: 5 x 2 minutes = 10 minutes. Assumes it takes 2 minutes to identify and copy/paste the various clauses found for each FAR term.

This gives us a total of 17.5 minutes for a single 106-page doc with just 15 terms to check.

With the automated approach, steps 2 and 3 took 1 minute. Recall that we found 5 terms occurring in the doc immediately and at a single click we had the output in a spreadsheet.

So for this scenario, it’s:

17.5 minutes (for manual) vs. 1 minute (for automated).

Time Savings Scenario 2: Checking 672 FAR clauses

Using the same approach as scenario 1 but this time with the full FAR, it’s a lot more time consuming. For our 106 page RFP doc, assume we have 155 hits, and we need to check for 672 FAR clauses.

So, here’s how our calculations play out.

Time taken =

  • Step 1: Open the doc
  • Step 2: 672 x 30 seconds = 336 minutes or 5.6 hours (20,160 secs) . Assumes it takes 30 seconds to enter the term and determine if there are occurrences or not.
  • Step 3 & 4: 155 x 2 minutes = 310 minutes or 5.1 hours. Assumes it takes 2 minutes to identify and copy/paste the various clauses found for each FAR term. NOTE: 155 of the 672 clauses had hits.

This gives us a total of 646 minutes or 10.76 hours for this 106-page doc.

If we use the automated approach then steps 2 and 3 become extremely fast. In our case, in fact, it was 2 minutes. We were able to extract in the output to a spreadsheet in a single click.

So for this 2nd scenario, it’s:
10.76 hours (for manual) vs. 2 minutes (for automated).

The value of reliably extracting the full content is that it dramatically shortcuts the time-consuming copy/paste process to populate the FAR spreadsheet.

Takeaways:

  • Tracking FAR and DFAR clauses and creating matrices is critical but time consuming.
  • You can safely automate the extraction process saving you days of effort per contract.
  • You can reduce the risk of manual/human error and therefore the risk of missing vital requirements.
  • Reducing effort and risk allows you to concentrate on winning the contract.

If you have questions about how VT Docs can work for your contract processes, we’d be delighted to answer these for you on a live demo.


Acknowledgements: I am very grateful to a number of 3rd parties who helped my understanding of the FAR and clarified many of the challenges for contract managers. In particular, big thanks to Maxine Tolbert of SBC Solutions, Carl Gouaux of CWG and associates, Melissa Howell of Government Acquisitions and Bridget Anderson of Deltek. Thanks guys for your insights.

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VisibleThread Docs 3.0 what’s new https://www.visiblethread.com/2018/03/visiblethread-docs-3-0-whats-new/ https://www.visiblethread.com/2018/03/visiblethread-docs-3-0-whats-new/#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 16:45:16 +0000 https://www.visiblethread.com/?p=15560 VisibleThread Docs 3.0 what’s new NOTE: May 15, 2018 - The VT Docs 3.0 update pack is now available for on-premise customers with up to date subscriptions. Contact support@visiblethread.com for instructions and download links. Our latest VT Docs 3.0 release has many extensions that we think you’ll love. In this post, I’ll give a full overview of ...

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VisibleThread Docs 3.0 what’s new

NOTE: May 15, 2018 - The VT Docs 3.0 update pack is now available for on-premise customers with up to date subscriptions. Contact support@visiblethread.com for instructions and download links.

Our latest VT Docs 3.0 release has many extensions that we think you’ll love. In this post, I’ll give a full overview of what’s new.

Here are some of the head-line new capabilities:

  • Revamped UI and Navigation System
  • Support for sub-folders
  • Excel Compare
  • Bulk import/export from Readability Whitelist

The release also includes many performance improvements, tweaks and bug fixes to existing features. Read on to get full detail.

Revamped UI and Navigation System

In VisibleThread Docs 3.0, we have introduced a new navigation sidebar. This sidebar provides easy access to your Folders, Dictionaries and Account Settings.

The Home screen provides quick insights to usage levels and recent activity on your account.

The Folders area contains all your folders and documents. In here we have added ‘Quick actions’ menus to provide easy access to common tasks at each level.

The Dictionaries area contains all your dictionaries and structure outlines.

In our new ‘Help’ area you will find links to all our videos and documentation in one place.

Finally the Settings area is the place to go the modify any of your account settings, including Thresholds, Whitelists etc.

Support for sub-folders

VisibleThread Docs 3.0 provides support for nested sub-folders. This allows for easier grouping and categorization of related documents. For example you might create a top level folder for an RFP or contract. And then create sub-folders to group all issuing side documents or response documents together. Or you might also use sub-folders to organize your pink, red or gold team review documents.

Creating sub-folders is straightforward. Click the ‘Create New Folder’ action from the Quick Actions menu in the folders area, or click on the ‘Create New Folder’ option on the toolbar or from the right click menu.

 

Moving items between sub-folders is really easy. Just drag and drop documents or folders into the destination folder. If you prefer to use the menu system, you can also move items by accessing the ‘Move Folder’ or ‘Move Document’ menu items from the Quick Actions or right click menus.

Excel Compare

The VisibleThread document compare engine now supports Excel Workbooks. This feature allows you to identify changes between revisions of Excel Workbooks.

To try it out, upload two revisions of a workbook to a folder, and click on the ‘Compare Excel’ button.

 

Compare Excel Mega Button

 

Compare Excel Summary Results

 

Compare Excel Detailed Sheet Comparison

Bulk import/export from Readability Whitelist

In VisibleThread Docs 2.14 we introduced a whitelist of terms for Readability. This allows you specify words or phrases to exclude from our Readability and Complex Word detection algorithms. You can now export this whitelist to a csv text file for archiving or sharing with other teams. You can also import terms from a a csv text file into your  Readability whitelist. This means you can make bulk changes in Microsoft Excel, save as a csv file and then import into VisibleThread Docs.

 

Miscellaneous changes

Auto-numbering of documents on upload

You can now upload the same document multiple times to a folder. If a document with the same name already exists in the folder, we’ll append a unique number to it. This makes it easy to upload the same document to a VisibleThread folder without having to explicitly rename it prior to upload. Very useful if you want to use different search dictionaries against an RFP or contract for example.

Tweaks to exports

You can now export the theme list from the folder level and document level discovery views.

We enhanced the folder level concept export to allow you export ‘all content’ and not just matching content.

Both these enhancements have been regular feature requests from customers.

Performance improvements

We have improved how we handle large document uploads and the generation of very large exports. In previous versions these might lead to misleading error messages or cancelled downloads due to browser timeouts. We rectified these issues in this release.

We hope you enjoy these improvements.

Note on Availability for On-Premise customers: This release is already available for cloud customers. Just sign in and you’ll be able to use it. For on-premise customers, we’re currently going through extensive testing and quality assurance cycles. We expect it to be available for on-premise customers in May.

Eoin Wren,

VP Engineering and Support.

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Why Poorly Executed RFPs Create a Severe Financial Burden for Agencies https://www.visiblethread.com/2016/12/why-poorly-executed-rfps-create-a-severe-financial-burden-for-agencies/ Mon, 19 Dec 2016 18:22:17 +0000 http://www.visiblethread.com/?p=12014 Why Poorly Executed RFPs Create a Severe Financial Burden for Agencies   Our CEO, Fergal McGovern wrote about ‘Why Poorly Executed RFPs Create a Severe Financial Burden for Agencies’. His article appeared in the December edition of the NCMA (National Contract Management Association) magazine. Government contract procurement documents generally reflect a poor quality of writing, ...

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Why Poorly Executed RFPs Create a Severe Financial Burden for Agencies

 

Why-Poorly-Executed-RFPs-Create-a-Severe-Financial-Burden-for-AgenciesOur CEO, Fergal McGovern wrote about ‘Why Poorly Executed RFPs Create a Severe Financial Burden for Agencies’. His article appeared in the December edition of the NCMA (National Contract Management Association) magazine. Government contract procurement documents generally reflect a poor quality of writing, although the quality varies from agency to agency. Detailed analysis from major Fed programs in 2016.

READ THE ARTICLE

 

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VisibleThread for Docs 2.13 now available https://www.visiblethread.com/2016/11/visiblethread-for-docs-2-13-now-available/ Sun, 06 Nov 2016 21:49:58 +0000 http://www.visiblethread.com/?p=11880 VisibleThread for Docs 2.13 now available Eoin here, VisibleThread head of engineering and support. Our new 2.13 release of VisibleThread for Documents is now available and ready for download for on-premise customers. This release is already live for cloud customers. In this blog post, I will provide a quick summary of what’s new in this ...

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VisibleThread for Docs 2.13 now available

Eoin here, VisibleThread head of engineering and support. Our new 2.13 release of VisibleThread for Documents is now available and ready for download for on-premise customers. This release is already live for cloud customers. In this blog post, I will provide a quick summary of what’s new in this release and will provide a quick peek at some of the new capabilities. For a complete list of what’s new, download the 2.13 Release Notes PDF.

The highlights include:

  • New Document Compare capability – find all text changes between two revisions of a document
  • New Responsibility Matrix capability
  • Enhancements to Clear Language
    • Export Clear Language issues to Excel
    • Excel Folder Level Clear Language view to PDF
    • Customize Clear Language exports to show/hide different metrics (e.g. don’t show Long Words)
  • Export an Annotated Word Document from Quality Analysis, Concept Tracking and Clear Language
  • Move Documents to a different folder
  • Improved dictionary performance

For on-premise customers: to get access to the release check out the support forum entry https://support.visiblethread.com/hc/en-us/articles/215067566-VisibleThread-2-13-on-premise-upgrade-instructions It tells you how to update your installation and the mechanics of getting 2.13

New Document Compare Capability

The Document Compare report allows you to view all changes between two revisions of a document (Word or PDF). Use cases for this include:

  • Checking for differences between a draft and final RFP
  • Analyzing a revised contract for changes
  • Looking for proposal text that was removed during the editing cycle to meet page limits

 

 

Export Annotated Word Document

The Annotated Word Doc exports an exact copy of your uploaded Word document using Word’s in built comment mechanism to highlight issues in the document. This can be used to highlight Quality or Concept dictionary matches, or Clear Language issues.

plannotations

Responsibility Matrix

2.13 sees the introduction of a new ‘Responsibility Matrix’ This feature allows you to assign responsibilities to specific teams, companies, or individuals. It is similar to the Compliance Matrix, but the Responsibility Matrix allows for more specific shredding of a contract post-award.

 

Version 2.13 has more more new capability. For a complete list of what’s new download the 2.13 Release Notes PDF.

Need more information, have some questions?

No problem, email us at support@visiblethread.com and we will be happy to help!

 

If you want to try VisibleThread Docs sign up here for a 7-day free trial


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Why MS Word Compare does not work for Contracts Teams https://www.visiblethread.com/2016/09/why-ms-word-compare-does-not-work-for-contracts-teams/ Tue, 20 Sep 2016 04:07:49 +0000 http://www.visiblethread.com/?p=11589 Why MS Word Compare does not work for Contracts Teams We work with a lot of contracts teams. When a new contract revision lands, job one is to identify any material changes between the last version and this one. Contract managers use MS Word and Adobe Pro Compare for this job. But they’re not working. Depending ...

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Why MS Word Compare does not work for Contracts Teams

We work with a lot of contracts teams. When a new contract revision lands, job one is to identify any material changes between the last version and this one. Contract managers use MS Word and Adobe Pro Compare for this job. But they’re not working.

Depending on contract size, it can take hours to compile a summary report showing ‘material changes’. There is a better way.


How it works today – use MS Word compare

When the final version of the 120-page PDF contract drops on your desk, what do you do?

  • You convert the PDF to MS Word, (or just use Adobe Pro compare directly if you have it.)
  • You fire up the ‘Compare’ function in either MS Word or Adobe Pro.
  • Then start from page 1, reviewing each change in the visual compare pane. In MS Word, it looks something like this:
  • Compare View in MS Word
  • If the change is non-trivial, you log it in a separate spreadsheet (or Word doc) for review.
  • You review all changes, ignoring things like spelling corrections or punctuation changes. You carefully note any material differences.

This all takes time. MS Word presents all changes identically, so you spend a fair amount of mental energy categorizing whether the change is a simple spell fix or a more substantial change affecting the contract. You could easily spend several hours on this process, especially for larger documents.


Is there a better way?

Let’s take a different approach. Let’s call this ‘Text Diff’. And for this, we’ll use VisibleThread Docs. Here’s what we do:

  1. Upload up your PDF or Word Docs & click ‘Compare Docs’
  2. Select the docs and launch the compare report (displayed in Excel). Here’s what you see:

VisibleThread Compare

In this example, we’re comparing two PDFs. Red means change, dark blue means no change.

Really easy to see changes on both sides of the fence with no confusing 3rd pane. Really easy to see where the more material changes occur. The more red there is, the more likely this change requires close attention. And it’s really easy to skim through this report by scrolling in Excel.


A difference in Philosophy

There are 2 core problems with ‘Visual Compare’ in MS Word:

1.) Designed for Merge
MS Word is designed for Merging. MS Word (and Adobe Pro  for that matter) show differences with a view to merging both versions. Contract Managers do want to easily see the differences, but not with an intent to resolve them into 1 file.
2.) Handles all differences equally
When reviewing changes, contract managers are really on the lookout for these kinds of changes;
  • Financial Terms, including; indemnification clauses, bond clauses, pricing changes etc,
  • Delivery Terms, including; time frame, performance criteria etc,
  • Conflict of Interest Terms, including supplier relationships etc,
  • Intellectual Property Terms, Privacy Terms, the list goes on.

They pay little attention to grammar or typographical changes. Yet the visual compare in MS Word shows all changes in an equal way. It means you have to do a second pass on the differences and somehow note those. This ‘visual parsing’ places a high cognitive burden on the user. And takes time.


Why is ‘Text Diff’ better?

Here’s why:

  1. Faster: You have a workable report in Excel in seconds. Compare that to the manual equivalent in Word which could take hours.
  2. Visually easier to see changes on both sides: You can easily see changes in both documents simultaneously without the visual overload you get in MS Word.
  3. The right format: Since the report is in Excel, it’s really simple to add new columns which allow you prioritize change or write notes for team review.

Summary Takeaways

In summary:

  1. Contract and Proposal Managers frequently need to see revision changes in documents.
  2. MS Word (or Adobe Pro) is freely available in most corporate environments, so we use the compare solution.
  3. MS Word and Adobe Pro are designed for merging differences into a single doc. Contract Managers want to easily see the differences only. They do not want to merge them into 1 file.
  4. Visual Compare in MS Word places a high cognitive burden on the user.
  5. Using a ‘Text Diff’ report (in VisibleThread Docs or another solution) provides a faster, more intuitive and flexible way to compare docs.

 

Bottom-line; we all have MS Word in our corporate environments, so we continue to use an imperfect tool for the job! And that’s costing everyone hours. There is a better and faster way.


If you want to try VisibleThread Docs compare for yourself, sign up here for a 7-day free trial


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Quality Proposals = More Wins https://www.visiblethread.com/2016/04/quality-proposal-more-wins/ Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:15:01 +0000 http://www.visiblethread.com/?p=10009 Quality Proposals = More Wins   This is a blog post by our good friend Mike Parkinson, CPP APMP Fellow. Mike shares some thoughts on the importance of delivering quality proposals. ——— The quality of your proposal is indicative of the quality of your solution. Decision makers and evaluators instinctively choose solution providers, in part, ...

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Quality Proposals = More Wins

 

This is a blog post by our good friend Mike Parkinson, CPP APMP Fellow. Mike shares some thoughts on the importance of delivering quality proposals.
———

The quality of your proposal is indicative of the quality of your solution. Decision makers and evaluators instinctively choose solution providers, in part, based on clarity, compliance, and professionalism. A professional proposal tells decision makers that they are important and you spent time improving your submission (and the solution). It speaks to the quality of support your organization will provide.

This is true for commercial and government proposals around the world. As long as humans are involved, the quality of the proposal will be one of five key factors when picking a winner. It’s no secret. For example, in a large government RFP from the U.S., the first bolded paragraph under the “Instructions to Offerors” reads:

 

“Offerors are cautioned that the Government considers the overall form and substance of their proposal to represent the general quality of work expected to be performed under this contract. Accordingly, it will be considered throughout the review and scoring/evaluation process.”

 

— Bid referenced FAA AIMM (DTFAWA-13-R-00020), Section L.6.0.

Although common knowledge among proposal professionals, the above example is one of the few times this factor has been formally stated in an RFP.

Think about your buying habits. Do you buy only from trusted vendors and stores? Research proves that people buy from people (and organizations) they trust. When making a buying decision, you trust they will deliver a quality product, service, or experience. The quality of the solution provider’s materials, office, store, and/or staff helps you determine if they will meet your expectations. Perceived professionalism, based upon the quality of the proposal, intrinsically transfers to the solution and the solution provider. All content we deliver to decision makers must support our professionalism to build trust with them. No trust, no win.

Imagine receiving two proposals—both with the same solution. Proposal A is professional, clear, and compelling. Proposal B is unprofessional, noncompliant, confusing, and riddled with errors. Experimentation and experience proves the first proposal is more likely to win. What if Proposal A was priced higher? Again, research proves the higher quality proposal is more likely to win.

quality proposal

There are five critical success factors when choosing a winning proposal: quality, price, sales, reputation, and proof. By far, quality is the easiest to accomplish. Use experienced proposal professionals and proven tools on your next bid, and you will improve the likelihood of winning.

 

THE AUTHOR

Mike Parkinson, CPP APMP Fellow, is an internationally recognized visual communications guru, solutions and proposal expert, and professional trainer. He is a partner and head of marketing at 24 Hour Company (24hrco.com) specializing in bid-winning proposal graphics. His Billion Dollar Graphics website (BillionDollarGraphics.com) shares best practices and helpful tools with professionals.

Contact Mike at mike@24hrco.com or call 703-533-7209.


Do you want to increase your win rate? Try VisibleThread Docs! Sign up here for a 7-day free trial


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