CIO-SP4: Report all changes between draft and final RFP in under 2 minutes. Pure fantasy?

Fergal McGovern

CEO & Founder

4 min read
Compare documents - proposal managers RFP

After months of waiting, the final version of the CIO-SP4 RFP now looks like it will drop by end of January or early February. You will then have to scrutinize 150+ dense pages for any changes that will impact your proposal, including technical and scope changes.

You will need to do it as fast as you can to identify any material changes in scope – the submission deadline is in March and there’s a ton of work to do before then.

And you better not miss anything.

Welcome to the time challenge.

For proposal managers, this phase is always a period of pressure and stress. But there is a way to save days of time and effort.

The painful way to do it

When faced with two versions of an RFP, most proposal managers do one of two things:

  • Manually check both docs by printing them out
  • Run both docs through MS Word or Adobe Pro Compare

Manually checking two documents involves hour upon hour of eyeball-melting work. When you’re reading through hundreds of thousands of words and comparing two slightly different versions, it’s extremely easy to make mistakes. Mistakes you can’t afford. And it can take days. Time you can’t afford.

You’d think using MS Word or Adobe Pro Compare would be preferable. The software can instantly compare two documents and not miss a thing. Great. Well, not quite!

The problem is these comparison tools were not designed for what you really need. There are two main issues:

1.  MS Word and Adobe Pro Compare are designed
to merge docs

MS Word Compare is designed to merge files, not to compare textual differences side by side. While it shows the differences, it basically shows all changes to either doc in a combined view.

It’s extremelyvery difficulthard to seeread all of the Amendmentsamendments.

This places a high cognitive load on the reader.

When you factor in that MS Word also highlights format changes such as font size, your brain needs to process even more “noise”. Contract and proposal managers do not care about format changes.

And finally, related paragraphs aren’t lined up side by side. The whole thing is an assault on your senses. Here’s an example of how it looks with 2 real RFPs:

Compare Documents - MS Word compare

2. You need a report, not a view

And even then, once you’ve identified important changes, you can’t use the view from MS Word or Adobe Pro to report on them, assign tasks and manage the workflow. How is pricing affected by any changes? Will our tech volume need updating?

So you waste time copying and pasting the changes to create a report in a different format – normally an Excel spreadsheet or Word table, where you note the more risky or materially important changes, and then share this report with the wider team. This is not only time consuming, it’s also a recipe for mistakes.

The other way to do it – in under 2 minutes

Now let’s consider the alternative.

VT Docs Compare Docs capability is specifically designed to compare two long and complex documents, and to make the comparison quick and easy. Even more importantly, in 1-click it produces a report you can use instantly. A report you can share. A report that becomes a tool to manage and coordinate proposal delivery.

How Compare Docs works

Compare Docs, part of our VT Docs solution, compares MS Word documents and PDFs.

It’s easy to use. Select the two documents and hit “Compare”, and your export is instantly and automatically generated in Excel.

  • The two documents are shown in two columns. Each column is divided into paragraphs, and the matching paragraphs are side by side.
  • Text changes are simply highlighted in red. Formatting changes are ignored, so there’s no unnecessary visual complication.
  • Each paragraph is marked “Identical”, “Modified” or “Deleted” in another column. You can use Excel to filter the paragraphs, so if you want to see only the modified ones it’s easy to do.
  • You can see small changes, like “HR” being turned into “Human Resources”,  which will have no impact on scope or solution delivery. But larger differences, such as an entirely new paragraph with “contractor shall” statements, could impact scope and pricing in a material way.
  • Since the generated output is Excel, you can add columns as you wish. For example, add a “status”, “compliant (y/n)” or “owner” column.

The result is clear, easy to use, flexible and powerful. Here’s what it looks like (in a 90 second video).

Why it’s better (by far)

Minutes after starting work, you have a report that shows you exactly what’s changed. A report that you now use to take the next steps, prioritize certain changes as significant, and flag changes for your pricing and technical colleagues to review.

Compare this with the pain of a manual comparison or the visual mess of running the two docs through Word or Adobe Pro. Compare Docs is faster and more accurate than a manual comparison, and faster and far easier to use than Word or Adobe Pro.

But those aren’t the only advantages. You now have a new document, not just the original RFP covered with annotations. The report is an Excel document so it’s customizable. You can add columns to indicate which teams are responsible for which changes or to prioritize tasks. The report is something you can work with in multiple ways – it both highlights the changes and helps you deal with them.

When you’re faced with the final version of the CIO-SP4 RFP, Compare Docs will be your secret weapon.

What customers say about Compare Docs

“WINNER! We love it. So much easier to read than the output of Word and Adobe.”

– Director of Proposals, Top 10 Government Contractor

“The results… take less than 10 minutes to completion, instead of 2-3 weeks.”

– Contractor at a top 5 defense contractor

“Will probably cut down our review time by 60%.”

– Proposal Manager, Minority Business

“Awesome, I just spent 6 hours doing exactly this.”

– Senior Proposal Manager, Top 10 government contractor

Download the full CIO-SP4 RFP compare for FREE

As a bonus we’re offering the full draft vs final CIO-SP4 RFP compare report to anyone who’s interested. Just register here, and we’ll mail you the full compare report once the final version drops.


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