How To Compare Excel Files with VT Docs’ Excel Compare

It’s no secret that most Proposal Managers are busy and under pressure. Have you ever worried that you might miss a costly mistake in your proposal? It could make you look unprofessional in front of your customer and colleagues. Or even lose you the bid.
Emily Mahon

Customer Success Manager

3 min read
A man in a suit looking stressed at a laptop.

So what if I told you that there’s a solution to help you save time, reduce errors, and avoid unnecessary costs? This blog shows how it’s possible to easily compare excel files using VT Docs’ Excel Compare.

What is Excel Compare?

Excel Compare is part of VT Docs, VisibleThread’s complete solution for the bid center. It compares documents, shreds RFPs, creates compliance matrices, and more. In brief, this feature finds changes between two Excel documents.

Excel Compare lets you instantly identify:

  • changes in solicitations
  • mistakes in pricing workbooks
  • compliance gaps and contract updates

It would ordinarily take you hours to compare excel files if you were working manually. This can cause major problems down the line.

Here’s how it works. To compare excel files with VT Docs:

1. Hit the ‘Compare Excel’ button

Within the VT Docs software. An arrow pointing to the compare excel function.

2. Select your Excel documents to compare

In the VT Docs software, an arrow points to the compare excel workbooks function.

3. Hit ‘Compare’

In the VT Docs software, an arrow points to the compare button for comparing excel workbooks.

4. An Excel report will be automatically generated

(The first thing you see is a summary covering the documents’ differences ‘sheet by sheet’.)

In VT Docs, an arrow is pointing to the Excel download file.

5. Look for the column letting you know when data has been ‘ADDED’, ‘DELETED’, ‘IDENTICAL’ or ‘MODIFIED’

In VT Docs, an Excel compare report is shown with an arrow pointing to a column heading labelled identical.

6. Changes between the rows in the sheets are highlighted in red

In VT Docs, in the Excel compare report, a red arrow points to the number of different rows.

7. Drill down into the specific changes by hitting ‘Go’

In VT Docs' feature, the Excel compare report, a red arrow points to the go button.

We’ve also put together a quick video tutorial featuring a step-by-step demo in the product. Watch it here.

What can Proposal Managers use it for?

1. Spotting number changes

Let’s say you have two versions of the same document. One is a pricing workbook you sent to a federal agency along with the proposal. The other is that same workbook amended by them and returned to you. Running both through Excel Compare allows you to easily see the differences. For example, say that the customer edited the cost of delivery of a particular item. It’s important that you notice this change before signing off on the workbook.  And it’s your responsibility to find these changes and work out the wider impact on your costs. Failure to catch this could result in your company approving the workbook, only to discover the change later. Ultimately, this could result in your business losing money.

And Excel Compare also catches changes to dates. Imagine that the government altered a delivery deadline by a few months. You really need to know about that before you sign off the proposal. Or you could end up with some tight deadlines ahead of you, and lots of questions from stressed colleagues.

2. Comparing proposal versions

We know that many federal agencies use Excel for their solicitations, as it’s easier for them to map suppliers against each other. Excel Compare, therefore, allows you to compare different versions. Whether that’s internal documents or updated proposals from the government.

For example, in a rebid situation, you’ll have your original proposal as well as the new RFP. You want to see what’s changed. Are there new costs to factor in, or extra compliance criteria? Perhaps you’ll need to find a teaming partner to carry out some of this new work. You might choose not to rebid if you won’t be able to meet the new requirements. Excel Compare will quickly highlight all changes. You can then instantly assess the situation, and decide what to do next.

Or, imagine you’re working on a pricing workbook internally. You share the Excel document with a Subject Matter Expert who adds his costs. You can use Excel Compare to see what’s changed and ask for any clarifications if needed.

3. Catching updates and errors

Excel Compare is a useful solution for picking up mistakes.

For those using color teams, this might be especially relevant for the Green or Gold Teams. They are reviewing proposals meticulously, checking for any errors. The solution highlights changes between versions, picking up any differences, which allows them to find mistakes.

You can also easily report back on changes to team members. So when Jim asks you at 5pm on a Friday whether his updates were made, you can confirm this in seconds.

4. Checking contracts against proposals

So you won the bid, and now you’ve got the contract. You need to know what has been added, deleted, or changed. Are there any new details about costs? Have dates changed, and will these affect your delivery? Use Excel Compare to quickly and easily determine any updates.

Proposal Managers – we’ve got your back

Managing proposals can be stressful. You can accidentally sign off on costly errors. Oversights can lead to you falling out of the bidding process. You can commit to a delivery schedule that doesn’t work for your business. All of these things are more likely to happen when you’re rushing to meet deadlines. Which, let’s face it, is pretty often in the world of proposals.

Excel Compare reduces the chances of mistakes happening. It also leaves you with more time on your hands. Busy Proposal Managers – can you afford not to use Excel Compare?


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