COVID-19 Means No War Rooms, No Wall Walks – Overcoming Remote Working Challenges for Proposal Teams

Evelyn Wolf
4 min read
A unoccupied desk with a laptop open which has glasses resting on the keyboard with a pen, notepad, and phone next to it.

Overcoming Remote Working Challenges for Proposal Teams

Most Bid Center teams have been thrust into working from home. COVID-19 has accelerated the concept of the Modern Workplace in our proposal industry. No more contract war rooms, no more face-to-face meetings, no more collaboration through wall walks.

At the same time, pressure on proposal teams has increased. Government agencies publish RFPs, solicitations, and contract opportunities daily. In fact, with the latest government stimulus plans, the tempo has increased for many. This means making informed bid / no bid decisions faster. And, if you decide to work on a proposal you must understand all requirements reliably and quickly and from a remote workplace. And you can’t take on extra staff easily due to constraints placed on your company’s overheads and COVID-19 uncertainty.

In-person meetings are gone, war rooms are shut. What next?

Physical meetings are not possible. We are working from home. This “Modern Workplace” increases risk and potential quality loss to proposal teams. And this is not surprising, most teams haven’t worked 100% remotely until now. Remote workforces completely new tools and new behavior patterns on teams. Most of us were already using conferencing tools like Skype, Zoom, and GoToMeeting. But we now need to look at the proposal process itself. Here are some areas to consider.

Reliable shreds, easy to generate, simple to share

As a proposal manager, you must fully understand and communicate the requirements. Nothing has changed there. But you can now automate the tedious copy/paste activity that goes into any shred. The risk of missing a requirement and not including it in your Compliance Matrix is as important as ever.

Copy/paste is something most of us are familiar with when shredding a document by hand. We likely don’t have the luxury of hiring staff to help us. So, anything that can reliably speed this task will help. Introducing solutions like VT Docs to your proposal management process doesn’t just speed up your process. It cuts down on human error too. What if requirements are buried in areas of the RFP outside of sections C, L, and M? How do you efficiently shred the SOW, PWS, etc.?

It’s easy to miss key requirements when you’re under a time crunch, and now working remotely. Without the benefit of colleagues down the hall to bounce things off.

So, if you can cut that time from hours to minutes, you optimize your process. It doesn’t mean you don’t read the content, it simply equates to saving massive amounts of copy/paste time. Going from hours to minutes.

Then you can easily share a shred as an Excel spreadsheet with colleagues. In fact, you can even use an automated shred as a way of sizing likely effort, and as a starting point for your bid / no bid decision.

Spotting sensitive and COVID-19 related FARs and DFARs and categorizing them.

The FAR (Federal Acquisition Requirements) is always expanding. And with COVID, we need to identify which FARs are impacted. The OMB has published quite a bit on this here.

We need to review possible existing contracts and new contracts for these changing requirements.

A Responsibility Matrix becomes a vital tool to do this. It categorizes specific requirements into distinct swim lanes. So you and your team quickly understand critical types of requirements and responsibilities. Just like automating the document shredding process for will, shall, must etc., you can do the same for critical (e.g., flow downs, IP, etc.) FARs and DFARs. Save time, avoid human error by introducing simple software solutions to your team.

Comparing drafts and final RFPs 

Accurately comparing documents by hand and/or using MS Word is time consuming and introduces heightened risk of human error. You need to know exactly what has changed in seconds with full compare reports. You need to know how this impacts your response and your team. And if you’re on the contracts side of the house, you must quickly identify material change in contracts. Those changes that may very well trip you up. These can affect your pricing colleagues too.

You can tackle these high-risk areas through automation and software solutions. You can get more detail on how this can save you time and reduce risk here.

No Wall Walks – How to ensure proposal quality remotely

Quality proposals are winning proposals. But when teams are learning how to work physically apart from each other, quality can suffer.

Single Tone of Voice Support 

Wall Walks help bring clarity and a common thread to proposal responses. We know from customers like
Collins Aerospace, that proposals with a strong readability ranking and single tone of voice win more bids. The recipient gets a clearer picture of what you can provide. You are not hiding behind complexity. The recipient knows exactly what they can expect from you.

Your recipient is just like you. They worry about COVID-19, their job, their families and team. More than likely their stress level is higher than usual. They didn’t expect new projects with such high urgency. Their time is stretched. Their attention divided between multiple tasks.

Writing your response in Plain English and a single tone of voice means you have a higher chance of capturing your recipient’s attention. Now more than ever, they will opt for the most straightforward response.

Clear communication isn’t something that comes easily to most of us. We are subject matter experts, not professional writers. So work with software solutions to improve your readability.

Acronym Definition

In “normal” times it’s difficult enough to figure out: 

  • Are all acronyms defined?
  • Is the first instance of the acronym spelled out fully?
  • Is only the first instance spelled out fully?

The “new normal” is even more pressurized. Time is of the essence to respond to the crisis. Yet new worries and ways of working demand our brain power, too. Take the pressure off and let solutions like VT Docs solve your acronym soup.

Lots of notes stuck on a whiteboard.

Back to the War Room

We will get back to the physical War Room and working in offices to some extent. But the new normal has pushed us more towards a virtual workspace. We will come through this crisis with stronger, but more distributed teams. And, even though “the new normal” is a lot to take on right now, it delivers learnings we can take back into the War Room.

Software solutions and automation can take the strain off your teams right now. And support you well into the future. Manual tasks introduce high risk and a potential loss of quality. So instead, introduce a solution that gives your team back time. Time to focus on the best pitch, time to think creatively about solutions.


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