Nowadays, it’s particularly rare to meet somebody in the business world who never had to deal with the process of responding to a Request for Proposal (RFP). How about someone who knows the benefits of having a knowledge base for your RFP responses?
When it comes to the vendor’s part in this entire procedure, we can easily say that there are a lot of moving parts involved in coming up with the answer. After all, you have a set of complex questions that require well-researched answers, not to mention that you have to work alongside subject matter experts in your organisation, under the pressure of the submission deadlines.
Despite what some people say, RFPs are here to stay. And as a matter of fact, their adoption rate is constantly growing, as buyers are attracted by the concept behind them: a structured way to evaluate products and services.
While product lifecycles are becoming more rapid, they also require more frequent updates to company information, so providing up to date content is, obviously, an essential part of the sales cycle. Still, this is not as easy as it was in the past.
Considering that the content you include in an RFP response is what your company is being judged on, it’s also an essential factor, which can get you on the shortlist – not to mention that it has a big impact on your chances of winning the bid. Still, as mentioned in one of our previous articles, one of the most important decisions a company can make, in order to make RFP management easier is relying on a knowledge sharing platform.
How to manage a knowledge base for your RFP responses
1. Develop all the information in a central repository
One of the first things you should do in order to improve the way you’re handling RFPs is to work with stakeholders and go through the content you have, then upload all the assets that can still be considered viable into a searchable repository. Or, simply put, a knowledge base for your RFP responses. Don’t forget to make it easy for everyone involved to find the content they need.
2. Easy navigation is key
After putting together your knowledge base for RFP responses, you need to make sure that no matter what you will search for, it can be easily found. Therefore, categorize content using tags, according to market segments, internal groups that own the content, but also include security questions or even subcomponents, like authorization, accessibility, or compliance.
3. Constantly check your content
As the size of your organization grows, the same will happen with your knowledge base, so it’s possible that some of the responses will become outdated. Considering this, you need to establish a process in which subject matter experts review all the content periodically, to maintain its accuracy.
4. Get the most out of each RFP
There will be times when you write an amazing answer, which could be used in the future, so it would be a shame to lose it. So besides checking your content regularly and adding updates, you can also create a process that helps you capture any relevant content.
Whether it’s a follow-up question received via email or a quick conversation with a client, our recommendation is to inspect anything that could be relevant for a future RFP, then add it to the knowledge base, so it can be found and used whenever needed.
5. Make your content library a reusable one
When adding new content to a knowledge library, you can accidentally leave information that’s specific to a certain project inside. This shouldn’t be such a big issue, but if you extract that information and use it for another RFP, then it can cause problems.
One of the best practices is to remove any client-specific information when responding to an RFP and, instead, replace it with a placeholder. By doing this, you get rid of the possibility of accidentally using the wrong name in a future RFP, not to mention that this way you make all your information reusable.
6. Stay proactive
You need to make sure that your library is consistent and accurate all the time. There are cases when a product update can affect a lot of entries in the knowledge base and this can affect further responses. Still, making sure that all updates are reflected in the content will surely pay off.
Also, don’t forget about regularly reviewing keywords, as this can significantly reduce confusion around which answer should be used when an RFP comes up. In fact, this is one of the best things you can do to properly manage a knowledge base for RFP responses.
7. Be selective
It can be tempting to add most of your work on into the knowledge base, but it’s also essential to remember that you constantly need to filter the information. If something new goes in, then old and outdated – or simply not fully accurate – information should be removed.
8. Keep evolving
As both organizations and the tools we use evolve, there is room to keep making improvements in managing your RFP response process. Firstly, there will always be content that needs updates and people do tend to forget about them. This can be easily solved by setting reminders. Subject matter experts should also be involved in developing your knowledge base, as it can alleviate some burden from RFP writers.
As for organizing your knowledge base for RFP responses, we have one last tip: organize it in mini libraries. It will not only be easy to find the information you need, but this can also help your team ensure that they are using content suitable for each client.
We have already covered the process of running an effective RFP process, but there is always room for improvement. As for managing the knowledge base for your RFP responses, having a strategy in place can be based on three aspects:
- Never think about starting from scratch. If responding to RFPs is what you and your team do, this idea will never be scalable or realistic.
- Keep your content updated and easily searchable. Shared drives are far from being as helpful as an up-to-date and well-organized library is.
- Seriously consider using an RFP response automation software. After all, it makes everything easier for everybody, as the knowledge base can be accessed by all parties involved in the process.