How To Write An RFP Executive Summary

How To Write An RFP Executive Summary

Have you been tasked with writing a fresh Request For Proposal (RFP) executive summary? If so, it is not an easy task. To be concise and clear while also compelling, your understanding of the client’s unique needs must be demonstrated as well as capturing how they can get value from buying what you offer to them.

An RFP executive summary is a helpful way to summarize your RFP response in just one page. It captures the most important elements of the proposal and provides additional context.

The people who would be reading the executive summary would expect it to summarize the proposal’s main offerings with compelling elements of the bid. They would read it to learn how your company can meet their specific objectives and why your company should be selected above all others. All this would be stated on a single page so that busy stakeholders can digest it quickly.

Who Writes An Executive Summary?

The proposal coordinator is generally charged with writing the executive summary of your response. However, it can be a job for sales or marketing. They might be most familiar with how to tailor their company’s products towards meeting specific needs.

When You Should Write An Executive Summary

Some argue that writing the executive summary of your proposal at the beginning, before developing the proposal, will help guide you and your messaging. Conversely, others recommend waiting until near or even after completion of the proposal to create this crucial document for sharing with potential clients or customers. They may be looking over proposals from other vendors in hope that they can find one worth considering more closely than others.

Executive Summary Best Practices

Now that you have all the basics down, here are some important tips for writing an effective executive summary:

In Your Response, Make Sure To Focus On The Customer

Address their criteria and needs with a clear explanation of how you will deliver value for those areas as well. This way they can quickly see if there are any potential gaps in meeting their priorities without having to read everything.

It Is Important To Keep Your Summary Brief

Make every sentence count and use the space wisely so it can be read easily by readers, even if they are on a tight schedule.

Leverage Your Knowledge Library

The proposal content repository in your RFP response software does not just have to be for responses, you can also store executive summary text there too. Store sections of valuable information with tags and categorization. This way they are easily found when drafting future summaries on topics similar or related to those highlighted within this section of the application.

Make Sure It Can Stand Alone

Your executive summary is the first impression that your company will have to give. It is important, both for you and those who are looking over this, to make an impact with what they are reading in not only be remembered but also stand out among other responses.

Follow Instructions

This may seem basic, but it is not uncommon for procurement teams to disqualify vendors that did not follow directions. For example, we have seen some RFPs with limits on page size or topics covered. Make sure you are aware of any specific requirements before submitting your bid.

Conclusion

Creating the perfect executive summary is a never-ending process. Indeed, each one needs to be customized for your audience. It should be written in such way that will interest them enough, so that they want more information from you

Big Data Analytics

Big Data Analytics

What Is Big Data Analytics?

Big data analytics is the process of using advanced analytic techniques against very large, diverse datasets that include structured and unstructured information from different sources. The data can be found in terabytes or zettabytes depending on what type it is –this means there’s plenty for an analyst to analyze.

A more detailed definition: “Big Data” refers both to semi-structured (like databases) as well as semi-unchanged items (like social media posts with hashtags).

What is big data? It can be defined as a collection of information sets whose size or type exceed the capabilities for traditional databases to capture, manage, and process them with low latency. Characteristics include high volumes (volume), high velocities (velocity), and many different types/formats. These large files are difficult for our current technology infrastructure designed around single file storage models. Such models were developed decades ago when we had less access points into people’s lives than today. 

Big data analytics opens a world of possibilities for business. It can ultimately help you make better decisions, model the future with more accuracy, and predict how well your strategy will work out in advance.

Examples Of Big Data Analytics In Industries

A new form of healthcare analytics is enabling faster responses to emerging diseases and improving direct patient care, the customer experience, as well administrative functions.

Financial analytics is an invaluable tool. It can be used by businesses to make better informed underwriting decisions and provide a more seamless experience with claims management. The information gathered through financial data crunching has been shown time and again as being key in reducing risk and fraud.

Communications Service Providers (CSP) are using big data analytics to optimize network monitoring, management and performance. This helps them mitigate risk while also reducing costs. They can improve customer targeting by leveraging the power of analytics. This makes it easier for people who want their services available at any time even if there’s no Wi-Fi connection.

Big Data Analytics In Healthcare

Telemedicine is the future of healthcare. It has been used to provide new and improved ways for patients, especially those who are unable or unwilling to travel far from home. The use cases range across diverse fields including telesurgery (surgeries conducted via video link), remote diagnosis, and monitoring services. 

Big Data Analytics In Financial Services

Financial services companies can use advanced analytics to build a 360-degree customer view. With the ability for clients’ and employees’ access, financial information anywhere at any time, customers are expecting personalized service that takes their needs into consideration. This is to provide them with an enriching experience beyond just banking or investing funds, which would also be possible through this technology.

Big Data Analytics In Communications Service Providers

The 5G cellular network will be a revolutionary game-changer for applications that require ultra-reliable connectivity. It is expected to dramatically improve mobile technology. This improved cellular network will make it possible to create mission critical systems. Autonomous vehicles with fail-safe abilities, or remotely operated complex automation equipment without risk of failure from unforeseen circumstances.

RFP Response Questions

RFP Response Questions

A Request for Proposals (RFP) is announced by a buyer or an enterprise for all interested contractors or vendors to meet the announced need. It is a formal protocol when serious business is done. In awarding government contracts, the government considers expertise as well as low pricing. By law, government agencies are required to make public calls for services to prevent unfair commercial favoritism. This public invitation stimulates competition.

RFPs demand detailed specifications, more skill, cost-effectiveness, and strict compliance. The contractors or vendors submit a proposal offering to meet the need. It describes what they can provide and at what price and in what time frame for the requesting government agency or buyer.

An RFP allows a client an opportunity to outline what they need and want from a vendor. The RFP process also offers vendors the chance to demonstrate why they are the best company for the project, which is why it’s important both parties ask each other questions throughout this time period.

Here are some good questions that a vendor should ask when responding to an RFP:

How Will The Customer Evaluate The Proposals?

The client will evaluate the proposals it receives from vendors. The criteria they use include how well a proposal matches their needs and if there is an effective plan for implementation in place. They might also look at the overall price charged to influence its final decision. It is also vital to ask a client what the most important criteria are when submitting proposals. Knowing what they want will help companies shape their proposal around the client’s needs and wants.

Why Choose Our Company?

Asking this question will give a supplier/vendor an understanding of why a client decided to include it in the RFP. This knowledge can include what they already know about them and how high they rank among their competitors.

What Will Happen To Competitors’ Responses Once The Proposals Are Submitted?

How long will it take for your company to find out if you’ve been accepted into the next phase of the process? Will they be able to notify you as things go along, or do all updates have a set timeline that is strictly adhered to. It is also important that we know what this final decision time frame looks like so that there are no hindrances in our workflow. It also prevents oversights.

Who Reviews The Proposals, And How?

Will the employees at your client’s company read over each proposal? Will an external team evaluate them instead? Knowing who will be reading your proposal can help you decide what tone to use, and which details are relevant.

Conclusion

It is important for both the customers and the vendors to ask smart questions when engaging in contracts for business. Customers asking the right questions throughout the process will help them put together a strong RFP. And vendors knowing what questions to ask also allows them to determine if they should respond. This can save time and money and improve communication between both parties in negotiations with RFPs during contract negotiation processes.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) software technology will help with the development of the proposal capture process. The Contract and Proposal Suite, which is a part of the Content Analytics Platform (CAP), developed by Scion Analytics, can ensure the crafting of winning proposals.

What Is Decision Intelligence?

What Is Decision Intelligence?

Decision intelligence is a powerful tool that can be used to make more accurate and efficient business decisions. Decision-makers can identify what actions lead, or may have led in the past, to outcomes with some degree of certainty. This is because they understand how these choices were affected by previous ones.

Decision intelligence is a branch of data analytics using machines empowered with Artificial Intelligence (AI). It focuses on making more accurate and efficient decisions based on the knowledge about how actions lead to outcomes. Decision-making organizations can reduce change time with this type of research, which helps eliminate uncertainty in their process too. Decision intelligence is the study of how decisions come about through knowledge and understanding.

Decision-making machines can process information like humans, but they can handle much larger amounts than our own brains. With Machine Learning (ML), an organization no longer needs to rely on guesswork and intuition. The algorithms can analyze chains of cause-and-effect. This process finds the best possible outcome for their business decisions with a quantitative structure. This offers reliable insights into what is most likely going to happen.

Decision intelligence is a key component of any enterprise-level decision process, and the use of ML can accelerate the time to ROI. Decision engines are capable not only for making quicker decisions but also for reducing uncertainty by acting on vast data inputs with minimal human interference.

Decision Intelligence Process

Decision intelligence makes decisions by going through five steps. This process is similar to the way that humans decide, and it’s very human-like in nature:

Observe

Various sources of relevant information are gathered by the models such as historical and transactional data, etc.

Investigate

Pictures of potential outcomes are seen when the information is sifted

Model

After general considerations, models can pursue alternate options based on existing possibilities

Contextualize

After considering the complexity of a situation, a range of possible actions is offered

Execute

A decided action is executed

The decision models are one of three types:

Human Decisions

After the machines provide visualization and insight, humans solely decide

Machine Decisions

Decisions are made independently by machines, and they cannot always account for these decisions

Hybrid Decisions

An outcome is decided by both the humans and machines. In this case, the machines can either take action or recommend according to the task

Decision Intelligence Benefits

Speedier Business Decisions

Decision intelligence has many benefits for businesses. The biggest of these is simply reducing the time it takes to make decisions. As business grows, decision-making becomes more complex with hundreds or even thousands of people involved in various stages at once. Making a choice can take time. Slow choices leave value on table.

Reduced Business Risks

Businesses reduce risk by balancing the need for speedy decision-making with making sure they’re getting it right. Machines process information quickly and can handle more of it at one time, which is helpful when there’s unforeseen consequences that could slow down progress or miss crucial details.

Prevents Risky Biases

It is easy for humans to fall into decision-making biases. One such is a preference for doing things in one specific way, which can lead an enterprise towards bad decisions. Machines have already shown themselves capable of overcoming many of the pitfalls that come from being human.

Conclusion

More companies are realizing that it is easier to make decisions with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This not only makes enterprise-level movements more efficient, but also reduces risks. They can quickly pivot when new demands need to be met–all the while becoming better insulated against disruptions.

What Is Unstructured Data Used For?

What Is Unstructured Data Used For?

You may not have heard of it, but data is a big deal. And there is a challenge with all this new information coming at us daily. More than 90% of it is unstructured. But what does that mean and why should you care about this?

With the recent flood of unstructured data, it has become easier than ever for businesses to make use of this new source. The goal of analyzing all types or formats is to discover actionable value.

What Is Unstructured Data?

Unstructured data are data contents that cannot be neatly fitted into a spreadsheet or accessed as easily as a database. It is difficult to store and manage, but creative minds have been finding new ways all the time.

The challenge with unstructured data is that it is not easily stored in a traditional column-row database or spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel. It can be difficult both to analyze and to search, which has made this type of information less useful for organizations. Less useful until recently now that we have tools powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). These new AI programs were specifically created to access insights from these types of unstructured data sets.

Unstructured Data Importance

As more and more data gets generated, it is important that organizations find ways to manage this information so they can act on the insights. This helps businesses prosper in competitive environments where having Big Data access always translates into success for an organization no matter what their industry might be.

Since most unstructured data contents do not follow any grid-like pattern whatsoever, it takes some serious digging through databases or spending hours wading through countless pages online. Such efforts are needed if you

want something meaningful enough to report back with good results. Thankfully, Machine Learning (ML) has come alongside human intelligence.

Unstructured Data Examples

Unstructured data is any kind of information that does not fit into a spreadsheet or database structure. The most common examples are email or document texts, social media posts, or chat messages. These all lack grid order and can be difficult to analyze because there is not always an obvious way you would categorize them.

Here are some common types of unstructured data:

· Text files

· Photos

· Video files

· Audio files

· Web pages and blog posts

· Social media sites

· Presentations

· Call center transcripts

· Open-ended survey responses

Conclusion

For data-driven organizations, data is the lifeblood of any company and knowing what information to collect can be difficult. Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics tools such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) are being developed that have been specifically created with this goal in mind –analyzing all types or formats so you can discover actionable insights on demand.

The Content Analytics Platform (CAP), developed by Scion Analytics, can help with data discovery. The CAP can quickly analyze any textual data, in any format, and turn it into structured data that is discoverable for value.

What Is Unstructured Data Discovery?

What Is Unstructured Data Discovery?

In the age of big data, it is crucial to be able to identify and provide visibility into where your organization stores its information. This process is known as Data Discovery –identifying structured or unstructured data stored in various databases. These can be found across a variety of different sources (like social media sites). Data volume consumed at any given time.

Unstructured data is information in many different forms that does not follow conventional models. Basically, it is data that cannot be neatly fitted onto a spreadsheet. It is difficult to store and manage, but creative minds have been finding new ways all the time.

With the recent flood of unstructured data, it has become easier than ever for businesses to make use of this new source. Business Analytics (BI) and analytics tools are being developed that have been specifically created with the goal in mind. The goal of analyzing all types or formats to discover actionable value.

Unstructured Data Discovery Importance

Businesses must know what data they hold, its contexts, and where it is located before they can protect that data from compromise, exfiltration, or threats. This holds true for ensuring data accuracy and complying with various privacy and security mandates.

When the data is properly discovered, it can be classified. Data classification is the process of tagging data according to its type, its sensitivity or confidentiality, and the cost if altered or stolen. 

With classification information, you can implement security controls to protect data from accidental or intentional compromise as well as comply with the compliance mandates.

Benefits of Unstructured Data Discovery

When businesses know what data they hold, its contexts, and where it is located, they can then benefit in these ways:

Implement Data Classification Processes

Data classification is an important step in the process of making data easily searchable and trackable. It also eliminates multiple duplications, which can reduce storage costs while speeding up this entire procedure.

Apply Context-Sensitive Security Controls and Access Controls

With Context-Sensitive access, you can decide which apps a user has access to, which are based on their context. For example, if there are certain IT policies in place and they want the users’ devices to conform, then this feature will allow for it.

Execute Context-Sensitive Disaster Recovery Exercises

Context-Sensitive weighs the who, what, when, and where of access requests according to organizational needs. 

Conduct Context-Sensitive Monitoring and Audits

Contextualized security systems empower organizations to take a more holistic approach when it comes to real-time decision making.

Conclusion

Data is the lifeblood of any company and knowing what information to collect can be difficult. However, when you have a discovery process in place, data classification becomes much easier.

In the age of Big Data, it’s easier than ever for businesses to extract value from unstructured data. BI and analytics tools are being developed that have been specifically created with this goal in mind –analyzing all types or formats so you can discover actionable insights on demand.

The Content Analytics Platform (CAP), developed by Scion Analytics, can help with data discovery. The CAP can quickly analyze any textual data, in any format, and turn it into structured data that is discoverable for value. 

Can Your Business Use Instagram to Generate Leads?

Can Your Business Use Instagram to Generate Leads?

Instagram has evolved from a photogenic, cool kid’s app to a more sophisticated, brand driven arbiter of visual content. Instagram business accounts know the basics of the game: know your audience, tailor content to the audience, post quality content frequently, and engage with followers. This falls short of the business storytelling aspect that humanizes a brand to its followers. The ephemeral video on Instagram is unedited and spontaneous, staying in the moment for the aesthetically driven user. How can this feature be used for high quality lead generation for business? What are other Instagram post strategies that bring leads?

The marketing principle to remember behind Instagram for lead generation is storytelling. The audience is unlikely to engage or want to volunteer information if they don’t feel compelled. The content should be authentic, humanizing, and most of all relevant to your niche.

Some more long-term ways to nurture lead generation is to humanize the business and feature the fans. Humanizing the brand will lead to genuine brand relationship and the ability of your followers to trust you. This trust will convert into more followers and new leads. An idea is to give followers a sneak peek behind the scenes or share how the business got its humble beginnings. Social media users are tired of direct sales pitches and in your face advertising. Taking this approach might be refreshing and captivating for many followers.

By featuring fans on your business Instagram, you add credibility to your brand. If these fans are vouching for you, then your business must be great. Telling a story how your product or service made a difference in the fan’s life will draw in new followers that will turn into customers. It shows a level of caring and commitment to the customers and makes for a great marketing story.

For lead generation to happen successfully on Instagram, a business needs to be aware of their message and curate their video presence. Whether just a beginner or an experienced user, it is not enough to create targeted video content. A business must utilize lead capturing strategies to capitalize on this ephemeral feature. The sense of urgency and exclusivity will be in favor of product teasers, fun contests, and engaging Q&A session. A business with consistency and creativity could gather a lot of valuable information from their followers. As far as the big picture, brand strategy needs to be present on Instagram with excellent storytelling. By posting behind the scenes and insider view, a business becomes human to its followers and therefore more authentic. An Instagram account that features fans of the business to tell the story is gaining the trust of its follower base. Long term, this authenticity and trust will evolve into new leads and growth for the business.

Instagram has matured, and so have the lead generation practices that work on the app. Refining the storytelling aspect and being congruent with the business’ message will be attractive to new followers. It will be exciting how many more effective practices for lead generation on Instagram will come with time.

RFP Questions

RFP Questions

The government is the largest procurer of goods and services in the world. To attain such status, the government needs to function as a well structured and regulated machine in its RFP process. When RFPs are issued by the government, it gives the client an opportunity to outline exactly what it needs from a vendor in the contract. In turn, the RFP process allows the vendor to demonstrate to the client because they are the best choice for the project. Inherent in that interaction is the opportunity to ask questions before, during, and after receiving an RFP. As with everything in life, asking the right questions is half the battle. For both parties, asking the right questions will put together a stronger RFP. It also manages expectations when it comes to the negotiation process with a client.

Here are the important questions to ask before starting the RFP process:

What Is The problem?

In this discovery process, a vendor can ask the client the purpose of the RFP process. Why are you starting the RFP process? What does your company hope to achieve?

This gives the vendor an opportunity to outline the problem the client is trying to solve. By outlining the pain points and areas for growth, both parties have a clear idea of where the company wants to go and the steps that are needed to achieve the goal.

Do The Goals Of The Project Align With The Goals Of The Company?

Some of the follow-up questions after identifying the major objectives can relate to what the vendors need from the clients. What specifically do the vendors need for the company to work with them? The more details a client can provide the better it is including technical and security requirements. A lot of clients require extensive vendor references to hire them for a project. Another question a vendor might specify is what type of references they want to see from a client. Some vendors prefer to check references such as the scope and shape of the project.

What Is The Scope Of The Project?

The right RFP questions include ones that outline the goals of the project as well as the timeline for deliverables. How long will each phase of the project take? How will parts of the project be adjusted along the way? By defining the project scope and identifying priorities, vendors are given clear directions for implementing a workable plan for execution. It is also important to figure out the company’s budget for the project in this stage. By setting up a budget, vendors have an idea of what you are looking for and will shape their proposals to match the needs of the project.

Who Is The Point Person On The Project?

The last critical question to ask before starting the RFP process is who the right point person on the project is. This helps the client identify who makes the purchasing decisions and brings the most value to the RFP process. It allows the client to stress the importance of meeting and exceeding the needs of the vendor.

By asking the right critical questions, both the vendor and client benefit in the RFP process. From identifying the problem being solved by the RFP to communicating with the right person on the project, the right questions will ensure a successful project.

RFP Metrics

RFP Metrics

The RFP process has changed over the years. Gone are the hours and days of proposal managers poring manually over sentence-level and paragraph-level word choices. Proposal teams no longer must worry about one error or omission leading to noncompliance. Recently, a Director of Business Development at a leading defense contractor provided a great example. He said he and his team spent months working over an RFP, going over every detail to make sure not to miss any of the requirements. After months of hard work, the government kicked back the RFP to them over a minor omission that led to noncompliance. The director lamented that his team could have used an RFP automation software such as the Proposal & Contract Suite to streamline RFP metrics and ensure compliance.

The following RFP metrics can be used to inform bid/no-bid decisions:

Making Sure Your Company Is A Good Fit For The RFP

One of the most important lessons proposal teams can learn is that time is valuable. It shouldn’t be spent on proposals you are not likely to win. How to determine if your company is a good fit for the proposal? Foremost, it is determining what problem the RFP is looking to solve. What are the features and functionalities on the “should have” and “must have” lists? Sometimes, companies issue “wired RFP” where the winner is predetermined based on prior performance. The existence of an incumbent indicates that the RFP is not a good use of time for other bidders.

Do Due Diligence On The RFP Issuer

For a company that is looking to win business, it is important to do the homework before bidding on the RFP issuer. For example, doing a background check can uncover more information such as:

1. Has this company previously issued RFPs?

2. Did your company previously submit an RFP for this project? If yes, did you win?

If your company finds out that they were previously shortlisted for an RFP with the same company it signals an opportunity. Perhaps, the issuer of the RFP wasn’t happy with the other vendor’s solution, and this is a chance for your company to shine. Looking at the previously submitted RFP with a critical eye can be that second chance at a competitive advantage.

Analyzing Past Wins

It has been said that the best predictor of the future is the past. When a company is serious about using RFP metrics and winning business, it does something different to gain a competitive advantage. Using an RFP automation software such as the Proposal & Contract Suite can give new data-driven insight to companies. Using capabilities such as the Compliance Matrix and Bid/No Bid can automate the proposal process. Automation enables companies to bid on and win more RFP. It promotes opportunity and enables bandwidth. The unique feature of the platform’s flexibility and options for customization. Therefore, a company can select its customized RPF metrics and create data outputs and Excel spreadsheets to track those metrics.

Conclusion

RFP automation software is the key to a company unlocking and tracking key RFP metrics to ensure success in the proposal process.

Proposal Win Rate

Proposal Win Rate

In the government contracting space, businesses are obsessed with “win rate”. After the movie “War Dogs” and the main character played by Jonah Hill, “win rate” fever spread across the country. However, before chasing a higher win rate, what makes a “good win rate” in the first place? The win rate can vary dramatically if a business is responding to a new opportunity or bidding on a previously executed contract. Research of past performance has found that incumbent win rates however between 60-90% whereas the probability of winning new opportunities is around 15%. For a business, having an established relationship with the issuer of the RPF greatly increases the likelihood of winning.

Therefore, it depends on what makes a good win rate. Some businesses have an aggressive strategy that entails responding to as many RFPs as possible. This translates to a lower win rate of less than 20% because these companies respond blindly. Other companies only respond to an RFP when the issuer has directly invited them, and they are slated to win. These situations yield a higher win rate.

How to Increase Proposal Win Rates

Many businesses want to know the secret to achieve a higher pWin rate. The initial step is to determine a strategic approach to proposal then establish a realistic win rate goal. Industry practices have shown that one of the best ways to increase pWin rate is to nurture a connection with the customer before the issue of the RFP. Using a capture approach and hiring a capture manager can help a business establish a good client relationship before the RFP hits the market. This is also an opportunity to use another department such as marketing to develop a targeted marketing strategy that emphasizes trust and encourages interaction with the sales team.

Another way to increase pWin rate is to selectively respond to strong opportunities. This can be done by creating a matrix of the best opportunities for the company. This allows companies to focus their time and resources on the most viable opportunities that align with their brand and offerings.

The RFP process is competitive for the most desirable and high-value contracts. Therefore, companies that are positioned to win business spend a great deal of time studying the tactics and approaches of their competition. This enables companies to build a case in the proposal of being a “better fit” than their competition. Also, this helps companies to tailor their proposals more to the customer’s needs. Logically, tailored proposals win more and for most businesses, it is worth that extra effort to win the contract.

Conclusion

The proposal win rate is the defining factor of profitability for businesses that work with the government. While every business wants a higher “pWin rate” the reality is that businesses need to put in time and resources into increasing pWin. By building and maintaining relationships with issuers of RFP, tailoring the responses, and studying the tactics of the competition businesses can learn how to be more strategic and competitive.