I just wrote a 9-page article based on my interview with Ben Rowland, a Washington, DC virtual proposals expert, that I would like to share with you. This detailed article discusses the common challenges and provides tips, tricks, resources, and tools for managing virtual proposals.
Virtual Proposals Secrets: Interview with Ben Rowland
By Olessia Smotrova-Taylor
Virtual proposals are becoming a lot more frequent, and more companies are starting to embrace the concept. It is still an uncharted territory for others, however. There are various beliefs about virtual proposals that prevent people from embracing the concept. The main one is that it is impossible to generate the same level of creativity and ideas as one can in a “boiler room” or “war room” situation. There are also proposal security concerns, and doubts whether one can be as efficient in managing a large team remotely. I have been running virtual proposals for years, but for this article I wanted to bring you the perspective of a true virtual proposal expert.
This article is an interview with Ben Rowland, a Washington, DC capture and proposal consultant who also helps companies implement virtual solutions, including remote collaboration tools, processes, and procedures. Ben has been in the federal contracting proposal market for 12 years, entering it from the graphics side of the house. He has had a whole spectrum of proposal professions, from an artist and graphics director to proposal coordinator, volume lead, technical writer, proposal manager, and proposal director. He has experience setting up proposal shops and proposal departments, and has been running virtual proposals of all sizes for nearly a decade.
We spent more than two hours discussing virtual proposals with Ben, so that you can pick up a number of useful tips and insights from this interview:
O. Ben, when did you seriously delve into the world of virtual proposals?
B: I have worked on smaller virtual proposals for a long time but started running large virtual proposals six or seven years ago with managing a $500 million proposal for Unisys. I was in charge together with two other colleagues, overseeing a virtual team of 70 geographically dispersed people. Smaller groups have always had great success in virtual proposals, but this proposal really gave me my first chance to see lots of moving pieces, subject matter expertise needed, and editing cycles on a very large scale. When we started the proposal, everybody said: “oh, this will never work… not having your subject matter experts (SME) on site, not having editors available here to work around the clock, it won’t work.” The team decided to adopt the opposite attitude: it would work even better because of team’s locations in different time zones. I had staff at my beck and call 20 hours a day. It ended up working very well, we made the deadline and came on budget. And Unisys won.
O: Do you see a lot more virtual proposals these days?
B: Oh yes, and I’ll tell you why. The main driver is cost savings. Savings shows up in not having to provide a room, a chair, a desk, and a desktop for an employee. You save electricity, time and labor badging, parking, travel expenses, all the way down to less pizza to buy. There is value and efficiencies beyond just cost savings, but I really do think that the driving force behind the trend is cost savings.
O: What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in virtual proposals?
B: Well, challenge number one has been security. Quite frankly, the reliable technology to keep network documents secure has been around for more than a decade, but what hasn’t been around is the mentality that this technology can be trusted. In has been harder to run proposals virtually in larger companies, whereas it has been traditionally easier in smaller companies.
To read the rest of this article, click on the link below:
Virtual Proposal Secrets