10 Must-Know Proposal Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools of 2020

Proposal automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are hot topics in the proposal field right now, particularly as we have transitioned to a largely remote workforce during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Some professionals have angst about the potential negative effects of these tools on the industry; however, many of us are more optimistic about the ways these tools can improve our work-life balance.

As demonstrated by the number of Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) Bid and Proposal Con 2019 vendors, many companies are already leveraging proposal automation tools and AI to streamline and enhance the proposal development and management processes. For example, some of these tools are beginning to enhance the response process by pre-populating outlines with “smart” content, some provide basic language and tone analysis, and others support the proposal management process with streamlined document management and control features. In this week’s article, I provide an overview of 10 of the common tools available and the ways I am hopeful that these tools will improve our industry.

Zbizlink. Zbizlink is a cloud-based proposal management software requiring little or no customization to support streamlined proposal development. Key features include opportunity assessment, candidate and partner matching, Request for Proposal (RFP) shredding, global autofill, customized proposal builder, resume builder, and built-in communication tools. Zbizlink enables teams to efficiently and effectively manage proposals in one centralized workspace.

Patri Bid Score. Bid Score™ is a Software as a Solution (SaaS) that streamlines the bid/no-bid decision process. Companies frequently waste time and money on low win probability opportunities. Bid Score™ helps companies assess the probability of winning opportunities while quantifying the money and time savings achieved by passing on low-probability opportunities. Companies using Bid Score™ to date have realized a return on investment (ROI) of 20 times per year by passing on low win probability opportunities.

Loopio. Loopio is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that streamlines the process of responding to RFPs, Requests for Information (RFIs), Due Diligence Questionnaires (DDQs), and Security Questionnaires. Loopio delivers intelligent content management and automation. Since 2014, Loopio has empowered hundreds of proposal teams across leading companies, including IBM, Trustwave, Sprinklr, and PowerSchool.

VisibleThread. VisibleThread offers language analytics and AI solutions that are used by 7 of the top 10 U.S. Government contractors and several leading Fortune 1000 companies. Proposal teams leverage VisibleThread to increase efficiency, quality check proposals, and drive more compliant content. Some of the most useful features of VisibleThread include: compliance gap analysis, readability and single tone of voice analysis, theme discovery and analysis, and concept tracking.

reDock. reDock uses AI and machine learning to automate content and data search tasks. The tool enables users to find quickly and easily the most suitable information across all company data repositories and software systems. This search engine filters through existing documents to find profiles, corporate references, past answers, and/or relevant approaches and presents the right section of information, rather than the entire document. This eliminates the time-consuming effort of sifting through hundreds of pages of proposal text for the right content.

RFPIO. RFPIO is a cloud-based, response management platform that helps companies streamline their business proposal efforts, submit high-quality responses, and create impactful revenue streams. With a patented import process and an AI-enabled recommendation engine, the solution goes beyond simple collaboration and automation and enables organizations to intelligently respond to complex requirements, including RFPs, RFIs, and Security Questionnaires, while making use of the best content and past performance data.

DraftSpark™. DraftSpark™ leverages AI to help teams find and use existing proposal content quickly and easily. With its easy to use and intuitive user interface, DraftSpark provides a unified, end-to-end experience for managing the response process, enabling teams to move seamlessly from RFP, to proposal creation, through to submission. Key features include: RFP shredding, automatic proposed responses driven by AI and machine learning (with multiple options to choose from, if applicable), built-in Subject Matter Expert (SME) assignments, and status and outcome tracking to support continuous performance improve improvement.

Privia. Privia is a secure, web-based software application, available in the Cloud or on-premise, that supports the capture and proposal management process. Privia combines file agnostic content management with an integrated suite of configurable capture and proposal management specific tools, real-time collaboration, automated workflow, and in-depth reporting. Privia saves time and money while helping teams improve proposal quality.

Virtual Proposal Center (VPC). VPC is a collaborative, browser-based application that provides geographically dispersed proposal teams with a common workspace that provides access to the tools and information needed for successful proposal development. VPC is easy to use, secure, and flexible. Key features include: intuitive document, workflow and configuration management, and a powerful search tool.

Upland Qvidian. Upland Qvidian is a cloud-based RFP and sales proposal automation solution that is used by more than 1,000 companies worldwide. Qvidian offers a robust enterprise-level proposal automation solution, offering security, compliance, and simplicity. Key features include: content library, autofill capabilities, assignment workflows, RFP package builder, dedicated SME workspace, robust analytics, and drag and drop functionality. Qvidian also includes built-in application programming interface (API) integrations with Microsoft Office and Office 365, SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics, single sign-on, pricing systems, and other leading software solutions.

What is the Future for Automation and AI in Proposals?
Although automation and AI tools have already started to impact existing proposal processes, we have only begun to scratch the surface of their true potential in the field. Because of their unemotional capabilities to make predictions, these tools have huge potential in supporting bid/no-bid decision so companies can more effectively target the opportunities with the highest probabilities of win. In addition, with their capability to quickly analyze massive amounts of data to make predictions and decisions, these technologies can likely help improve price analysis, price-to-win, and price development processes. Further, these tools seem to have huge potential to support the selection of proposed products and solutions.

Will automation tools and AI eventually replace all of us and independently write the proposals for our companies? I think most of us agree that this will never happen in our lifetimes. However, I do believe that enhanced versions of these AI and proposal automation tools of will ultimately empower our proposal teams. But to be more effective, these tools must become a seamless part of our established processes—they must be flexible and integrate with our existing tools and workflows while providing critical functionality that teams have become used to leveraging, including version control. And I think we are getting there. Leveraging these tools effectively in the future, I believe we will increase the efficiency of our business development and proposal process by automating some of the most time-consuming pieces of the process and helping us to make smarter, more-strategic decisions on the opportunities we pursue.

Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)


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