Where Is That Darn Thing? Finding It All Quickly In A “Reuse” LibraryOctober 25th, 2010
If you’ve spent the time, money and effort to develop a knock-out bit of content or a graphic for a proposal, you are going to want to use it again. If you produce a lot of proposals and presentations, there will likely be many items you’ll want to reuse repeatedly.
The trick is organizing all of them in a way that leads to effective and efficient reuse. After all, they won’t do much good isolated on someone’s hard drive or buried in a bloated shared drive folder. And if they’re hard or impossible to find, the cost to you will take the form of frustration, redevelopment, and even lost business.
While many of our clients think of us as writers, graphics gurus or positioning strategists, some of the highest-value work we do revolves around creating effective and sustainable proposal management capabilities. After all, one of our ‘value adds’ is that once we develop something for a client, it is theirs to use. This particular value add isn’t worth much if they can’t find what we’ve created.
One of the first things we implement for a new client is a system for archiving submitted proposals and presentations. We’ll create a naming convention, a tracking tool and a storage system so that completed deliverables are conveniently organized and easy to locate. For some of our clients, we include within this system applicable request documentation and correspondence related to each opportunity so that it becomes an “of record” system that may even be an input to the contracts function.
More to it than archiving old proposals
By properly storing and organizing submitted deliverables, we’ve made it easier to find them, but we haven’t made it any easier to find important components within these files. This is where a ‘reuse library’ comes into play.
A reuse library is a system for organizing and storing previously-developed proposal components outside of actual proposals for fast and easy retrieval in the future. As new ‘best-in-class’ materials are developed, they are placed in the library. Common reuse library ingredients include:
- Proposal and presentation templates
- Important company facts and figures
- Value proposition and positioning - Graphics and text used to describe your value proposition, market position and differentiators
- Approaches or methodologies used to address business requirements
- People - Biographies or resumes of key personnel
- Content used to address specific issues or as responses to customer questions in various flavors
- Graphics - Org charts, timelines, processes, maps
- Experience - Case studies, references, metrics
- Certificates - Licenses, memberships, certifications
- Marketing collateral
- Sample deliverables
- White papers & market research documentation
The important thing is that these items are categorized, labeled and stored separately to make finding them and using them again a snap.
Maintenance as important as setup
An out-of-date reuse library is perhaps a greater liability than not having one at all, so it is critical that the library be maintained in real time, in a consolidated, centralized location. As new items are created or older ones are revised or improved upon, the new best-in-class materials should be added to the library, replacing obsolete items as appropriate. You can even add a notification function to the system, announcing to all stakeholders any significant changes to the system – new categories, folders or items.
The system should be accessible to anyone who plays a role in producing customer-facing sales and marketing deliverables. And while we’re not against egalitarianism or flat organization structures, we feel strongly that updating privileges should be limited to a centralized proposal management function. Again, whether you house this function internally or outsource it to us, the organization and contents of the tool must remain consistent with its purpose: a repository for truly best-in-class materials that are correct, compelling and easy to find. Extending maintenance of the tool to a wider audience has the potential to compromise this objective.
A variety of tool possibilities
The tool you select for storage can take several different forms. We’ve helped clients implement and maintain MS SharePoint with considerable success, and we’ve also organized a system of simple folders on a shared drive to great effect. The former provides greater categorization and filtering functionality through its tagging capabilities, while the latter is faster, cheaper and simpler to implement. There are, of course, many other document management systems suitable for this purpose, built either on traditional servers or in ’cloud’ environments. Like any tool, however, the quality of the result ultimately boils down to how it is used and how well it is maintained.
Whatever tool you choose, it is important that it not reside on a single user’s computer; this is not the kind of repository you want leaving the building after hours (or permanently in the event of an employee separation). By building this system on a company server, it becomes important institutionalized knowledge extending across time, business units and geographies.
Want to learn more about how to produce your proposals and presentations faster, cheaper and easier by leveraging existing materials? Contact Kinetic today to find out how to implement or optimize your own reuse library.
About Kinetic Group, LLC
Kinetic Group provides business communication services including brand/identity creation, website and marketing collateral design and content development, video production, and outsourced proposal/presentation writing. The Kinetic team brings decades of expertise developing the branding, positioning and communication tools that help clients establish unique identities, grow awareness and win business. The company serves companies around the world and across a wide range of industries with a distinct orientation toward practical, compelling output designed to achieve specific results in an efficient, client-centric fashion. Kinetic can be reached at (323) 465-5296 or email@example.com.