Creating proposals

The most common issue among the Big 4 companies

We have an unusual article this time because Daminion interviewed an ex Big4* specialist who tells us everything about the main timekiller and other insides of working in Big 4 companies. *The Big Four is the nickname used to refer collectively to the four largest professional services networks in the world, consisting of the global accounting networks Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PwC.

The four networks are often grouped together for a number of reasons; they are each comparable in size relative to the rest of the market, both in terms of revenue and workforce; they are each considered equal in their ability to provide a wide scope of professional services to their clients; and, among those looking to start a career in professional services, particularly accounting, they are considered equally attractive networks to work in, because of the frequency with which these firms engage with Fortune 500 companies. 

How to create a proposal

Interview

Unfortunately, we can’t share the protagonist’s name here, so let’s call him Nick. 

Daminion: Hi, Nick, we are happy to chat with you, and we want to start with an interesting case for our readers! Please tell us about the most annoying thing about the Big 4. 

Nick: Hi, guys. Hmm, the process of creating proposals I guess is the most annoying thing ever.

Daminion: Interesting… Please, tell us more about that.

Nick

Sometimes new directors try to solve this issue and make all managers fill in one more excel spreadsheet with the description of credentials, but, you know, staff always try to skip it. 

Nick: Sure, let me describe. 

A proposal is a selling document that we prepare for clients with all the necessary information. We can receive tasks for creating proposals in two ways: tenders from companies or requests from the director who wants to sell our services for the client and who knows specific issues and needs. 

In the first example, we have all the technical requirements and need to make the proper proposal. In the second example, all information we have from the director. We need to discuss the aims, expectations, project duration, type of report, and money in all cases. Then we start creating the proposal for the client. 

Proposals in Big 4 companies

Nick

Each manager has a folder with older proposals, credentials, and CV.

We always include the operational flow, results, financial requirements, credentials, and CV. There is always a problem with the last two points. We don’t have a regular archive with all information about our experience. 

Each manager has a folder with older proposals, credentials, and CV. Sometimes new directors try to solve this issue and make all managers fill in one more excel spreadsheet with the description of credentials, but, you know, staff always try to skip it. 

Daminion: OMG, sounds like a nightmare. Can you tell us who is responsible for creating proposals? 

Nick: It is. I hate this part of my working routine. From one side, the manager is always responsible for the final proposal, but senior associates always help to collect all the data. 

Sometimes we ask for help from central departments (design, marketer, editors), but they can’t cope with the flow of requests; therefore, we made most proposals by ourselves. 

How to make proposals

Daminion: I see. What is the essential part of the proposal that can help influence the success of the deal? 

Nick: All the tasks are specific, it depends. For one company it is necessary to have similar previous experience, for another the speed of work. 

I guess that the price has the most crucial role in the success of proposals. But we can’t forget about the quality of the proposal and just dump the price. Nowadays, the market needs high quality and low fees, which is normal. 

Nick

20% of this time I tried to find solutions

Daminion: What tools do you use?

Nick: Our tools don’t meet today’s challenges at all. We used a file folder, PowerPoint, Excel, and web browser for searching pictures. The company created the web browser according to the brand book, but it was user-unfriendly. It took a while to find something there; then, I needed to open the image in PowerPoint to change color, for example. 

Daminion: Nick, how many hours do you waste solving problems with proposals (such as finding proper documents and selecting the material)? Have you ever missed deadlines?

Nick: I suppose 40% of my working time I created proposals, and maybe 20% of this time I tried to find solutions. Yes, quite often, to be honest. Sometimes it is critical for business because tenders, for example, have strict time frames. And if a company can’t fit in the deadline, your proposal just won’t be considered. So it is always money wasting because your staff worked on a proposal during working hours, but the result of their work is nothing only because of unfriendly software.

Daminion: And what will happen if this problem wouldn’t be solved? 

Nick: I guess the company meets with two main issues: timekiller and wasting money. I think these problems can ruin any business. 

Nick

Can you imagine that: instead of fixing the issue, they were sending emails with the text highlighted in red

Daminion: Did you experience any issues because of ineffective tools? We have one client with such experience. 

 Nick: Some time ago, our company changed its license subscription from Getty Images to Shutterstock. And that created an issue of using images with expired licenses in our proposals. Because our web browser solution was poorly designed and no one enjoyed using it.

And during the transition period, responsible employees were too lazy to clean up our database on time, which created a complete mess there with pictures and photos with expired and active licenses with no option to check it. 

Can you imagine that: instead of fixing the issue, they were sending emails with the text highlighted in red: “Please don’t use “Getty Images” starting from this date.” That was a disaster! Because of that, many employees preferred copying images directly from their old proposals or proposals made by somebody else in the past.

Of course, managers eventually released many products with images we had no right to use any longer. I hope that nobody noticed that! That was a big letdown.

Daminion: How do you want to solve this problem?  

Nick: We need a solution to store all files: JPEG, PDF, PPTX, etc. And where we can easily download everything with certain #tags and see the history of changes and make all necessary changes. And I suppose we need a function with face recognition to find participants of the projects with names and surnames and with faces. 

Software for creating proposals

Nick

We definitely need a “smart” archive. 

Expired licenses for using images are quite a big problem too because the firm is enormous, and it is essential to understand what image is possible to use and what not. Therefore we definitely need a “smart” archive.  

Daminion: Thank you so much for these insides. Can you tell us any interesting case about using images in your work at the end of our interview?

Nick: Yeap, sure, I want to tell you one funny story about images and reports. I worked in the risk consulting department, and we made a report about problems in one company. My colleague chose a photo for the report’s cover, which pictured delighted people who should sort of represent the industry of our client, according to my colleague. And the client returned the report to us with a comment “Please, change the photo because the report is about big problems and we want something neutral”. 

It was even funnier because their Legal manager told us that they were concerned that the real people from that photo can sue them for using their image in the report about issues in the company if for example the report would be leaked somehow. Sounds crazy but that’s a real story! 

Daminion: Thank you so much, Nick, for your time and exciting insides as a former specialist in Big 4 companies. 

Conclusion

We face the issue of software which does not meet the requirements of business quite often. And this problem can spoil the life of the workers not only in big companies such as Big 4, but also for local businesses. Nowadays it is very important to work with modern software and applications and facilitate day-to-day tasks for staff and free up time for creativity. 

Can you count your time-wasting on boring duties which you dream to skip? 

Top software solution

We want to advise top software solution which will keep your time and money:

  1. PandaDoc – proposal and contract software is a SaaS product for sales processes. PandaDoc includes features to create, track and execute documents, as well as functionality for electronic signatures. It consists of features in the following categories: proposals, quotes, team management, content management, branding, tracking, workflow, productivity, etc. It integrates with several CRMs, as well as ERP, payment, cloud storage, and other systems.
  2. DocuSign allows organizations to manage electronic agreements. As part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, DocuSign offers eSignature, a way to sign electronically on different devices.
  3. Daminion – is one of the leading providers of Digital Asset Management software. Dаminion software helps companies organize all corporate digital assets, and you will be able to find any file in the database in seconds. It will help you create and easily share your customized offers with potential customers. Any team member can select all the necessary information from the digital library based on keywords and create a proposal or a report on the project’s current state that will talk to the client and meet his needs. Book a free trial of Daminion solution!