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What's the Big Deal About NOT Having a Centralized Proposal File Management System?

What's the Big Deal About NOT Having a Centralized Proposal File Management System?

You're a VP and Engineering Project Manager at a small AEC firm. You don't have a marketing professional on staff, but you do have a great office-wide administrative assistant that helps with proposals when they come out.

(Well, he helps by printing the Word docs you send him. You keep pretty tight reigns on all your department's proposals!)

You, as VP and PM, actually keep your own drafts of past proposals in a folder on your personal Dropbox account. I mean, you can access the files so quickly and easily! You know which previous writeups to re-use, based on the type of proposal. Plus, your firm's VPN is such a pain.

You've tried to give the work over to the assistant, but he just asks you so many questions every time. It's faster and easier to just do it yourself.


You end up at home sick with COVID for 3 weeks. 3 major proposals hit, and you've got no energy to work on them. Your staff are trying to work around you so you can get better, so they're having the assistant dig through his emails of old proposal docs you've sent him. No one else has records of your resumes or project writeups.

Problem #1: Not everyone has easy access to previous files, so they have to spend additional time re-creating the most recent resumes / project writeups.

You realize you've goofed. Everything is smooth in your proposal process unless you aren't there to run it. You also finally confess to yourself you wish you had someone else who could query this info and put together your proposals...

The Story Continues...

When you get back to the office, you get to look at the final draft of all 3 proposals before they go out the door over the next 2 days. 

Oh, no! You never told anyone that when you add Miles Morales's resume to a proposal, you have to ask him (EVERY TIME) to add his most recent projects and his project role, as he works on 3 new ones per week! There's always crucial data to present in those new projects. (There's no other centralized location for this data...good thing you keep up with this in your proposals!)

You scamper down the hall to get the new info, then go talk with MJ (VP of the other department) who has been leading the charge on the 3 proposals while you were gone. 

Problem #2: Version Control. How can others confirm they're working with the latest data?

You: "Hey, MJ, we need to up-rev Miles's resume. You did a good job pulling up a recent, similar proposal to pull the resumes from, even though you didn't find the latest version for this new client. But I always talk to Miles before I put out any proposal because of his fast project delivery. It's crucial to show his project volume and success with accelerated schedules."

MJ: "Oh, uh....there was no way for any of us to know this. Why doesn't he publish an up-to-date resume every 2-3 weeks?"

You: "He knows I always come ask him, and that I reduce his workload by keeping the info for him."

MJ: " sure didn't reduce anyone else's workload while you were out sick since we're now having to redo resumes because the latest info wasn't available to all of us."

You: (Silence. You walk back to your office slowly and pensively.)

Hmm. The more you've tried to simplify by handling everything myself, the more problems arise for everyone else.

Problem #3: The less everyone is involved in the file and version updates, the less personal ownership everyone takes.

You realize you should start fixing this problem by doing MJ's suggestion: have Miles submit an updated resume and project list every 2 weeks to a centralized location. It's the least you can do for the issues that have been caused by your absence and inability to run your standard personal proposal process. 

Wondering what else you can do, you realize it's time to look for resources to learn how to run a better proposal process...

Need help solving these problems?

If you can relate with this fake story, you're not alone. But that doesn't make it okay. It means it's time to update the way you manage proposal files.

Katy Ruzicka, DOTomation's Senior Marketing Coordinator and Project Manager, teaches our latest class, "Efficiency 101: Proposal Management For Small AEC Firms and Technical Professionals". The class includes two separate 1hr classes:

  • File Management: High-Efficiency Basics
  • Tips/Tricks for Firms Without Marketing Professionals

Katy's a requested expert in the industry, known for her highly-efficient processes and  restructured file management systems for both small and medium-sized AEC firms.


Click the image below that applies best to you (individual versus firm (3 to 10 employees) training) to learn more about this "how-to" class. Sign up today to learn tips and tricks to help you and your staff improve immediately.


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