Shashi Kukar

What inspires you the most in your role as a Bid Manager?
Creating winning proposals is all about understanding client problems, finding their solutions and convincing them that you can (and only you) can solve it for them. Bridging the gap between client needs and organizational capabilities is like putting the pieces of the puzzle together. As the proposal content team, we act as thought partners, advisors and enablers. We help bid teams capture the attention of their clients in new and exciting ways by lending a unique, identifiable voice, and style that continually reinforces our brand’s message.

We, thus, bring art to the science of proposal management. This is what inspires me most about the role.

Did you always aspire to be a Bid Manager and Why? or Did you accidentally landed in this profession and How?
Not really. Like most of us, this was a sheer accident.

Some 8 years back, while I was leading the Content Marketing team, the Bid team leader requested my support on a content project. It was during one of those interactions, the bid team leader asked me if I would like to join the team as Content Lead. I had never heard of this team. Neither did I understand the nature of work nor the role of content. I declined the offer. However, the leader remained persistent. After about 6 months, he again asked me the same question. He emphasized that he was looking to transform the bid management organization. As content would be critical component of it, he wanted a strong content person to steer this change.

By now, I also had a good understanding of the challenges he was trying to solve for. I realized this was a good opportunity to take on a challenge and create a lasting impact. That’s how my journey into this space began. It’s been an exhilarating journey with loads of learnings!

What tactics and strategies did you leverage in your role that ultimately led you to win this award?Content, a key lever in the proposal management process, was identified as a weak link in our proposal process. We started our transformation journey in 2018 with the objective of providing faster & easy access to client-focused deal content. The first step was to create a cohesive content strategy covering end-to-end requirements of the deal. For defined outcomes, we focussed on the elements of Process, People  & Technology.

We redesigned the content organization to align with sales priorities. This was a differentiated model tailorable by large strategic deals vs. small to mid-size deals. For small & mid-size deals, we used a factory model focussed on reusable, modular, scalable content. It relied on ready boilerplates/catalogues of repeatable responses. For strategic deals, we took the custom approach focussed on innovation.

To enable scale, reduce NVAs (non-value added) and cost effectiveness, we devised a multi-pronged technology strategy. We leveraged existing technology like SharePoint, MS Azure for simple solutions while investing on new tools, Chatbot, followed by a Proposal Automation Tool.

These strategic decisions obviously required an overhaul on existing capability along with a robust change management strategy to drive change & train the team on new ways of working.

What advice would you want to give to the next-generation professionals or your peers?
Bid management is a specialized field and requires niche skills. It isn’t about the role you play – project management, content management, solution specialist or sales. It is teamwork all the way. Only when all pieces come together in complete harmony, will we have a winning proposal.

Please give us one tip for creating a Winning Proposal.
To develop the “gold standard” in proposal management that is universally respected requires us to cast a memorable presence and bring enduring value to your clients. While there are strategies and guidelines aplenty, never forget there are people on the other side too. Throughout the process, focus on building a trusting and long-lasting relationship with the client.  Every interaction is an opportunity to understand them, their challenges, what they aspire to, and what support they need. Equipped with this mindset, you are sure to win. You may not win all deals, but you will win partners!

What is something you wish others understood about the importance of Bid Management in today’s market?
Frequently changing industry trends, competitor changes, multiple stakeholders, stringent timelines, and a dozen moving parts make bidding a complex exercise. The ability to respond quickly and accurately can give you the added edge. To consistently create winning proposals that are compliant and responsive, there is need for a structured approach and seamless execution. Besides bringing together core stakeholders, a strong bid management process helps manage them effectively and efficiently through every stage of the bid lifecycle. With a stringent governance rigor, it ensures that all associated risks are managed well. A strong bid management process thus helps maximize both individual and team performance. 

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