Richard Avelar & Associates (RA&A) provides forensic architectural, construction and reconstruction management services on residential, commercial and industrial projects. Operating in a fast-paced, high stakes field, the firm serves a variety of clients including law firms, construction companies, insurers, business owners and homeowners.
RA&A rarely has challenges finding new business, according to Ken Kosloff, Principal. “The challenge is for us to keep track of contacts and opportunities with all ten partners generating leads and responding to RFI’s” says Kosloff, who also oversees the firm’s marketing efforts. That realization led Kosloff and his partners to begin looking for better insights into their clients, evaluate how opportunities for new engagements were coming in the door, as well as finding a way to improve the firm’s process for responding to new opportunities.
Coincidentally, during roughly the same time period, the firm had begun to implement Deltek Vision ERP — primarily for its accounting capabilities. But as they began working with Full Sail Partners on the implementation, they became interested in some of the additional features the product offered — including its capabilities in Customer Relation Management (CRM) and proposal management.
Taming the proposal process
For some time, there had been no central process or standard procedures at RA&A for preparing proposals. In fact, there was a wide variation in proposal development teams, content, presentation and formatting. What’s more, many of the steps of assembling the proposal, including securing signoffs of key managers and partners, were essentially manual and time-consuming.
An even more significant problem was the issue of spotting conflicts of interest on potential engagements. Each case RA&A takes on involves at least the plaintiff and defendant, but sometimes also as many as a dozen or more subcontractors. And prior to pursuing an engagement, it’s vital for RA&A to determine whether they had ever been hired to work on behalf of any of the parties involved. However, lacking a central repository of the thousands of clients and subcontractors the firm had supported over the years, RA&A had no quick way of confirming that a project was even doable.
Full Sail Partners began by assessing and mapping the firm’s existing proposal processes to determine where the inconsistencies and inefficiencies occurred. Then, using Deltek Vision as a centralized collaboration platform, Full Sail Partners developed a new paperless solution. The new system automates many steps of the process, from logging new proposal opportunities and checking them against databases of previous clients and their subcontractors, to managing the development of proposal content. In addition, it features a paperless, user-friendly approval/signoff system that allows senior staff to indicate their approvals electronically.
“It’s been a great solution for our firm,” notes RA&A’s Assistant Accounting Manager Jasmin Cruz, who serves as the interface between the firm’s accounting function and Full Sail Partners. “Each step in the process has gone smoothly, and as we’re reading through the proposals, we’re not seeing any problems.”
With the implementation of the new system, RA&A is able to respond more quickly, and with greater confidence, to clients’ RFPs. Not only has the time needed to produce each proposal shortened, but the firm also has a much easier and faster method for screening out proposals with conflicts of interest — which means they can respond more quickly to clients’ needs. This is a significant competitive advantage in an extremely time-sensitive field.
Another benefit is that the new system allows central management of the firm’s proposals after they’ve been submitted. For the first time ever, RA&A has a continuously updated, centralized view of all its proposals that are out for consideration and their current status. This new visibility makes it easier to follow up in cases where a proposal wasn’t successful to learn the reasons why, thus helping to improve future proposals.
The new system even has an impact on the firm’s brand, says Kosloff. “We work in a highly sophisticated field, and our clients want to do business with firms who are on the leading edge of technology. Full Sail Partners also assisted with formatting and my sense is that standardizing our proposal formatting is making us look more professional and consistent, and underscores our position as a trusted advisor to our clients.”
In addition, Kosloff notes that the new process is benefitting partners and staff throughout the firm. “We have one of the hardest working staffs in our industry, and they’re under constant pressure.” Kosloff observes. “This system has helped us make more effective use of our time, have less wasted effort, and win new business more quickly and easily. So in a way, implementing this new process is a gift to ourselves. We’ve been so busy working in our business, it’s been hard to find the time to work on it.” Kosloff added, “As all employees begin to utilize the new proposal automation, we project the proposal process time will be cut in half. With more than 1000 proposals a year, the time savings equates to more than 750 hours or almost 5 months per year.”
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