Ways to Optimize Your File Management Strategy

Responding to RFPs poses a very real challenge in managing project files.  On any given RFP, team members manage and share numerous files of different types, like Excel, Word, Visio, PDF, etc.  There is a multitude of benefits for good file management but mainly you get a much more efficient RFP process.  Reduce your frustrations by keeping these “best practices” in mind when considering improvements to your file management and RFP response processes.

Benefits of Good File Management

  • Less time wasted finding the right information 
  • Consistency across the team  
  • Reduce duplications of files, data and tasks 
  • Provides a broad view of the content available 
  • Easier to manage old content/data 
  • Easier to back-up the data 
  • A lot less frustrating 

Store Project Files in a Shared Location  

Because RFP responses generally are collaborative and involve several team members, it’s important to set up the folder structure in a shared location that can be accessed by multiple people, rather than on an individual’s hard drive. These days, there are numerous ways to do that.  We recommend Microsoft SharePoint On-Line.  

Create an Organized Folder Structure

The folder structure for RFP related files should be logical and easy to navigate. We suggest CUSTOMER NAME at the top level, and PROJECT NAME, PROJECT ID or OPPORTUNITY ID at the next level. The Customer Name should be the “short” version of the customer’s name (“Acme” instead of “Acme Corporation”).  It’s also import to have a way to ensure consistency in how customer names are listed  and you should have some means for ensuring this consistency.  You don’t want to have multiple folders with different variations of the customer name.    

Use File Naming Conventions

As with the folder naming structure, we recommend inserting the “short” version of the CUSTOMER NAME as part of the file name, followed by PROJECT NAME, PROJECT ID or OPPORTUNITY ID , then SITE NAME (if applicable), then FILE TYPE (“RFP Response”, “Original RFP”, “Proposal”, etc.) and finally VERSION NUMBER. A sample file name might be Acme-ID1465-Boston-Quote-V1.xlsx.

Back Up Your RFP Files

If your folder structure is created in a shared location, most likely that location is being backed up on a daily basis, if not more frequently. If users are saving RFP files to their local hard drive (not recommended) then it’s imperative that they use a software that backs up RFP files to another location.  Backing up sounds like common sense, but a lot of organizations miss this step.

Document Sharing

When looking to improve your RFP process and file management consider the importance of co-authoring.  Only being able to have one person work on a document at a time can dramatically affect the RFP response process.  Sharing files back and forth can slow down the process and can also create confusion and duplication.  Are you sure you’re updating the right version of the document?  Finding a co-authoring solution will take your process to the next level.

Enforce the Process or Use Automation

Good file management only works if the rules of the game are enforced – make sure files are being saved in a shared location instead of on individual PCs, don’t duplicate customer names, use naming conventions, etc.  This can be easier said than done.  The best way to enforce the process and get clean, navigable data is to automate the process.

A Better Way - Using RFP Response Builder

RFP Response Builder handles file management using our cloud-based Dashboard.  Additionally, all files are Auto-Named and Auto-Saved, taking the guess work out of how to list customer names, ensure the correct folder structure, and name your files consistently.  The Dashboard not only provides an interface to the shared location where files are stored but it provides data across multiple fields that can be used for Opportunity Management, Forecasting, reporting, etc.   
Keeping all the files related to an RFP organized and easy to find is an import part of an efficient process.

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