I just completed a contract for a friend in the proposals world. Her team produces enterprise software proposals for the public sector, and she wanted a functioning knowledgebase of reusable solution and selling content.
I designed a solution for her based on the Pragmatech product suite and an enterprise taxonomy overlay. I also refined her Microsoft Word templates using advanced styling to improve their usability from the writer’s prospective, and to better integrate them into a partially-automated system.
Now her team can access a single repository of chunked proposal knowledge—from cover letters to executive summaries to RFP questions and answers—and pull that information directly into Microsoft Word in a format to match corporate standards.
This short-term assignment marks the fourth such role I’ve performed since 2005. Building, managing, and productively using corporate knowledgebases is a gratifying role—and a critical one for companies who need to optimize their content stores, produce quality deliverables, and contain costs.
Challenges I’ve experienced, and would bring to the attention of those who wish to do this kind of work (or those looking to hire someone to do it), are ensuring you have the proper skill set to bring to the work, and providing the role with the visibility and authority necessary to grow adoption.
Too often “knowledgebase administration” is the part-time function of an already overburdened proposal writer, or it is a full-time junior role occupied by someone without the skills, incentive, or power to maximize the system. In either case, the individual typically moves into another role and any positive momentum is lost.
APMP research bears this out: salary studies consistently reveal that knowledge managers earn less than proposal writers. Sales organizations shoot themselves in the foot over and over again.
I have been fortunate in my experience to work with some excellent teams and open-minded leaders who see the value in this vision for sales knowledge management.
I’m moving on now to another full-time opportunity (a coming home of sorts) where I will have the luxury of more tools and more flexibility to add value to sales teams. Five years after backing into this niche from a decade of the standard technical writer’s life, I’m increasingly optimistic.