Remote Revolution: Cut Proposal Costs by 21% and Keep Winning

Hands up who thought COVID-19 would be behind us before we saw the 2022 New Year… How can we all reflect on the pandemic experience to date and capitalise on the lessons learned regarding capture and proposal work under flexible work arrangements?

The irony is not lost on me that I type this article while in a week’s quarantine in a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia!

Rather than rattle away about a bunch of Salentis International achievements during 2021, of which there were many, I thought we should investigate the prevailing ‘new normal’ since everyone recognised that COVID-19 was going to impact our lives 2 years ago.

Plenty of material exists out there, of substantial depth and quality, about various societal and business impacts. But what I will dwell on is: What did all this mean for capture and proposal development during 2021?… and beyond??

Ability to Operate Work From Home/Hybrid Effectively

A sign saying that you can still win proposals when the team works from home (as opposed to having to be in an office with the team).

Interestingly, a ‘work from home’ (WFH) scenario versus onsite work is not new to Salentis International, nor to many other bid experts in our industry. We have been operating in a mix of sometimes all onsite, sometimes totally WFH, and sometimes a ‘hybrid’ model of both since our inception more than 15 years ago. What WFH has taught our clients in the last 2 years is that it is possible to develop a winning proposal in a WFH environment!

Results of Further Investigation

“So what?” you ask.

Well, we did a little digging and number-crunching in the back half of January for the 5 years, January 2017 – December 2021, to tally up a few more statistics on different models, but also scratched the surface with regard to the impact of WFH and hybrid models versus working totally (or near totally) on-site. Here’s what we found:

Hybrid projects delivered an average of 9% savings on total invoiced costs to clients versus 100% (or near) onsite work.

Hybrid projects save 9% on the cost of a project vs 21% savings when teams mostly work from home.

If we add WFH projects to the mix, we see an average of 21% savings on total invoiced cost to clients versus 100% (or near) onsite work.

The first or second instance of WFH/hybrid projects, some, but not all, clients were often a little nervous – in a few circumstances, rather nervous – about not having everyone onsite for the whole time. “Isn’t that how we have always done it? Why fix it if it ain’t broke? My people just won’t engage if we’re not all onsite together.” This is particularly evident around the proposal kick-off period.

In most cases, client personnel become comfortable within a couple of weeks once Salentis International demonstrates that effective WFH/hybrid work arrangements are possible.

There is no denying that some tangible, yet incalculable, benefit is provided by being onsite. Does it provide 9 to 21% improvement in the compliance and compelling nature of the bid? Are there certain bids where it’s worth it (must-wins), and others where you’d be better off saving that extra expenditure?

Most employees and associates of Salentis International – not to mention our clients’ employees! – prefer to not work 100% onsite, particularly for longer projects away from home, such as the 3-to-6-month-long Defence proposals that are common in Australia.

Most client and Salentis International personnel value at least some face-to-face (i.e., onsite) time to, among other things:

  • Put names to faces
  • Establish IT and collaboration systems
  • Test and adjust solution information for completeness and accuracy
  • Undertake strategy sessions (including Blue Team and Black Hat)
  • Run an in-depth kick-off followed by solution data collection

Results of WFH and hybrid models can be greatly improved if:

  • The client team is properly prepared well before kick-off in terms of solutions
  • The proposal team is engaged early
  • The team receives some high-quality lead-in training in proposal development prior to kick-off


The results of the above investigation suggest the following recommendations regarding WFH/hybrid versus onsite work arrangements:

  1. While being onsite provides some benefits, we advise for mid to longer duration projects (30 days or more), a hybrid model of some onsite and mostly WFH arrangements throughout proposal development.
  2. For much shorter duration projects (<30 days), strong consideration should be given to a fully (or near fully) onsite arrangement, unless the client and proposal development team have a deep relationship and solutions are mature and well understood. Bid & Proposal budgets may be a determining factor here.
  3. Always working 100% onsite leads to lower employee/associate motivation, increased bid team friction, increased cost (9-21%), and risk of staff turnover (who wants to spend months at a time away from their home/family?).

In every other part of the service delivery world, pandemic-forced changes have presented businesses/organisations with opportunities to change the way they work and actually improve their own ability to deliver services to their clients efficiently. We are very happy to be a part of that positive change.

Article published: February 2022

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