We Didn’t Know What We Didn’t Know


Posted By Kathy Kliskey | Jan 29, 2015


Didn't know what you didn't knowHave you ever had that terrible feeling? You were new at something, had to succeed, but you didn’t know where to start? In fact, you were so new, you knew you didn’t even know what you didn’t know. I have. I bet you have, too.

Terri Whiteford, Senior Manager of the Proposal Services Team at Siemens Healthcare remembers this feeling well when, 15-years-ago, the team was managing a homegrown database management tool for RFP content.

Fortunately for Terri, she knew what to do:

"We built our own RFP database management tool, but we realized we couldn’t keep up with the need to add features and functions. Our database was growing rapidly. We were adding products. The IT department wanted to sunset the database platform and was providing minimal support just to keep us going. We would have needed to continue to spend money to upgrade the homegrown system we created. Spending that money over and over again didn’t feel like the right solution or the right strategic decision.

In 2003, we set out in search of a commercial database management tool. We were aware of the fact that we didn’t know everything. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. Our strategy was to work with an expert in the field, one where we could go to user group meetings, and talk with other proposal services groups on how they were using the software, how they were maximizing the value of the database solution. Again, we didn’t know what we didn’t know because we were doing everything in-house and homegrown, but we found our solution in Qvidian.

Through Qvidian, we have found QPA (Qvidian Proposal Automation) and have participated in user group meetings like the ones at the upcoming user conference Connect 2015. We found them to be very, very valuable. To be able to talk with people who are not in our same industry makes it easier because there’s no competition. It gives us a chance to talk with them about what they do, how they get information out of their SMEs [subject matter experts], how they use the tool not just for question and answer pairs, but also to do other kinds of prepackaged proposals and proposal marketing material. These interactions help us find the real value in the database solution. That’s been very helpful and that was a strategic decision on our part.

What I tell others facing a challenge similar to what we faced at Siemens is: you need to check out Qvidian because using a RFP database tool like QPA can help your team work more efficiently. The material is already organized, you know where your content is, you can get to it really quickly, and I think it will give everybody confidence that you are using the best material available. Another reason you would want to use Qvidian is that the support is great. The team is very knowledgeable and they roll out new and useful features on a regular basis. The system will support you and it’s not going to take a lot of effort on your part to make it work for you."

The next time you are facing a new situation, take a page from Terri’s book. Make the strategic decision to seek out an expert in the field. Be sure they provide not just the tool, but opportunities to surround yourself with other users to learn insights and strategies, and have a chance to hear from the best in the business.

With Qvidian, this opportunity happens every day in our online customer community, Club Q activities, and every year at Connect. Join us!