Here is a handy 8-page guide for users to help them avail themselves of shortcuts when using Workbench "Always on the Job!" This documentation is a work aid for users who also may utilize Bluedog's paid professional services.
Regularly responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) is key to success in our business. The impression we leave with a client is based on how they perceive the proposal document. A well-thought-out, concise, and comprehensive proposal impacts the bottom line and will influence future dealings with that (potential) customer.
Our advice: stick to the basics. Decide whether or not you should bid. Then, define a “win” strategy, and share it with your team. Get your writer(s) working with subject matter experts. Share the drafts with the team to gather feedback. Finalize and submit.
Bluedog uses a modified industry standard approach, coupled with the tools to make proposal responses a success. Workbench is one tool, and you can learn more about the hard copy version of our proposal response planner here https://goo.gl/9ba2dY
For Bluedog, it’s important to us that you know what kind of data is being collecting, and why. How we use it, and most importantly — that our users and visitors in control, as you use Workbench “Always on the Job!”© and our other services.
— The management
Planning then executing a project from beginning to end is vital, and managing the right people is crucial to meeting goals. Tracking activities and effort is one aspect of modern project management; enabling team collaboration is another important component. At Bluedog, we see a project as a temporary group or solo activity with an end goal in mind, on a schedule. Projects typically have a clear beginning as well as a clear end, and the processes to complete them may differ dramatically depending on the size and scope. Task tracking is simply the measurement and documenting of activities and hours (or some other unit) worked. With the right tool, organizations can also follow other trends, such as efficiency or productivity.
Bluedog provides cybersecurity consulting and solutions such as advanced threat monitoring and protection, enemy value intelligence, security assurance compliance, and business continuity/disaster recovery consultation. Bluedog’s experts continually adapt to stay a step ahead of cyber attackers, staying up to date on the latest methods attackers are using to infiltrate computer systems.Our information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect your computer networks and systems. Their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number of cyber attacks increases. We—
- Monitor networks for security breaches and investigate a violation when one occurs
- Install and manage firewalls and data encryption appliances, to protect sensitive information
- Document security breaches and the extent of the damage caused by the breaches
- Conduct penetration testing, which is when analysts simulate attacks to look for vulnerabilities in their systems before they can be exploited
- Research the latest information technology (IT) security trends, threats, and enemies
- Help plan and carry out processes for handling security
- Develop security standards and best practices for you
- Recommend security enhancements to your management and senior IT staff
We support the building of disaster recovery plans, procedure to follow in case of emergency. These plans allow for the continued operation of your organization’s IT infrastructure, so you can restore IT functions should disaster or other outages occur.
The developers at Bluedog are hard at work continuing to solve team collaboration problems. We are beta testing a document collaboration module for Workbench that will enable invited users to co-author content, live, right in the browser. This functionality requirement sprang from the need to avoid lost effort from passing around word processing documents and trying to synchronize edits and updates. Worse, not long ago we encountered the dreaded corrupt Word document problem, losing hours of effort. Nothing is worse than staying up all night to finish an assignment only to find the file won’t open on someone else’s computer.
We are already using Workbench as an online storage locker for versions of documents in various formats. But authors using the forthcoming Workbench Collaborative Document component will never have to worry about corrupt or lost files, all the while being able to share in real time edits and new content with team members. When a document is ready for release, simply download in the format needed — .doc .docx .rtf or whatever.
Nothing worse than giving someone a file they can’t open. With the new Workbench Collaborative Document component, simply share the link to your document on the Internet. If the recipients have a web browser and permission from you, they can view (and edit, if you give them permission) the document.
By far the best feature of the new Workbench Collaborative Document component is the ability you gain to work collaboratively with others. Simply create documents to share with team members — no more worrying about the latest versions of the document or how many times it has been revised. Allowing everyone to work on the same document at the same time can increase productivity and save time. Versioning, commenting, and review/approval workflow are slated for inclusion in the upcoming release.
At Bluedog, we follow a standardized approach to the development of proposals. We start with the storyboarding of a possible response, once you have made the bid/no-bid decision. We manage the kickoff meeting with team members with respect to the baseline development. We follow a series of steps with gate reviews (color-coded to industry standards). Bluedog’s subject matter experts help with theme development and provide hands-on assistance with management reviews. Our automated tools support the process, of course.
Successful proposals show certain hallmarks, starting with the adoption of a proposal development methodology, and refining it for your needs. Success is aided by well-defined roles for the team with responsibilities laid out, guided by a compliance matrix that is regularly consulted. Communication of action plans and validation of your understanding of the government’s requirement will strengthen your value proposition. Finally, show comprehension of the agency customer environment, their “pain points,” and focus your message by avoiding boilerplate.
Check out a depiction of our process [[http://www.bluedog.net/attachments/download/126/BD%20proposal%20development%20process.png]]
Get Your Own Copy of the Bluedog Proposal Planner
Use this handy planner to lay out an approach to responding to government and other procurement opportunities. Identify the players, set a schedule, create a compliance matrix and outline of your response. You may not win with a plan, but without one, you certainly won't! At Bluedog, we seek to build a compliance matrix and outline whenever possible to formalize the bulk of the narrative. We love to use visuals to enhance and explain abstract concepts and relationships. But our experts know not to overkill a point. State it, support it, and move on to the next point. This also means with graphics, keep 'em simple and on-target.
Buy several copies now, to keep on hand
ISO 9001 identifies the minimal requirements for a quality management system (QMS), while CMMI underscores the need for continual process improvement. ISO 9001 promotes organizations to adopt a process approach, with management exercising leadership by promoting awareness of this approach as a management strategy. Plan and control the processes on which your organization relies, as a system. With CMMI, you can craft repeatable processes for software development and process improvement. Your customer relationship management (CRM) processes should also be treated as a repeatable process that you can improve.
Use Workbench to manage the capture and proposal process. Start with a more streamlined environment. Begin with a document archive that contains your best previously-written proposal content and graphics, along with other capture- and proposal-related data. Manage this as you would any other project. Assign everyone a task, or even break them up into subgroups to tackle an assignment. Assign due dates and milestones. Keep everyone updated on the status of the project. Once workflows have been established, and your organization has a baseline, follow a maintenance schedule. Track capture, proposal development, and your "win" rate.
At Bluedog, we love WebObjects, and there are a number of approaches we take to improve overall scalability -- that is, the number of concurrent users who can connect with a web browser, or via a web service API. We utilize a lot of small instances with a load balancer in front. We try to deploy as a Servlet instead of using WOtaskd (but not always). Also, a simple load balancer that respects sticky sessions works fine. Hardware load balancers tend to be more sophisticated in terms of their load balancing schemes. Generally, we don't use a content caching service like Akamai, but if you can afford it, you can use such a service to fetch once from the web app and then cache the results for a longer period of time.
Most of our web applications are "write once, read many times." Our developers try to avoid caching data that is tied to a session -- i.e. user preferences. Instead, we try to cache the data that is shared across sessions-- i.e. like a document or other shared asset. We also minimize the use of the undo stack in the Enterprise Objects Framework (EOF) configuration, and we avoid using session-based EOEditingContexts. It is a good practice to create one when needed and make sure to clean up after when done with it. Similarly, we aim to use as many stateless WOComponents as possible to minimize the app's memory footprint. If using servlets, we ask our developers to ensure sessions can be fully serialized, to take advantage of your servlet engine's clustering capabilities.
If an app must have a statefull service with fail-over capability, perhaps a database-oriented session store makes sense? It is slower than the default memory version but allows you greater flexibility in load balancing and deployment architectures. Naturally, be careful of EOF relationships. While EOF is great for transactional interactions, it can cause big performance issues if someone inadvertently fetches all records on a large table while trying to access a key path.
Finally, in keeping with our Service Oriented Architecture philosophy, we aim to divide a solution into smaller services, instead of a monolithic application. This provides better flexibility in scaling the components that are under heavy load -- and fosters re-use!
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