Content optimisation via smart templates: Letting machines do the ordinary so RFP writers could focus on the extraordinary
Published on August 9, 2022 by Shayan Kar
Many of us working in the asset and wealth management space have heard of how RFP teams have been overwhelmed by rising volumes and complexity in recent years. Navigating through these trends, the evolving regulatory landscape and expectations of higher through/retention rates has meant that RFP leaders globally have had to redirect their focus from strategic areas to tactical ones. This shift has left many money managers with limited resources to focus on other strategic areas of RFP operations including knowledge management, a key component of the RFP ecosystem that enables writers to craft compelling proposals.
Putting the focus back on “content”
In our pursuit to come up with a game plan that puts the focus back on “content” and its optimal use, we decided on a path very few in the RFP community have taken so far. We focused primarily on optimal use of existing content and metadata within the RFP knowledge base. While doing so, we deliberated with some of our trillion-dollar asset management RFP clients on how existing content could be best leveraged or optimised.
Smart templates — a key discovery
A key discovery from our internal studies and client conversations — smart templates — led to us leveraging auto-fill features, available on leading online RFP platforms, to create hard-coded semi-automated templates.
Beyond creating efficiencies, these templates include detailed and bespoke “notes and instructions to writers” on how best to craft a response. Catalogued at a centralised location within the online RFP platform, these templates can be accessed easily, anywhere and at any time. With simple and easy-to-follow steps, specialists could then use these online templates to create first responses to recurring questions, in record time.
Building smart templates
The process of building smart templates typically starts with RFP writers reviewing all recurring RFPs/DDQs and identifying templates eligible for converting into smart templates. Once these are identified, all questions answered using content from the knowledge base are hard-coded. Descriptive “notes to writers” are added to the template to ensure consistency. Once the templates are standardised and formatted, they would undergo a final quality check and be catalogued within the RFP library.
With simple and easy-to-follow steps, specialists could use smart templates to create first answers to recurring questions.
Smart templates: a strategic investment to generate recurring efficiency gains
A key objective of building smart templates and auto-populating answers to recurring questions is to help investment managers handle rising volumes and complexity — smartly and efficiently. In the long run, a multiplier effect of efficiencies is created, helping managers focus on other strategic areas of their RFP/DDQ operations.
The following are other benefits of this strategic investment:
- Consistent messaging: With smart templates, investment managers do not have to reinvent the wheel while working on recurring questions. These templates also ensure companies provide responses that are consistent and in line with previous submissions.
- Enhanced accuracy and customisation: With all generic and stock responses auto-populated from the knowledge base, smart templates help reduce fat-finger or avoidable errors. Reviewers could then focus on the overall flow of the responses and customise them as needed.
- Optimal use of RFP platforms: Building smart templates uses some of the not-so-frequently used functionalities on RFP platforms and enables investment managers enhance their return on investment
What does success look like for asset and wealth management firms?
We have partnered with global asset and wealth management clients to execute content optimisation initiatives in recent years and noticed recurring efficiency gains of 15–20% annually.
The following chart illustrates a recent client success story, where we partnered with a US-based trillion-dollar asset manager and executed a six-month focused content optimisation initiative to create smart templates for all eligible recurring due diligence questions. While we have already noticed benefits, this initiative, when fully implemented, would create efficiency gains of two full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees annually.
How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help
We have been providing end-to-end RFP and DDQ services to both global and boutique asset management firms for more than a decade. As part of our smart content-management offerings that generate recurring efficiency gains, we help our clients optimise RFP content across digital platforms, including Qvidian, RocketDocs (PMAPS), RFPIO, Loopio, DOOR and DiligenceVault.
About the Author
Shayan Kar is a Delivery Manager within the Fund Marketing Services line of business at Acuity Knowledge Partners (Acuity). In this role, he is responsible for ensuring timely execution and seamless delivery of key client deliverables including due diligence questionnaires for the sales and marketing teams of leading global asset management firms. He is also involved in various automation and process improvement initiatives across the Fund Marketing Services line of business.
Shayan has over seven years of experience in supporting marketing and operations teams in the asset management domain and company valuations. Prior to Acuity, he worked at S.G. Analytics, where he was primarily responsible for tasks such as financial modelling and valuation, peer company analysis, performance reports and daily newsletters. Shayan holds a Bachelor of Computer Application and a Master of Business Administration from Savitribai Phule Pune University, India.