Ellucian (formerly Datatel) Gives High Grades to Qvidian Solutions and Support

“We’ve eliminated human errors associated with file naming conventions, streamlined workflows, cut research time by more than 50 percent, and virtually eliminated formatting time.”

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Current Status

The proposal team at Ellucian (formerly Datatel), a leading provider of software and services to colleges and universities, is a dedicated group of five people. The team is charged with facilitating the RFP response process, as well as the creation of personalized sales documents and proposals that are not driven by RFPs. But with RFPs that include an average of 600 questions, and sometimes as many as 7,000, the group had little time to focus on anything but responding to these documents. Just researching answers for a single RFP could take two staff members, two weeks. Then, formatting results would take another two days. To streamline this process, eliminate human errors and enable the high degree of personalization that would make proposals more compelling, Ellucian implemented Qvidian Proposal Automation. Since doing so, research time for responding to RFPs has been cut in half, and formatting time slashed to less than one hour. These time savings are now empowering the proposal team to also implement and leverage Qvidian Proposal Automation to create and manage the dynamic proposals and documents that will further drive sales.

Original Challenge

Before implementing Qvidian Proposal Automation, Ellucian relied on a repository of numerous Word files that contained answers to questions in previous RFPs. But without an effective searching mechanism of these files, finding the right answers to hundreds or even thousands of specific questions was extremely time-consuming. "I had to search on a file name or a keyword across all Word files stored on a shared network drive, when someone asked me a question," explains Pam DiLucente, Ellucian's Proposal Coordinator. "This process was very slow and I could, quite literally, start a search and then take a coffee break while waiting for the search to conclude. Then, when I came back, I might find hundreds of files that all had to be manually searched for the right information." More time was then spent reformatting content that had been blocked and copied from multiple Word documents. "Even though all content was stored in Word, formatting was not always consistent, so to get the appearance we required in an RFP response took another 16 hours, on average," DiLucente says. Another challenge Ellucian faced was their file naming conventions. These were required to ensure that file names were modified as new information was added, or as content was edited, or when files were ready to be formatted. "But with back and forth reviews, and files continually being moved from one folder to another, the process was prone to human errors," DiLucente explains.

Solution

To resolve all of these issues, Ellucian initially considered implementing a generalized document management solution. But then they discovered Qvidian. "It didn't take long to realize that Qvidian was as customer focused as we are," DiLucente states, "but their competition was not. Only Qvidian provided actual customer references for us to speak with, completed several onsite demos, and offered the consultative support we needed. In fact, with Qvidian we recognized that what they were selling was not just a software solution, but an entire proposal culture." Since rolling out Proposal Automation to their proposal team, Ellucian has slashed the time it takes to research answers to RFP questions, and to format these answers into a draft proposal format. "We've eliminated human errors associated with file naming conventions, streamlined workflows, cut research time, and virtually eliminated formatting time," DiLucente says. "Even more impressive is the fact that we recently received feedback from a prospect that indicated our proposal was the primary reason they chose Ellucian as a finalist. They complimented us on our presentation, appreciating that they could easily find the information they needed and that the proposal expressly addressed their strategic initiatives as a university." "Also," she continues, "because of Qvidian's webinars and our consultations with them, we have improved our RFP responses, making them more personalized in ways that ensure they will get noticed. In fact, we are now getting feedback from prospects indicating that they appreciate our use of best of breed proposal practices."

The Future with Qvidian

DiLucente says that although the benefits of Proposal Automation are already significant, she expects even more savings when Ellucian starts to leverage the solution's ability to more fully automate RFP response creation--and when the next version of the solution, with its more efficient user interface, is implemented. She also looks forward to achieving significant time savings and performance benefits in the near future when Ellucian rolls out Qvidian's Proposal Automation. "Now that we're saving so much time on preparing RFP responses, we have time to address other strategic initiatives, says DiLucente. "Primary on this list is the use of Qvidian Proposal Automation to create and manage proactive proposals and other highly personalized sales documents. Our ultimate goal with Qvidian is to create, manage, and leverage our content across all areas of the company that can benefit from personalized documents."

About Ellucian

Ellucian helps education institutions thrive in an open and dynamic world. We deliver a broad portfolio of technology solutions, developed in collaboration with a global education community, and provide strategic guidance to help education institutions of all kinds navigate change, achieve greater transparency, and drive efficiencies. More than 2,400 institutions in 40 countries around the world look to Ellucian for the ideas and insights that will move education forward, helping people everywhere discover their futures through learning. For more information, visit www.ellucian.com.

Ellucian Gives High Grades to Qvidian Solutions and Support