I’m interested in the differences that the 2007 Proposal & Business Development Community surveythrows up regarding organisations’ approaches to knowledge bases of pre-written content. This is a one of our pet topics: good proposal centres have strong content libraries, with robust processes in place for keeping material up to date.
The survey doesn’t ask about quality – after all, it’s quite tough to assess the quality of your own material objectively. But it does ask about maintenance of the knowledge base.
There’s a dead heat between those groups who have a dedicated database administrator, and those whose knowledge base administrator combines that role with other tasks (37% in each camp). The remaining quarter or so of the survey share responsibilities across the group.
That masks some variation by the size of the knowledge base, as you might expect. 45% of teams with over 1,000 records have a dedicated administrator, compared to 27% of those with smaller content libraries.
Yet 56% overall believe that having a dedicated administrator for the knowledge base is critical, and less than 10% believe that such a post is not required.
Where it gets interesting, for me, is when one looks at the teams who are still in the implementation stage. Only 10% of these have a dedicated database administrator. But a staggering 52% believe it’s “absolutely critical” to have such an individual in place. I can feel the pain of their implementations from here.
That said, from our experience more and more organisations aren’t building their libraries from scratch – although doing so can be great fun, and add huge value to the proposal process. Most teams actually find themselves more in the position of needing to resurrect a dying database, refreshing the outdated content and establishing the right processes and responsibilities to ensure that it doesn’t degrade again in future.
I personally don’t like the phrase “administrator” for this role, by the way. It somehow detracts from the strategic importance of this activity. When building a new proposal centre team, the Knowledge Base Manager is one of the key positions, and one of the toughest – requiring real internally ‘organisational savvy’, as well as strong proposal content design and development skills. Mix in some graphics design ability, some technical database skills and a dose of project management, and “administrator” doesn’t begin to do the function justice.