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Life, the Universe and Business

Introducing Bidsketch

Nick Felton - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Before

I’ve been in business for nearly 20 years doing customised apps in MS Word, Excel, Access, and now CRM systems, websites, with diverse clients such as government, large and small enterprise both whole of organisation and internal departmental applications, freelancers, and SMEs.

During this time, I’ve prepared countless proposals and quotes and I’ve tried everything from casual emails, SMSs, spreadsheets, Word documents, PDF docs and confirmations ranged from stamped addressed envelopes to fax to email.

For starters, all these methods caused me to reinvent the wheel each time and I was constantly refining but always limited to the constraints of the program. Often, I didn’t know what the constraints were or what I was aiming for, however, each new attempt was better than the previous one.

Spreadsheets helped because I could itemise my time for each segment of the project and the big discovery was each quote had fixed items, namely research, planning, execution, testing, installation, documentation, and training.

Despite my proposals becoming more accurate and detailed, I still had no idea if the entire proposal was read and acknowledged until I phoned or received a signoff, but at least my time and energy was taken in account.

Awareness

Last month I become aware of Bidsketch and all I heard was “electronic acknowledgement and signing” and that was enough to get my attention. Being in the software business, I naturally did my research but I came back to Bidsketch because it was recommended.

Learning

I usually like to try to dive into the deep end and read the manuals later and for the most part, this works. I had to prepare a new quotation and that was easy and quite intuitive.

Support

I became stuck on a couple of menu and navigation options but I easily found my way to where I wanted to be.

Soon after my signup, the Bidsketch help desk contacted me to offer assistance. This wasn’t in response to my learning the menu and navigation options: it was simply an automated offer, but that didn’t stop me from accepting help and I found Natalie to very helpful, knowledgeable, and best of all, patient with all my questions.

Outcome

All software products on the planet have their own method of operation, which could also be described as a “way of thinking”. Once I got my head around it, Bidsketch became easy to use and very useful.

Usefulness

Why is Bidsketch so useful to me? It has …

  • Sections which can be easily activated or deactivated or even rearranged.
  • Templates ranging in size from whole proposals to individual sections
  • Section templates also serving as prompts to ensure I’ve covered everything I needed to include along with the added bonus of presenting further ideas to my clients.
  • Special codes called fields which reproduce the client’s name wherever the code is placed. This is the same method as mail merge codes in MS Word and it works perfectly.
  • Previous proposals can be copied, recycled and adjusted for each new project.
  • Proposals can be emailed as a link or as a PDF

Ease of Use

It’s easy enough once I got the hang of it and I’ve learnt a lot of software over the years. I tip my hat to Bidsketch because the proportion I couldn’t figure out on my own was quite small compared to other products.

To explain that a bit more, there are two aspects I am referring to here. One is the learning curve and the other is the amount of information to learn in order to master the program. Both of these are very small, in other words, there is a very small learning curve and there is not much to remember or master.

I actually find that quite refreshing because I want to spend my brain energy working on the proposal itself not trying to recall a massive series of steps and procedures.

Pricing

Bidsketch offers a 14-day trial which can be extended upon request if you have a good reason. For example, solopreneurs don’t always have total control over their time if a project takes longer or there are pressing family matters. Requesting an extension because you forgot about the trial may not be successful.

The advertised pricing starts at $29 per month for 1 user so for a solo freelancer like me it was fairly reasonable but I could get it cheaper at $23 per month by signing up for yearly billing.

Dislikes

One of their automated emails suggested I could get a 40% discount but further investigation revealed I needed to be a team of 3 users with yearly billing. I wasn’t very happy about that because I felt like I was on a wild goose chase and the automated email could have explained the conditions and provided a link to the pricing screen.

The pricing screen also had small print at the footer offering a $15 per month starter plan. Again, I would prefer that option to be as prominent as the solo and team offer above. It doesn’t come across as being totally upfront.

I would also like to have full control over the proposal’s font, header, footer, and margins which can’t be done at the moment.

Recommendation

I would definitely recommend Bidsketch for producing, streamlining, and standardising your business proposals.

I would also definitely recommend all new users take advantage of the free training and webinar offered by their staff. As mentioned, there is not a lot to learn but it’s helpful to be clear on all the steps from the start.

 

Windows 10

Val Felton - Monday, February 29, 2016

I enjoy many Windows 10 features but my favorite at the moment is the automatic shortcuts to recent folders.

Word Hint

Val Felton - Monday, February 29, 2016

Double click on the grey area to the left of the ruler to quickly bring up the Page Setup dialog box.

The Page Setup dialog box gives you all the settings in the one place, so it is good to use this when you want to make changes to several settings like the page margins, the orientation, the header and footer spacing and even things like page borders or line numbering or Print Options.

Excel Hint

Val Felton - Thursday, July 31, 2014

A useful hint when you want to type the current date into an Excel cell - hold down the Ctrl key and tap the ; key.  To type the current time, also hold the Shift key ie Ctrl+Shift+;

CeBIT Australia 2015

Val Felton - Thursday, July 31, 2014

The next CeBIT technology exhibition in Sydney is on 5-7 May 2015 at Sydney Olympic Park.

World Internet Summit

Nick Felton - Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Here's a great 4 day seminar to learn about internet marketing and it only costs $197: World Internet Summit

New Site Goes Live - Yippee!

Nick Felton - Thursday, April 21, 2011
I am using a great Content Management System to turn my business from just having a website to actually having a whole business management system.

From one place I can sell things, maintain customer lists, send really attractive newsletters, run a blog, easily check site visits, and sales.

I can even set sales targets once I get a few sales people organised!!

This site still took a fair bit of work but I reckon it's worth it.

What do you think? Do you like it? 

What score out of 5 would you give it ? - 5 is excellent and 1 is crappy.

Now, I've also launched on-line training. My friends now I've been delivering PC training courses for yonks so providing web based training is the next logical step. 

You'll find it under Training on the main menu and here's what I'll do ...

If you book into a webinar and send me the word 'gazump' you'll get the one hour training for FREE!

That's right. That's your reward for visiting my new site and having a look around and reading my ramblings.

Simply contact me (there's a clue there) and send the word 'gazump' and you'll get a FREE one hour training webinar of any topic you choose.

Be quick though, 'cos I might change the word soon and you'll be gazumped - one way or the other!

Here We Go

Nick Felton - Friday, November 19, 2010
Ever been swamped with stuff you know you want to, plus the stuff you have to do, plus the stuff you don't want to do, and on top of that, you have to earn money as well?

Christmas is only 6 weeks and in between there are four birthdays, including my late mother's birthday, though she won't around to enjoy it.

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