AI for Proposals: Efficiency Boost or Cause for Concern?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has is a hot topic across industries, and proposal development is no exception. As someone deeply entrenched in the world of proposal development for USAID, I often think about whether we are truly tapping into the full potential of AI. Before you dismiss me as just another AI enthusiast, hear me out…

Let's address the elephant in the room – using AI to automatically generate proposals. It’s folly to assume that feeding a Request for Proposal (RFP) into an AI software will produce a masterpiece. We all know that such an approach would yield sub-par results. After all, nothing can replace the experience, creativity, and ingenuity that a skilled human technical writer brings to the table.

However, there is one thing that constantly eludes proposal writers – time. Regardless of how prepared we are, there never seems to be enough time to truly delve into every aspect of a bid. And this is where AI, when used correctly, can be a game-changer.

Imagine feeding an RFI (Request for Information) into an AI software and having it generate a comprehensive bibliography of essential reading materials in less than a minute. This seemingly simple task can save hours of manual research and compilation. Of course, it's crucial to apply critical thinking and skepticism to AI outputs, but when used as a tool to augment our capabilities, AI can significantly increase efficiency. Ultimately, AI should be viewed as a partner, not a replacement. Keylime Academy put together a demonstration for how AI can be used as a research partner, check out this video:

Now, let's address the spicy topic of privacy and data usage. AI systems require vast amounts of data to learn and improve their performance. It's crucial to ensure that the data used is anonymized and obtained ethically. Proposal teams must be vigilant in protecting sensitive information and complying with data protection regulations. With proper safeguards in place, like using customized software instead of open-source AIs like ChatGPT, AI can be a valuable asset, providing insights and recommendations that enhance proposal development.

It's important to acknowledge that AI is not a magic solution. It is a tool that, when wielded effectively, can give proposal teams the gift they crave the most – time. AI can handle repetitive tasks, freeing up valuable resources for more critical thinking and human interaction like brainstorming innovative solutions, refining strategies, and engaging in meaningful discussions. This is not only a more efficient use of our proposal teams’ time, but it also makes proposal development more rewarding for everyone involved.

Using AI is a skill that you need to develop, just like any other skill. And that’s part of why we invest in learning how to write prompts and engage AI in so many of Keylime Academy’s courses. If you aren’t learning and practicing and your industry peers are, then you can imagine a scenario where they may be able to work faster and more effectively if they have a powerful tool like AI in their arsenal.

In conclusion, AI should be embraced cautiously in the world of proposal development. It is not a substitute for human expertise but rather a powerful ally. By utilizing AI to increase efficiency, proposal teams can focus on what truly matters – crafting compelling narratives, understanding client needs, and delivering winning proposals. So, let's harness the power of AI responsibly and unlock its potential to revolutionize the way we approach proposal development.

What are your thoughts on using AI in proposal writing? If you are interested in learning more about how we can responsibly use AI to make proposal development less painful, consider joining some of Keylime Academy’s upcoming courses. We discuss AI for proposal development in our Technical Writing for USAID Proposals course, and are launching a new cohort on April 2nd.

Jordann El Dorry

Jordann El Dorry

Jordann is Managing Director of Keylime Academy, where she designs and delivers a suite of trainings on business development for USAID.
Cairo, Egypt