All the features you need with just a couple of small snags along the way.
Updated December 09, 2014
All the features you need with just a couple of small snags along the way.
Score 7 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Qvidian Proposal Automation
Qvidian is used by our Proposal Development department, responsible for responding to RFPs received by the company. It replaced our previous software, Pragmatech's RFP Machine. Qvidian stores all of our commonly used RFP responses so that they are readily available. Along with our department, a select few subject matter experts also have access to the ProSearch version of Qvidian so that they can keep their own records up to date and more easily respond to our requests when needed.
- Organization: Qvidian uses a folder tree layout with user-created top-level categories that can then be branched out into more in depth subcategories. For our own use, our top level categories refer to the various products our company offers (Medical, Pharmacy, Vision benefits, etc.), with the subcategories narrowing down to more specific subjects, such as condition management for Medical and formulary information for Pharmacy.
- Searching: Qvidian uses a Google-like approach to searching. When a user searches for a term or phrase, if the correct record is found and used, then the search term the user had typed in is added to the meta data of that record. Then, in the future, when that same term or phrase is searched again, the record(s) containing that search term appears closer to the top of the search results. Note that users have the ability to preview a record without actually using it, so search terms will only be added to records that are specifically used in a response document.
- Editing: Two choices are offered for editing records, both of which utilize integration with Microsoft Word. In the first choice, records are edited one at a time as separate documents. This allows editing of both the record and its corresponding meta data. For mass record changes, this choice is a bit slower and more inconvenient, since each record can only be seen one at a time, and records can't be compared side-by-side. The second editing choice allows a user to edit multiple records in one document. However, this does not allow a user to edit records' meta data. This trade off does allow for easier editing of multiple records at once, though, since a user can utilize Word's various comparison tools such as a split document screen to see two parts of the document at once.
- One area where Qvidian occasionally struggles is feature regression. For instance, the editing option that puts multiple records into one document had always been present in Qvidian; however, when the multi-edit feature that only allows editing one record at a time was released in version 9.1, the original editing functionality was removed. This caused me a lot of frustration, as it severely slowed down my work flow since I could now only see and edit one record at a time. It wasn't until a year later when version 10 was released that the old editing functionality was added back. However, one bright spot of version 9.1 was an added feature that allowed organizing records by simply dragging and dropping them into different categories. This was much easier than having to right click on a record, select Move, then right click on a folder and select paste. However, with version 10, this feature was removed and I'm now back to having to right click on records instead of dragging and dropping. It seems that with each release, I never know if something I like will be taken away or if something I don't like will be added -- sometimes it's both.
- A recent change that was added in version 10.1 that I personally view as a negative is that Qvidian now handles all requests server side instead of on the user's computer. This means that if a user wants to export or edit a large number of records, they have to wait for Qvidian's server to generate a report of those records. Depending on the number of records, this can be very quick (a few seconds) or very long (I've waited up to 20 minutes before) depending on how taxed Qvidian's servers currently are. I understand the reasoning behind the move, in that it takes the load off of a user's computer so that other applications they currently have open aren't affected by added memory usage, but in practice I find that it only slows down my workflow. Any somewhat modern PC shouldn't have any trouble handling a large report request from Qvidian.
- Although Qvidian is certified for use in several different browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome for Windows), it doesn't offer the same functionality in each one. For instance, in Explorer, when a record is selected for editing or export, it will automatically open in Word. In Firefox, a pop-up dialog appears and a user has to click Open in order for the record to appear in Word. And in Chrome, the file is added to the download bar and a user must click on the file there for it to open, unless they add an exception to .docx file types to automatically open in Word (which I had to do, since I prefer using Chrome). Other simple features such as right clicking on a folder or record to bring up Qvidian's context menu are hit or miss depending on the browser. In Explorer, everything is generally smooth, though the browser itself is slower than the other choice. In Firefox, right clicking generally works but sometimes has some hiccups, and in Chrome, more often than not right clicking brings up Chrome's context menu instead of Qvidian's, which often leads to having to first select a folder and then click the dedicated Actions button in Qvidian to perform the desired action. No matter which browser you use, there will be some sort of functionality that doesn't quite work as expected.
- Compared to the old RFP Machine software we used to use, Qvidian is better in every way. The time savings alone are worth the cost. In our old software, editing 25 records or so would have taken me at least an hour, probably more. With Qvidian, the time spent would only be 15 or 20 minutes if using the single-document editing choice. If I needed to change a lot of meta data using the multi-editing choice, then it would probably take me 30 or 45 minutes, but still much shorter than before.
- Qvidian's customer service is pretty great overall. Whenever I run into a technical issue, I submit a bug report online, and I'm generally put in touch with a technical support representative in 10 to 15 minutes. From there, they analyze my problem (often through a remote connection to my computer) and are able to either figure out a solution, or mark the problem down as something that needs to be fixed in a future release.
Back in 2012 when we were evaluating new software, the only other choice we looked at was PMAPS. At the time, it had a very dated user interface and its functionality was far behind what Qvidian was currently offering. I can't speak for how PMAPS has evolved today, because I've had no reason to look into it further since we got Qvidian. At the time, though, there was really no question in my opinion as to which software was better suited for my department's needs.
We've already renewed our contract with Qvidian and plan on using it for the foreseeable future. Apart from the fact that Qvidian has all the features we need to respond to RFPs and maintain a large informational database, the time that would need to be spent researching and testing out a different piece of software just wouldn't be worth it. All of our users are well learned in Qvidian, and it's easy to teach to new users. Having to learn a brand new application when the current one works great is pointless. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies here.
Overall, Qvidian is a great piece of software for those who have need for a robust knowledge database application. Its organization and ability to search for records is fantastic, especially if you have a large amount of information that is commonly used. It also has the ability to build finished RFP documents, though my department doesn't utilize this feature, as it doesn't lend itself well to our already established processes. I know that many other users praise that ability, though. When selecting a product such as Qvidian, you should take a look at the type of information that you will be handling, both in quantity and content. If you only have a couple hundred records, or if your records are mostly number-based, then it might not be worth the investment. However, if you're constantly responding to RFPs with several hundred or thousands of answers, and your responses are often lengthy narratives, then Qvidian will definitely be useful. Like any software, there are areas where Qvidian struggles, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives compared to other software I've used.