It should never happen, and it happens all the time: two people unintentionally work on an RFP response section simultaneously.
Sometimes, one of them catches the error right away and the damage is minimal.
Sometimes, versions diverge for several days and the damage is ugly.
Why does it happen? I blame lack of discipline, crummy communication, and confusion, but the greatest of these is confusion.
With 24/7 online access to file repositories, it’s just too easy to take a file and start working in it, without following the discipline of checking with the file’s owner. Computers aren’t the problem, but they do exacerbate it.
Communication (of the crummy variety) sees the writer sending an expert a section for comment, but the expert thinking they have it for revision. Crummy communication is compounded by people working in different locations and having to rely on spreadsheets that track who has a file, if anyone ever opened it up to check. There’s no list up on the wall to remind folks of who has current control over which section.
But confusion (of the internal variety) is the true enemy. Confusion already haunts proposals because proposal teams are often just a gaggle of people working on the same thing, rather than a true team with clear roles, explicit protocols, and established communication channels. Add end-of-cycle fatigue to that base and the writer who sent me a section for editing yesterday, starts revising it today. Here, the cure is management – of the team by its manager, ideally, or of your own self, if you’re not living in an ideal world – to keep from overdoing it.
Two people unintentionally work on a proposal section simultaneously.
It happens all the time. It should never happen.