Creating Fee Proposal Letters
Did you know you can enter your project details into Abtrac and then automatically create fee proposal letters based on that data?
Read on for tips and tricks this month about :
Why people enter Project proposal details into Abtrac
Fields people use to generate proposals
Detailed budgeting for complex proposals
And how to automatically generate editable fee proposal letters with Abtrac using Microsoft mail merge
Why enter Project proposal details into Abtrac?
Many people will enter a proposal project into Abtrac.
Some people start these projects as ‘unbillable’, others will start the work immediately as a billable project and use a project status to determine between live and pending projects.
People enter proposal work into Abtrac in order to analyse these projects in the same way you analyse your other billable projects
Abtrac users who keep a close eye on proposal projects can often reduce the time spent tendering, and increase the percentage of proposals that are approved
Entering proposals in Abtrac can make life easier for administrators to quickly access proposal data and convert possible projects to ‘live’ projects
Entering the initial fee estimate data into Abtrac saves re-keying the same data twice
You can use the initial estimates and project description to automatically generate editable fee proposal letters in Abtrac using Microsoft mail merge
Abtrac Project Details – Fields people use to generate proposals
Abtrac projects include many fields to record proposal details, people often use:
A full list of the fields available to use in a MS Word Proposal form are also on our knowledge base.
Abtrac Project Stages – Detailed budgeting for complex proposals
You can enter a one off quote or estimate, or build up a detailed budget by breaking down a project into tasks or stages. These stages can then be included in a detailed table in your proposal.
We’ve talked in detail about budgeting using Stages or Tasks for Abtrac projects in past newsletters, although if you’d like a re-fresher on Abtrac stages then check out these two articles in our knowledgebase, or give us a call.
How to automatically generate proposal documents
with Abtrac using Microsoft mail merge
You can export any number of project details from Abtrac to a pre-prepared letter template. This document can then be edited further if required before being sent to the prospective client.
Creating and linking a letter template
1. Create your letter template document in word, and save it into a folder somewhere. (You can leave the merge fields blank at this stage)
2. Point to the template in Abtrac from System Management>Administrator>Letter Management.
Enter a letter description, and set the letter file path by clicking on the * button and browsing to the file location. For Projects (Projects) Letters, ensure the ‘Project/Project Details’ option is ticked.
This will determine where and when the letters will be visible for use within Abtrac (in the Contact Management Groups, Project Details, or Debtor Control screens respectively).
3. Also in System Management>Miscellaneous Properties there is an “Export Path”.
This tells Abtrac where to put the export files to which the Word templates are linked.
Check that you have an export path defined, and that the location is either common to all users, or accessible to all users on your network.
4. Next you’ll need to Link your MS Word letter templates to the Project data files.
There are two files available for a fee letter merge: export.txt and merge.xls.
The “export.txt” data file contains all the data from the Client Details, Project Details and Billing Details screens. Use the mail merge feature in word to link to the fields from export.txt in your document.
This file contains data from the Project Stages screen.
If you wish to include a table of tasks and estimates, then from MS Word choose:
Insert > Object > Object > Create from File > and Browse to link to merge.xls.
Tick “Link to file” to save this merge object setting.
5. When the above is set up, your final letter will look something like this:
Exporting Project Proposal details to a pre-prepared letter
6. When this template letter is set up once from any Project click on the Print button. Then from the export/merge project details section on the right > choose the letter > and then choose Print.
7. When you click Print, Abtrac will (re)export the two data files then open the chosen template letter.
Choose Yes if you are asked to overwrite the export files, and don’t forget to rename and save the newly created word document in the relevant Project folder at your office.