Prototyping and helping to build AutogenAI’s AI-powered bid and proposal writing software
It started with a problem that every organisation faces
Finding the time and energy to write sales bids is a challenge that every leader grapples with alongside their busy schedule. AutogenAI’s founder, Sean Williams, saw this universal issue as an opportunity to be solved and had a great idea.
“Anyone who’s worked in a commercial organisation will know how much time and budget go into compiling bids for new work,” Sean says. “I wanted to show how we could use artificial intelligence technology as the foundation for an automated bid-drafting tool that would speed things up and bring down costs while still enabling companies to stand out and produce winning stories.”
AutogenAI approached Softwire to gain some specialist engineering resources. Sean explains: “I brought Softwire in because I needed a delivery partner that could work flexibly in a fast-paced professional environment to validate our vision and help us to quickly turn that vision into an enterprise-level product.”
Starting with turning the fluid ideas into one solid prototype within two weeks
As with any idea seeking to break new ground, the nature and scope of the project were extremely fluid during the early days. Our engineering consultant started a two-week ideation period to work with key stakeholders to turn the concept into a prototype web app. This included identifying and addressing a list of blockers that could arise in the end-to-end user journey.
Next came the challenge of building a product before a properly wireframed UI design could be done. Our team effectively communicated with the core AutogenAI team to form a mutual understanding of the product by describing it verbally and sketching it out.
There was a commitment to keep the pace rapid. We saw different idea versions come out, but with each version, the code and UI design were maintained to the highest quality so we could adopt it, move fast, and provide a solid foundation that could be built on easily later.
The ideation phase was a resounding success. Sean takes up the story: “With Softwire, we successfully validated the end-to-end user journey and hypothesis, and delivered a prototype of the web app, all within a few weeks. This meant we could confidently pick up the pace, and we challenged Softwire to rapidly transform the prototype into a robust, user-centric, and commercially ready offering that we could start selling to customers.”
Getting the benefit of the best advice and experience from the start
The project team consisted of a technical lead, a developer, and a user experience (UX) designer to enable fast-paced development and accelerate the project, as well as effective oversight and governance to ensure everything ran smoothly.
An added benefit of this mixture of backgrounds was that the detailed technical and design aspects were understood from all angles, and each project member could be involved in the higher-level product capability discussions with AutogenAI.
Yemi Olagbaiye, Client Director at Softwire, explains how the project team was committed to helping AutogenAI get the most value from its investment: “For example, we created an initial set of reusable designs that could be applied to new screens as these were developed. This involved a one-day workshop, run by our Head of Design, to take AutogenAI through the process to validate assumptions and remove major obstacles.”
In addition, so that the product would be able to support the anticipated increase in customer numbers, we provided DevOps expertise to the team. This ensured the application’s infrastructure was suitably scalable, making use of cloud services to do this cost-effectively.
Incorporating proof-of-concept feedback into the process
Collecting and using customer feedback was a crucial step as it helped to support the potential of the tool, boosted commitment to getting the project to the launch stage, and gave confidence to the key stakeholders that this product was viable and desirable.
Sean reveals: “Even the initial version got customers really excited, even though we hadn’t yet built out all the features in our roadmap. You could see light bulbs coming on in people’s heads as they recognised the opportunities to really improve an area of their business that’s traditionally consumed so much time and budget.”
With the product launched and a queue of prospective customers at the door, AutogenAI wanted to ramp up its own team to maintain and enhance the software, so we set about upskilling them in the product and in delivery best practises.
As the number and capabilities of the AutogenAI employees expanded, we continually adjusted our roles and responsibilities to complement their capabilities and maintain the right balance of skills on the team.
Real and productive results after six months of exciting work
5x growth in headcount for AutogenAI in six months
50% reduction in bid costs being reported by AutogenAI customers
“The Softwire team has been absolutely magnificent. Really, utterly superb and has played a huge part in the success of AutogenAI.”
Sean Williams, CEO, AutogenAI
After a whirlwind period for everyone involved, Sean was very happy with the results six months later: “Things have moved incredibly fast over the last 12 months. We’ve built an enterprise-level bid writing product that is making our customers tendering more effective and more efficient.
Customers are loving the way the product has sped up their bid-drafting and driven down costs, in some cases by as much as 50%.
Sean adds, “The Softwire team has been absolutely magnificent. Really, utterly superb.
“There have been some pressures, as there always are, but the Softwire team has been exceptionally professional in dealing with everything and has played a huge part in the initial success of AutogenAI.
“We’re two steps ahead of everybody else, but it moves so fast that others will catch up, so I want to be ten steps ahead. I think the Softwire team will be key to that.”