Using Shinto for Pitches and Business Development

We are hearing from some of our clients that they use Shinto as a “pitch machine,” meaning they use Shinto to answer an RFP or prep for a pitch by creating 80 project budgets and scopes (assumptions) for procurement in an hour or less. We at Shinto find that a great story because Shinto was designed because of a pitch.

Pitch Imperfect

Any project manager, especially in advertising and marketing, knows the nightmare of the RFP and pitch process … you get an RFP at an inconvenient time, often a couple weeks before that big end-of-the-year holiday you had plans for. You spend a couple days writing responses to the poorly-worded RFP questions, which you know the clients won’t ever read.

Then the creative and strategy team goes off for ten days to come up with “Just Do It” or “Have a Coke and a Smile” and a disjointed tactical plan. That leaves the project manger three days to price out and write the scopes for 93 projects.

When you’re finally done it’s Christmas Eve and the CEO looks at the budgets and says, “That’s too expensive.” So you have to crack open the spreadsheets and and click hundreds of times for hundreds of tweaks—a few hours lower for this guy on this particular project, and a few hours lower for that guy on that other project.  

Then you get that drumroll where you look at the new totals and take them back to the CEO for approval. And she says, “A little lower.” And you crack open the spreadsheets again. 

Merry Christmas 🎄.

Rage Against the Pitch Machine

It was the desire to liberate ourselves from this inefficiency and frustration that motivated us to create Shinto.

We asked ourselves:

  • “Why do we have to start every budgeting process from scratch? — Why can’t it be automated based off historicals?”
  • “If we want the budget to increase by 3%, why do we have to go into each of the three people on it and manually type the hours, and why can’t the revised budget show me where the project stands relative to the baseline?”
  • “And while we’re at it, what if there was a tool that created a client- and pitch-friendly Gantt view of all our projects as each budget is created?”
  • And, perhaps most futuristically, “How about if this hypothetical software wrote project assumptions dynamically?!”

And that’s when the pieces started falling neatly into place—a project- and program-management pitch tool that looks and works differently from anything available, where budgets are created, and modified, in seconds, along with a scope, then automatically placed into a great-looking Gantt chart. It was off to the white board! One of the most energized moments in our lives. We finally saw an end to the miseries of pitch scoping, budgeting and scheduling!

The Key to Pitch Perfection

As we proceeded, it occurred to us that if this new software had the budgets and a Gantt chart showing where in time the budgets would be expended, then perhaps it could forecast fees from hours across time as well.

Our wheels started spinning on the problem, and it didn’t take long to design algorithms that would cut up the project’s budgeted dollars across months. That feature alone was getting us further along than many of our competitors.

But the Holy Grail in the Land of Pitching Business still lay in the fog: To get truly accurate financial forecasting we would have to design a tool that knew when each person on the project would expend their hours.

To get truly accurate financial forecasting we would have to design a tool that knew when each person on the project would expend their hours.

Our competitors attack this by asking the poor users to assign each person to each task on each day of the project, sometimes months out—thousands of clicks!

We all know the frustration when, in hindsight, we review the inaccuracies of these forecasts, and realize that all those man-hours spent setting up and allocating resources for complex projects turned out to be an ineffective waste of time.

Ultimately, what happens is that this feature of current PM systems is abandoned, and there goes any hope of automated forecasting. But on a pitch, you just can’t afford to invest so much time.

So the question became, “How can we ditch that method entirely and think of a whole new way of financially forecasting?” And finally it became apparent that if the financial forecast came from the hours for each individual across time, all we had to do was nail the hours forecasting, and as a result we would have the resource forecasting, as well.

To see how we changed the dynamic around pitching work entirely, just contact us for a demo.