An effective proposal review process is absolutely essential to the crafting of a winning proposal.
Unfortunately, the proposal review process in many companies is viewed as more of an annoyance than as a strategic business tool, to the clear detriment of the proposal. Often, proposal reviews are not planned; rather, they are scheduled at the spur of the moment. Many times the reviewers who participate do so because they are the only staff immediately available. Frequently, those assigned to review the proposal are not even familiar with the Request for Proposal (RFP), its requirements, or what the company is offering. They are rarely briefed on their responsibilities as reviewers, or on the desired outcome of the review process.
As a result, the reviews (and consequently the review teams) do very little to further the development of the proposal as it moves inexorably from one review team to the next, and, ultimately, on to final production. The most obvious symptom of an ineffective review process is reviewer mark-ups that contain only spelling and grammatical corrections or those that provide open-ended comments, such as, "This is vague", but offer no concrete suggestions for improving the content of the proposal in a way that allows it to be scored more highly by evaluators.
An effective proposal review process provides for timely development of important concepts and the resolution of specific technical and overall content, integration, and continuity issues at strategic touch points in the proposal process, such that the proposal reaches full maturity (approximately 90 percent completion) as it nears Red Team.
By Red Team, the proposal should be not only instructionally and technically compliant, but also compelling in its sales message and its response to the evaluation factors. The proposal should unequivocally present the company’s value proposition and succinctly answer the question, “Why ABC Company”? The proposal should only require fine tuning of the overall sales message or the correction of minor factual errors prior to Gold Team.
In Part 2 of this series, we will describe the types of proposal reviews that companies typically implement (although not all companies use all of them, nor, unfortunately, does a specific color equate to the same type of review across all companies). The descriptions will include the purpose of the review, the desired outcome, and suggest the type of reviewer that should participate in each. You can use the descriptions to evaluate how closely your company’s review processes align with each level of review, assess how often your proposal reviews at each level achieve the desired outcome, and decide whether to make any changes to your review process.
“Getting to Gold” will always be hard work, but implementing an effective review process will significantly improve your company’s chances for submitting a proposal that has been sufficiently and carefully matured in all areas.