Key task: Red Team review

Past posts have focused on key tasks in the bid lifecycle—process steps that can tip the balance between losing and winning. These included:

This post’s topic is the Red Team review. Schedule this review to take place when the proposal will be 50 to 60 percent complete, and while there’s still time to make significant improvements. A good rule is half to three quarters of the way through the response window.

Success ingredients for Red Team reviews

Successful Red Team reviews focus on compliance and how well the win strategies are expressed in the proposal. Pay attention to these critical sub-tasks:

  • Fix the date; invite the right people: Announce the red team review date at kickoff and work towards it. Invite section leads and potentially other individuals who know the client, the project and the competition. Insist on in-person attendance.
  • Make it document-based: Collect all sections about one week before the review. Perform structural edits and identify compliance gaps and opportunities to improve strategic messaging. DO NOT fuss with language and grammar at this point. Circulate an assembled proposal in Word to all reviewers at least three business days before the review.
  • Set expectations: Ask participants to review and annotate their section(s) before the session. We recommend setting up proposal templates to include the RFX requirement for each subsection, so reviewers have easy access to the “ask” in each case. If possible, receive annotated sections and merge to create a consolidated copy containing all comments.
  • Pre-plan and facilitate: Plan to spend an entire day reviewing a large proposal. For very large proposals, consider reviewing by major section or volume. Use a strong facilitator and follow an agenda. Project the review consolidated copy and align the conversation on each section with the evaluation criteria. DO NOT let the review get sidetracked by issues of grammar and style. Identify and resolve conflicting comments during the review session whenever possible. Capture all new input and assign owners to new content needed.
  • Follow up: Assemble and consolidate the reviewers’ comments immediately after the session. Work with authors to close gaps and integrate new content. Manage this process via weekly or more frequent touchpoint calls. Perform smoothing and one voicing edits in preparation of the Gold Team (pre-submission) review.

Making it happen

  • Get buy-in and commitment for a robust Red Team review
  • Implement the strategy making and kickoff processes described in the linked posts above, so your proposal is reviewable
  • Set a date at kickoff and manage to have a reviewable document prepared three days ahead
  • Reach out to section leads ahead of the date to ensure they support the review and understand their responsibilities
  • Choose a comfortable room in a location that discourages interruptions
  • Circulate the proposal, evaluation form and an agenda three days ahead of the session
  • Run a high-energy, constructive session, and then use the input to improve your proposal.

The payoff

Feedback from a document-based, strategy-focused Red Team review can turn a run-of-the-mill bid into a winner.

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