Managing the final stretch

Recent posts covered managing large narratives to submission, including preparing proposal writers for success, pre-Red Team management, and running a Red Team review. This post provides guidance for managing from Red Team to submission.

Immediately following Red Team, provide section leads with annotated narrative(s), and confirm they understand and have committed to making required updates.

Pens down

During or before the Red Team review, set and communicate a “pens down” date. This is the point at which all post-Red Team updates are due. For most proposals, assuming pre-review narratives were largely complete and compliant, section leads should require less than a week to submit for pens down.

Copy editing and proofing

Following pens down, the core team copyedits the narratives for smoothness, grammar, one-voicing and consistency in the use of acronyms, short forms and capitalization. This is often an intense period—but nothing like the panicky efforts to rewrite entire sections that often characterize poorly managed proposals.

Editors should identify instances where Red Team input was not integrated, and/or where content is unclear. When these flaws are found, do not send the sections back to the authors. Instead, retain control of the narrative, by sending a snippet and question via email or using screen-share to make the correction. This is faster and reduces the chance of corrupting a nearly perfected document.

Gold Team review

A Gold Team review, typically by senior executives, is standard for most teams. It aims to confirm the offer aligns with the requirements, is viable, and entails an acceptable balance of risk and reward. If the proposal has been well managed, with a sound strategy, clarity on requirements and well managed reviews, there should be no surprises at Gold Team.

Final tweaks and preparation for submission

Correct any flaws identified at Gold Team and prepare the proposal for upload as text or PDF(s) to the issuer’s portal, or for printing and binding. If printing, have the printer make one copy and do a page-flip with the core team to catch production flaws before printing and binding.

The time scheduled between Gold Team and submission depends on the size of the proposal, the submission requirements—and, of course, your confidence the Gold Team reviewers won’t suddenly have second thoughts about some major aspect(s) of the proposal.

Careful management pays off

This month’s posts describe in a general way how we support our clients in managing proposals for large contracts. The logic is self-evident—before you unleash dozens (or hundreds) of individuals in a high-stakes, time-constrained proposal effort, it only makes sense to communicate a clear strategy, have a plan to manage them closely, and conduct formal progress reviews.

If you base your process on this month’s posts, you’ll see upcoming submission deadlines as a time to celebrate, not panic.

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