The Red Team proposal phase usually has the following expectations:
- Proposal is 90 percent customer-ready, with some final honing needed to sharpen win themes, benefits, and discriminators or differentiators.
- Proposal has solid win themes and benefits to the customer throughout.
- Proposal is fully compliant.
- Executive summary is written.
- Page count is within 95 percent of target number.
- All forms and tables are filled out.
- Graphics are professionally rendered, but their numbers in text might still be out of order or not called out; there may be some imperfections.
- Proposal is written in complete, grammatically correct sentences, but has not had the final-final edits.
- Proposal already has a cover and table of contents, but not yet a list of acronyms.
As a proposal manager, you know the state of your proposal document better than anyone else. Don’t hesitate to modify these goals and include specific questions and requests to the reviewers. They are there to help you take the document to the next level.
Although not everyone likes to do it, it is highly recommended that you conduct a Read-Out-Loud review. Reading text out loud is based on the fact that when we sound something out, we are able to catch many things that escape the eye when reading.
Read-Out-Loud review expectations are that the proposal is fully edited and formatted. Then, you can take turns with a few others on your proposal team and read the printed text while someone else, good with grammar and spelling, corrects errors in the proposal document. Your goal, instead of doing a group edit, is to find inconsistencies, bloopers, and errors that might have escaped your editor’s eye. Reading out loud is a tedious process, so you have to estimate the review speed to be six to nine pages per hour and allocate time as necessary.
Gold Team is the management review of your proposal before it gets printed and finalized for delivery. Each company and organization has different criteria for the Gold Team. It varies from being “another Red Team” to the mere formality of a skim read and the final sign-off. The Gold Team is often the last opportunity for company management to read the final bid over with the goal of approving it for submission; it serves as the final blessing. Gold Team’s expectations are that the proposal is essentially 99.99 percent customer-ready and just needs management’s blessing.
The reviews are there to ensure that your proposal gets perfected through multiple sets of talented and watchful eyes. They also help enforce the discipline of getting the proposal completed by the interim set of deadlines, which helps ensure that the document is actually done by the ultimate deadline. The more drafts of the proposal developed, the more mature it gets. The more mature it gets, the more likely it will lead you to a contract award.
Around the 70 percent, time mark of the proposal writing is the Red Team review. At this point, the proposal is usually 90 percent customer-ready with some additions required to sharpen win themes, benefits, discriminators, and differentiators. One of the main goals of the Red Team review is to find inconsistencies, bloopers, and errors that might have escaped your editor’s eye.
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