Proposal Management Inspection: Review Team Collaboration

Proposal management is the best practice process of leading a team through the written portion of the sales cycle. As the team writes, proposal reviews are a critical step in this process. It is here where reviewer reactions and insights advance proposal maturity and quality; where a choppy narrative becomes engaging, where more concise language builds credibility, and where added details drive a deeper understanding of the solution for a more lasting impression.

It may take multiple reviews to improve proposal maturity and quality. How well proposal reviews are managed will determine how far the team can go toward strengthening proposal quality to improve win probability.

In the third part of this Blog series, we will explore proposal management with a focus on cultivating review team collaboration to reduce time and increase proposal quality.

Collaboration for Faster, More Productive Reviews

Proposal collaboration typically begins at the Intersection of business development and proposal management; qualifying an opportunity. Where the rubber hits the road, however, is the collaborative team Interplay necessary to bring the organization’s understanding of an opportunity to light in the written proposal.

Where the team goes from here will determine how well the proposal resonates with evaluators. We like to think of this step as the Inspection; where reviewers identify compliance, solution and strategy issues, provide feedback and instruction, and address scoring goals.

How to Achieve Collaborative Inspection

Email out four review copies, and the odds are three copies will be returned. The odds are also that at least one will be a review of an older document version. There will be some helpful feedback, but some of it will be redundant and some of it will be ineffective, like, “this needs more”. Experience demonstrates that the more collaborative the review Inspection, the more fruitful the review and the more productive the revision.

There are four simple process changes you can make to achieve a collaborative review Inspection. The key is to give the reviewers what they need to be insightful and precise.

  • Ask for Instructions, Not Feedback. This is a best practice first brought to light by Carl Dickson over at PropLIBRARY, and further explored in David Seibert's insightful book, Proposal Best Practices: A Practical Guide to Improve Your Win Rate When Responding to RFPs. Improve time spent in review by asking for specific instructions instead of generic feedback. This small adjustment in mind-set will transform a “this is weak” comment into an “add this proof point to strengthen the section” instruction. Make sure your reviewers understand how each review builds on the last – incrementally improving win probability – and how their reviews are the roadmap that helps the team get there.
  • Use Reviewer Time Wisely. If the review date arrives and the proposal is not ready, full of gaps and inaccuracies and boilerplate, it’s time to reschedule. When it is time to review, swap the frustrating email search for a centralized review. Reviewers will save time with direct access to the current version of the document. They’ll have visibility into what other reviewers are suggesting, eliminating redundant instructions. They’ll have access to previous reviews for context and deliver more thoughtful instructions. Add smart phone and tablet access and on-the-go reviewers will never miss a review again.
  • Proposal Reviews are All about Consensus; identifying and agreeing on what needs to be fixed and what needs to be strengthened in the proposal. When reviewers have collaborative access to each other’s work real-time, they can build on ideas, discuss differing opinions, and come to consensus during the review. Proposal managers spend less time clarifying weak comments and mediating differing opinions, and the team spends more time on revisions that improve quality.
  • What’s a Review “Hot Wash”? When review instructions are in conflict, a debrief, or “hot wash,” clarifies and prioritizes what to incorporate into the proposal. By centralizing reviews, proposal managers, section leads, and book bosses have a single point of access to evaluate all review instructions in context. They sort and filter and quickly identify where the conflicts are and where clarification is needed, minimizing confusion among the team during the revision.

By harnessing collaborative team Inspection, teams make reviews faster and more productive, and deliver a clear roadmap for impactful revisions that advance proposal quality and win probability.

Read on for the fourth Blog in this four-part series focused on cultivating post-review revision collaboration to reduce time and improve proposal quality: Proposal Improvement.

Miss the first and second Blog, Proposal Management Intersection and Interplay

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1-Minute Read: Drive Proposal Quality with Faster, More Productive Reviews

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