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Proposal reviews are a best practice for inspecting and improving content throughout the writing process. When done well, they provide a valuable deliverable; comments with instructions on how to revise and improve proposal maturity and quality. But what about your writers: your contributing experts who must make those revisions?
For them, review instructions can often be overwhelming, requiring them to decipher and interpret hundreds of comments. It can also be tedious, especially when feedback runs counter to compliance. On the part of the expert, this can quickly lead to frustration and fatigue, and for the team, a rather inefficient, if not sloppy, revision phase that only drives the need for more reviews.
Today’s government contractors are overcoming these challenges, and improving revision efficiency, by improving how experts and reviewers interact with the content and each other. Here’s how.
#1 Clear Comment Ownership
Reviewer comments provide a revision roadmap, pointing your expert writers in the right direction. Your success relies on how well each proposal review and revision is managed.
Status Quo: Back in the day, reviewers scribbled instructions in the margins or on a review capture sheet. Centralizing content and reviews made capturing instructions easier. Using electronic documents improved review communications. Yet, multiple reviewers reviewing a large, complex document authored by multiple experts finds teams with a paralyzing question, “Which comments should I address?” That can lead to missed instructions.
Status Grow: Content and comments are still centralized, but now reviewers can assign comments to specific experts based on the expertise they bring to the proposal. Experts are notified of their comments with direct links to the document. By connecting the comment to the expert, the expert saves time identifying and addressing the comments they are responsible for. They complete the revision and mark the comment “done” making revision activity easier to track and confirm.
#2 Collaboratively Clarify Comments
Each reviewer may have a different assigned mandate, (compliance, solution, strategy). Each expert writer may have a different expertise (solution, technology, implementation). Your success relies on the interplay between reviewers and expert writers.
Status Quo: Teams improve review productivity by having a shared game plan, and asking for instructions rather than opinions or generic feedback. This small adjustment in review mind-set transforms a frustrating “this is weak” comment into a productive “add this proof point to strengthen the section” instruction. Yet, it would exasperate most reviewers to know just how many of their comments end up in the “round file” due to lack of clarity.
Status Grow: Today’s technology offers a more efficient feedback loop aimed at clarity. Instead of reviewing in a silo, reviewers can see each other’s comments. Together they discuss and come to consensus on a solid instruction instead of sending writers off in different directions. That means the expert writer isn’t wasting time slogging through redundant comments in a single review.
Instead of revising in a silo, expert writers can communicate with the reviewer through the comment to gain a better understanding of the instruction. That means experts are spending less time trying to decipher instructions and more time revising. Together, expert writers and reviewers march together in the same direction, forward.
Bonus: Instead of just rejecting a comment that flies in the face of compliance, the expert can reply, explain and educate the reviewer. From the reviewer’s perspective, this means they can avoid the same comment in the next review without wondering why the expert writer rejected the comment in the first place.
#3 Side-by-Side Revisions
When revising a proposal, expert writers are on a mission to improve maturity and quality without disrupting compliance. Your success relies on how efficiently your expert writers interact with the content and review comments.
Status Quo: Centralizing content and comments made it easier to capture comments. Unfortunately, when it comes to revising content based on those review comments, expert writers are still expected to jockey back-and-forth between content and comments. It’s frustrating, time-consuming, and has a direct impact on the quality of revisions.
Status Grow: Content and comments are still centralized. But now, when it’s time to revise, expert writers view content and comments side-by-side. They can click to find the comment in large, complex documents, making it faster to identify and apply reviewer instructions. Plus, when the reviewer is kind enough to provide new or revised text, the expert can copy and paste that into the document.
Bonus: Here we have focused our discussion on review cycles. But Status Grow also finds teams relying less on linear, pens-down review cycles and more on an agile approach; writing and reviewing in parallel. For example, instead of waiting for the next review cycle to find and make content accuracy updates or strategy course corrections, they are doing that in parallel, saving more time for more productive review cycles focused on quality and scoring.
Whether you run review cycles, mid-cycle reviews or both, staging productive reviews and revisions is paramount to advancing the proposal compliance and quality that drives evaluation. A more seamless interplay between reviewer and expert writer avoids time-consuming confusion. A more unified interaction between expert writer and content and comments reduces frustration and improves productivity.