In a winning proposal process, proposal managers conduct reviews throughout the writing phase to confirm the team is on track with compliance, capture strategy, scoring criteria, and readability. The resulting review identifies what needs to be fixed and what needs to be strengthened in the proposal. When reviews are unfocused and siloed, however, review feedback and instructions can be redundant, unhelpful or in conflict, leaving the proposal team wondering "now what"?
Color-coded proposal reviews, also known as proposal color team reviews, are considered a standard best practice for conducting more organized, more effective reviews. They act as both a review and a standard guideline for the review, helping reviewers understand how each review builds on the last - incrementally improving proposal quality.
Here we'll unpack the the proposal color team review process with a focus on helping review teams understand how their reviews are the roadmap that helps the team advance win probability.
Your review team is your gate keeper; they provide insights and instructions on where the team may have blinded themselves to compliant issues and solution or strategy weaknesses. Where the narrative is choppy, where language could be more concise, and where added details will drive a deeper understand, and acceptance, of the proposition.
While organizations may "color" their reviews a bit differently, standard color team reviews normally include blue, pink, red, green and gold reviews. Not every review is required, or even recommended, in every bid, and most teams will tailor their color team reviews based on the size and complexity of the opportunity. Here we lay out the focus of each review and some industry secrets for success.
Blue team reviews are the first standard review, conducted when the opportunity is in the Intersection, or qualification or capture stage, and the proposal itself is in the outline phase. Although it may seem premature to hold a review at such an early junction, blue team reviews can be incredibly useful for confirming the basic proposal outline, the resources necessary to complete the proposal, and that the appropriate roles and responsivities are staffed.
Blue team reviews focus on gauging whether or not your organization has the right qualifications and resources to win. Discriminators (what makes you stand-out from the competition) and win themes (the message(s) you want to convey throughout the proposal) are identified. Gaps in the solution, information supporting the solution and the strategy, and resources are identified before the process advances.
Bottom line; the tougher the blue team review, the better the qualification, the smoother the proposal process, and the more quality the resulting proposal writing.
Pink team reviews occur after the team has begun writing but before the proposal has reached any sort of cohesion. Although the pink team review may seem to have similar goals as the blue team review, with respect to compliance and completeness, pink team reviews dig much, much deeper.
Pink team reviews focus on content and intent, checking for consistency between sections and ensuring the narrative themes are maintained throughout. They pay special attention to things like document format and content and proof point gaps. A pink team review is also the opportunity for leadership to introduce any course corrections before major strategy or solution revisions throw off the schedule.
Bottom line; the more thorough the pink review team, the smoother the proposal process, and the more time the team has to focus on revisions that advance proposal quality, rather than corrections.
Red team reviews are a major team milestone; where the review team adopts the customer perspective and reviews a nearly complete proposal. Rather than strategy and solution revisions, the red team review focuses on the proposal's maturity. Is the narrative easy to follow and compelling to evaluators? is the proposal easy to read and to understand for different types of evaluators? Does it answer the questions that will arise in the evaluator's mind as they read? Will they read, or skim? If they skim, will they easily find the details they need to score? Would a graphic help with that? Does the value proposition stand-out against the competition and resonate with evaluators?
Bottom line; a red team review is a crossroads for your team. To be successful requires a fresh perspective - a review team who hasn't taken part in previous reviews or doesn't have the same opportunity background as business development or technical background as subject matter experts.
Green Team Reviews
Green team reviews can occur at any stage of proposal development, but often occur at or around the same time as red team reviews. The difference lies in the focus; while red team reviews focus on the customer and proposal maturity, green team reviews focus on pricing evaluated against RFP stipulations.
Because pricing is typically tied to the proposed solution, the green team review also serves to double-check the technical, management, implementation, staffing, and legal aspect of the proposal, i.e., ensuring you can accomplish the proposed solution within the proposed budget, especially when it comes to custom work. For example, does the solution fit the price? is it priced to win? How will it compare to competitor, or incumbent, pricing?
Bottom line; green team reviews conducted throughout proposal development keep the team in sync on solution, as articulated in the proposal, and pricing. They also identify any risks, that may occur during delivery, that may need to be identified by legal in the assumptions surrounding pricing.
Gold team reviews occur prior to proposal submission. As a final review, they confirm that all sections of the proposal are compliant and formatted correctly for submission, including headlines, table of contents, page limits, and exhibits, including graphics, call-out boxes, and tables. The gold team review is the final compliance check prior to publishing the proposal.
Bottom line; if you've conducted at least three of the other review teams before this point, there should be no major changes at this point in the process.
Depending on the size and complexity of a proposal, it can 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. Leveraging best practice color team reviews provides the proposal team with a clear roadmap for improving win probability, while saving valuable time the team can invest in revisions that resonate with evaluators.