Make Your Red Team Review a Success!

A few weeks ago, I finished a proposal on behalf of a wind power company to the US Army.  This was the small business’s first proposal to a federal agency and we started late.  Sound familiar?

After developing a proposal schedule, I discussed the importance of a Red Team review with senior management and the proposal team.  They understood that getting a major review of the proposal prior to creating the final version would be immensely valuable. 

We had the company’s COO, Director of Finance, Finance Controller, Director of Business Development, and an outsider on the Red Team.  After receiving the Request for Proposals (RFP) from me with brief directions, they spent a day reviewing three proposal volumes. 

Everyone had a different perspective on the proposal, but together their comments made the proposal tighter, better focused, more specific and accurate, and compliant with the RFP.  The Red Team had done its work well, and as a result we were able to submit a complete, compliant, and persuasive proposal.

For many small businesses, given the constraints of time and resources the Red Team is the only color review you are likely to get.  Fortunately, it also is the fastest and best way to improve a proposal.  To help make your Red Teams a success, follow these steps:

  • Choice your Red Team members early and prep them by sending out the RFP and a set of detailed instructions about the review process.  In your instructions, focus their attention on the most important sections of the RFP.
  • Create a reasonable Red Team schedule and stick to it.  Red Team members should understand that you have little time and that they must do their review quickly but thoroughly.
  • Insist that Red Team members provide line-by-line changes using the track changes function of Word.  You do not want comments such as “Needs revising” or “Good.”  You need specifics.  Your instructions to the Red Team should make this very clear.
  • As Proposal Manager, you should be responsible for reviewing the Red Team’s comments, discussing them with the proposal team, and then creating a new version of the proposal.  Someone has to do this and it is you!
  • Have your proposal team and senior management review your new version to make further changes and create the final version for production.

If you have organized and scheduled the Red Team review properly, you will be surprised and delighted how much your proposal improves as a result of their comments.

As a final step, do not forget to contact Red Team reviewers and thank them profusely for their work.  They have really helped your company in ways that you could not do by yourself.

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