Government Proposal Writing: Proposal Review
Writing a winning government proposal is not the product of luck, but rather careful planning, writing, and review. In this four-part series of blogs, we will be discussing the capture, strategic planning, execution, and evaluation processes. Each of these elements is key to create not only a compliant proposal but a competitive proposal that can win contracts.
The review process for a government proposal usually requires several prescribed reviews. These are often referred to by the color of the review, beginning with Blue, Pink, Red, Green, Gold, and ending with White. Each step of the review process will further mature the proposal and assess the proposal for specific elements.
Blue Team Review
- Proposal will be outlined and may include draft tables and graphics. Key personnel,
solutions, win themes, and strategies should be identified.
- Blue Team will evaluate the outline, identify any gaps, and ensure that all sections are
included and assigned.
Pink Team Review
- Proposal will be mostly complete, each section will include content drafted with a clear
approach. The document will contain graphics and tables.
- Pink Team will review for compliance and completeness, identify any gaps or concerns.
They will also begin to look at the overall story to make sure that it is compelling and
consistent with the customer’s needs.
Red Team Review
- Proposal will be almost complete, with the concerns identified in the subsequent
reviews addressed. The document will be formatted and contain final graphics, tables,
- Red Team will review the proposal from the customer’s perspective, looking for
compliance and clarity. They will also look at the overall value of the proposed
solution, including the features presented and the cost.
Green Team Review
- Green Team will review for pricing, look for completeness and compliance with the
prescribed format. This review can occur at any step of the process.
Gold Team Review
- Proposal will be complete and formatted.
- Gold Team will focus on high-level win themes and differentiators.
White Team Review
- White Team will complete the final review and check for visual or formatting errors.
Outside of this prescribed process for evaluating your proposal, there are some additional elements you may want to consider for an effective review.
1. Preparing Your Reviewers
Before you start to think about reviewing your proposal, you need to make sure that you have selected qualified and prepared reviewers. Each reviewer should have the appropriate experience and background to assess the proposal at its given stage, so that they are able to provide the feedback and guidance to move the proposal to the next level. Reviewers should have a broad knowledge of your company’s strengths and the proposal's requirements. You should also make sure that reviewers have adequate time and availability to complete a thorough review.
Each phase of the review process will evaluate the proposal for different elements, additionally, every review should also evaluate win themes, differentiators, and compliance. Providing reviewers with a tool such as instructions or a scoring matrix, designed for each step of the review process, will ensure that the reviewers are using a consistent approach and methodology. This may also help reviewers to stay on task and look for the elements that are significant to their team’s review. For example, the Blue Team will be looking at a rough draft and should be evaluating the proposal outline, not looking for formatting or spelling issues. Instead, you could use prompts such as, “Did the section adequately address the customer’s needs?” or “Did we thoroughly describe our approach or methodology?”
2. Editing and Formatting
Typically proposal manager will be responsible for making sure that each writer is aware of formatting and space restrictions. They will also be in charge of compiling the elements and ensuring that the document is consistently formatted. When you are able, using technical editors ensures that you create a polished and consistent document.
You should plan to determine the process for responding to each review. One or two, highly qualified people should review comments and determine which are relevant and need to be addressed. If there are significant re-writes, determine who complete the re-writes and make sure the goal of the edits is very clear and specific. At this point most proposals are very large, so version control will be incredibly important.
3. Creating Graphics
Including graphics can save valuable space, present complex concepts, and will elevate the professionalism and interest of your proposal. We generally try to include a graphic on each page of text, these may include tables, call-out boxes, diagrams, or figures. It is important to make sure you are including meaningful elements that bring value, increase understanding, and resonate with the customer’s requirements.
The review process ensures that the story you created is consistent, compelling, and compliant. But, the final and most important phase of this entire process is submission. When possible submit ahead of the deadline, being on time is part of compliance.
If you follow these steps, carefully planning, writing, and reviewing, you will be well on your way to consistently generating winning proposals.
If you found this material helpful and want to learn more, check out our podcast, The Inside Scoop with Novelle, at www.novelleonline.com/podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, or Overcast.
Rita Simmons, Ph.D., is the founder and lead consultant of Novelle, where she provides business and research consulting to companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Simmons leverages her drive for innovation and excellence along with her extensive executive and military experience to help companies grow their business, drive revenue, and achieve strategic goals. When you’re ready to take your business to the next level, contact Dr. Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.