Just seen a reminder for next week’s UKAPMP session. Sadly, I can’t make it: my wife’s due home that day after two weeks out of the country, and I do occasionally have to try and balance work and life! (I love attending these sessions, though. Having been the first CEO of APMP in the UK, it’s wonderful to see how the organisation has grown since its inception five years ago).
Most good proposal writers devote hours to removing unnecessary jargon from their documents, making them as easy as possible for the customer to understand. I can therefore never understand why, as a profession, we seem to revel in creating our own jargon. “Red team”, “blue team”, “magenta team” (I made that last one up, but I’m sure there’s someone out there right now preparing for a Magenta Review Meeting).
It all adds to the mystique of the proposal process, and acts as yet another barrier for salespeople and content contributors – who dislike writing proposals at the best of times. We make them learn an entirely new language, before they can even join in! What on earth is wrong with “Independent Review”, “Peer Review”, or some other phrase that stops us hiding behind unnecessary gobbledygook?
And whilst I am being provocative, if the jargonistic title is number one on my list of pet hates, the remainder of my “top ten common pitfalls” in this area would probably be as follows:
2. Late, inadequate briefing of review participants.
3. Inexperienced (or, perhaps, inappropriately experienced) review participants (“Please read this as if you were the customer. What, you’ve never evaluated a proposal on the customer side of the table? Oh well, have a go anyway!”).
4. Lack of training for review participants. (“Hey, just have a go!”)
5. Participants who are too close to the opportunity in question – and who therefore seek to impose their own pre-existing prejudices on the document.
6. The “red team” (bah, humbug) being the first independent review that takes place. (Far better if you can capture wise ideas from the “great and the good” early, using outputs from a proper strategy and storyboarding session).
7. Reviews conducted too late, giving too little time for the review itself, and too little time to incorporate any feedback.
8. A poor feedback process. Pity the poor proposal manager, in the dying days of the proposal effort, desperately trying to pull in the final remaining content – and being dragged off to hear the oh-so-superior red team’s comments!
9. Confused scope. (There’s one leading consultancy out there, who’d better remain nameless, who sees proofreading as a core activity for the “red team”. Yikes. The people who have the right skills to peer review your document are most certainly not the people you want to be your proofreaders).
10. Excessive internal focus. No matter how hard you try to get the team to review through customer-tinted-spectacles, there’s a tendency to default back to analysing the risks to your organisation should you win.
As always, comments welcome! I’m sure they’ll have a lively debate at UKAPMP next week.
PS – BJ: please can you red team this entry for me before I post it? I need your comments within the hour. Make sure you proofread it carefully for me, won’t you?. (Joke!).