Those of you who’ve studied common terminology and processes in the proposal profession will know of the proliferation of ‘colour reviews’ – a ‘blue’ team to review the win strategy, pink for proposal strategy and storyboards, gold for internal approvals, red for the final document review.
I’ve written in the past about my hatred of the unnecessary jargon that people create by using this ‘colour coding’ jargon, rather than easily-understandable names. But what’s really struck me lately is how the profession’s received wisdom actually misses out perhaps the most beneficial review stage of all.
See, in the process described above (and as reflected in the APMP accreditation scheme), there’s no formal review of content as it’s developed, between the storyboard and the final document. And, by the time the final document comes to be reviewed, it’s actually often too late to make too many substantial changes.
Where we’re often asked to work as peer reviewers is during the content development process: once a section or answer has reached a reasonably-advanced draft, we’ll look at it and see what works – and how it could be sharpened. That’s well before the content reaches the final proposal draft to be looked at by the ‘red team’ – and in good time for the contributors to take on board the feedback and rework their material.
Playing devil’s advocate at this stage can have a huge impact – constructively challenging each and every piece of content to suggest how the writing could be tightened and the customer focus increased. It’s not unreasonable to assume that a ‘bottom-up’ review of draft content like this can add least 10% to your score in the customer’s scoring (and often much more) – thus having a huge impact on where you’ll finish in the evaluation rankings.
And yet this form of peer review is missing from the standard ‘colour codings’: a missed opportunity by so many proposal teams!