Some Basics on Proposal Review Teams
Updated: Jul 15, 2022
The potential for group think on a proposal team is HUGE. Review teams help make sure that you aren't getting sidetracked, and stay pointed on the way to a winning bid.
I've worked with enough clients to know that review teams come in a lot of different shapes and sizes.
Broadly speaking, review teams are people external to the proposal team - they haven't worked closely on the materials that they are reviewing. Instead, they bring in a fresh perspective. I've seen review teams that include senior management, technical experts, donor relationship experts - both pulling from internal staff and external consultants. When review teams are used effectively, they provide a sounding board for the proposal team to validate the course they've chosen, get essential feedback, and bring the proposal team back to what's truly important for a winning bid.
Often called color team reviews (because organizations like to have short hand), these proposal reviews are industry standard across technical sectors for business development.
These are a few examples of the types of reviews I've seen (color coded by the Shipley standard):
Strategy reviews - held either early on in the proposal process, or periodically, strategic reviews technical, management, and pricing strategy against the donor's needs/wants/hot button issues
Technical design reviews - typically held early on in the international development sector, these reviews assess the logical framework of the technical design to ensure that it makes sense and align to the donor priorities
Full technical draft reviews - mid-way or even late in the proposal process, review gives a touch point to ensure the technical design hasn't veered off course, and that management approach is on track to meet the donor needs (in nascent BD teams, this is sometimes the only formal review)
Initial draft budget reviews - early in the process, this pricing strategy review offers a chance for input on the budget, ensuring alignment with internal policies and setting estimates for consortia members
Full budget reviews - later in the process, these in-depth reviews ensure alignment between the technical design and budget and allow for final validation that all internal standards are met
Final submission package reviews - at the very end (or more often, simultaneous to the next two reviews), this is the final institutional sign-off that the submission package is ready to go
Compliance reviews - a final review against a compliance matrix, designed to ensure all minimum requirements are met
Editorial reviews - a final grammatical, spelling review
These processes vary in name from organization to organization, but the common thread is that review teams can be very valuable in redirecting and refocusing the efforts of the proposal team.
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