There is nothing more I dread than a Red Team II or even Red Team III. It means the entire bid and proposal team didn’t produce a compliant, strong, and compelling proposal. In addition to inviting the concern of executive leadership and dragging down the morale of the entire bid team, Red Team IIs or IIIs also result in long days and weekends full of work.
I try to avoid them at any cost. My best defense is a good offense. If I am lucky, I will join the effort before the solicitation is released so I can work with the Capture Manager or team to develop an information-collection plan, frame the solution, validate it with the customer, and optimize it. This is not often the case, because as a consultant, I usually arrive after the RFP is released.
In my experience, what the team does the first week after a solicitation is released can have a tremendous impact on whether we end up working long days and weekends. Here are five timesaving processes I implement in addition to a good Kick-off Meeting to gain efficiencies:
- Conduct a Compliance Review
- Conduct a Solution Review
- Conduct a Price Review
- Communicate the Solution to the Team
- Create a Production Plan
Implementing efficiencies during week 1 can help you avoid the Red Team II Monster!
1. Conduct a compliance review
As soon as the RFP is released, I prepare a compliance matrix that maps solicitation requirements to the proposal response. The task can often be more of an art than a science, because I often find the instructions, evaluation criteria, and requirements are not clear, are conflicting, or are two–three times larger than the page limitations. I recommend having the Capture Manager/Bid Team Lead and a few members of the Bid Team review the compliance matrix to verify it will result in a compliant response. If the team has questions, they should immediately submit written questions to the Contracting Officer to resolve them.
2. Conduct a solution review
The solicitation release invariably causes some changes to the pre-solicitation solution. I recommend conducting technical, management, and past performance reviews to determine how solution gaps can be filled, how weaknesses can be mitigated, and how strengths can be optimized and further substantiated by solid quantitative proof points. The Bid Team should quickly compare their updated solution to the customer’s evaluation criteria and verify it can still be highly ranked, and if not, determine what needs to be done to raise the score. The solution should be frozen as soon as possible barring any unforeseen changes caused by final pricing or amendments.
3. Conduct a price review
Once the solution is frozen, I recommend the pricing team verify they have all the information to generate the pricing volume and that they immediately alert the Capture Manager and Technical Volume Lead if they must change or tweak the solution to fit their price-to-win model. The Pricing Team should also communicate pricing requirements to the subcontractors, immediately determine if they are showstoppers, and communicate their findings to the Capture and Proposal Managers.
4. Communicate the solution to the team
By the end of the first week, the Solution Architect, Business Lead, and Past Performance Lead should be able to communicate the solution strengths to all the proposal writers and company executives. All writers should understand how to communicate the company’s strengths, mitigate its weaknesses, ghost the competition, and present a clear and compelling approach from the customer’s point of view.
5. Create a production plan
The very last thing I do during Week 1 is to create a production plan that describes how we will edit/review, produce, and ship the proposal in compliance with the customer’s requirements. I produce primary and contingency plans for production and ensure we leave at least 10% of the proposal schedule for production.
In summary, producing a compliant proposal outline, generating a strengths-rich solution with a correlated price, and effectively communicating the solution to the proposal writers as soon as possible after the solicitation release will help banish the Red Team II Monster. Creating a sound production plan well in advance of the proposal due date will ensure your proposal is delivered on time.
By Brenda Crist
Reprinted with permission from the APMP-NCA Executive Summary Spring 2014 edition.