Building a Proposal Schedule – Key Milestones
By Global Services on May 25, 2018
Once you have figured out if you should bid, you must develop a clear and concise proposal schedule. In breaking proposal development down into clearly defined milestones, the process becomes more manageable and prevents a last minute scramble—or worse, a rejected proposal.
Below, we outline the key milestones that should be included in a proposal schedule. While the unique requirements of a particular proposal may require modifications to these milestones, for most proposals, each of the following should be incorporated into the calendar.
Blue Team (Content Planning / Storyboarding)
- Blue Team is an initial content planning/storyboarding session, which focuses on developing the key themes of each proposal section before actual writing begins.
- Why it matters. Early content planning allows the proposal team to identify any key information gaps early in the process, and helps ensure a unified message across the proposal as a whole. It also provides the writers with a starting point from which to work, which is especially helpful for inexperienced proposal writers who may be unsure what to write otherwise.
- After Blue Team, the writers create the first draft of each section.
- Graphics should never be an afterthought. Rather, they should be a key part of the way you tell your story. For that reason, it’s important to begin developing graphics early in the process. Ideally, drafts of all graphics should be included in the initial draft of the proposal.
- Why it matters. Creating and fine-tuning graphics is a time-consuming process. In addition to making sure that the graphics are integral to the proposal story, developing graphics early in the proposal process ensures that there is sufficient time to make sure the graphics are both visually appealing and compliant with all RFP requirements.
- Pink Team is the first formal review of the proposal document(s). At this stage, reviewers should focus on making sure the proposal is heading in the right direction, with the understanding that there may still be gaps, unpolished language, etc.
- Why it matters. Pink Team ensures that show-stopping problems are identified early on, while there is still time to correct for them. Skipping this step risks allowing such problems to go undiscovered until it is too late.
Light Green Team
- An initial pricing discussion. The pricing team typically works separately from, but in parallel to, the other writers.
- Why it matters. Pricing issues may impact the technical solution, so it’s important to identify any issues early on. The Light Green Team also identifies any problem areas in the pricing while there is still time to solve them.
- Red Team is the second formal review of the proposal document(s). At this stage, the documents should be complete (no gaps), although the language and visual appeal of the document may still lack polish.
- Why it matters. Red Team allows reviewers to see an essentially complete proposal document. This review verifies that all content is correct (no inaccuracies), complete (nothing missing), and compliant (nothing that contradicts RFP/PWS requirements). The review takes place midway through the process, so that there is still time to correct the identified weaknesses.
- Gold Team is the third formal review of the proposal document(s). This is a “good-to-great” review, which focuses on final changes to strengthen the proposal such as enhancing proof points, polishing language, making final adjustments to graphics, etc.
- Why it matters. While the previous reviews have focused on making sure the proposal meets the minimum requirements to be eligible for award, Gold Team focuses on creating a compelling document. A strong Gold Team review is the difference between a “good enough” proposal and a winning one.
- A final pricing review. Green Team ensures all issues uncovered during Light Green Team have been addressed and that the proposal is priced to win.
- Why it matters. This review finalizes the pricing, ensuring that the Price Volume is complete and can be reviewed for any minor edits (e.g. final narrative wording changes) as part of White Glove.
- The White Glove review is one last read-through of the proposal document(s) by a very small group of senior reviewers. Any changes at this stage will be minor.
- Why it matters. It’s an opportunity to read the proposal as it appears following all post-Gold edits, and it’s one more chance to catch any small issues that may have escaped notice during previous reviews.
- Although many RFPs now allow for electronic delivery, hard-copy requirements are still very common. It’s essential to allow ample time for the production team to print the documents, place them in the appropriate binders, add covers/spines/tabs, burn any required CDs, apply CD labels, etc.
- Why it matters. Production problems are common. Printers jam, covers don’t quite fit into binder sleeves, and so on. All of these problems are easy enough to correct—as long as the schedule has allowed sufficient time to do so.
- Following production, a small group of senior reviewers flips through the printed documents to make sure nothing went wrong during production.
- Why it matters. As the production team is likely not familiar with the proposal, they will not necessarily be able to identify a missing or misplaced component. The Final Flip-Through ensures that any production problems are caught and corrected before the proposal is boxed up.
- Any delays in delivery—even if they’re not your fault—are your responsibility. For electronic proposals, if a Government server failure makes timely delivery impossible, your proposal is still subject to rejection. For hard copy proposals, there are any number of unforeseen circumstances that could result in a late (and hence rejected) proposal, such as the courier losing the package or heavy traffic interfering with hand-delivery. Hence, it’s important to plan to deliver the proposal a day early. If anything happens to interfere with delivery, you will still have a full day to devise a solution.
A well-designed proposal schedule will allow sufficient time for each step, and will distribute work as evenly as possible across the available days. While the pace may be brisk, it will be manageable and controlled. An effective proposal schedule eliminates the need for eleventh-hour rewrites and brings order to an otherwise potentially chaotic process. Taking the time to develop an effective schedule at the beginning of the effort—and sticking to it—will save a lot of time and stress later on.
Need help developing your proposal schedule? Contact Global Services today for assistance with scheduling and the rest of the proposal management process.