Proposal Quality Validation: Criteria based proposal reviews

Tools and guidance to help you review the quality of your proposals

Improving proposal quality leads to higher win rates. Improving proposal quality requires more than just having reviews. And the proposal reviews you do have must be consistently effective. Most are not. Achieving consistently effective proposal reviews requires more than just asking some experienced people to show up, read what you've got, and give their opinions. It requires more than marking up the document with subjective corrections. Subjective reviews may not even be better than nothing.

If you are serious about winning, you need to put more effort into quality validation. You need to evolve past looking for defects and instead build quality into the proposal and validate that it has been achieved. To do this, you need to define what proposal quality is, create quality criteria to use for assessing proposal quality, and then implement a process for validating that your proposal quality criteria have been fulfilled. 

The way most companies do their proposal reviews is broken

Conducting a proposal review with little or no preparation beyond printing the proposal and a copy of the RFP can be worse than not doing any review at all. You shouldn’t conduct every proposal review as if they are all the same, when what it will take to win could be very different. If you focus on having one major proposal review, you are probably making both of these mistakes. Preparing for and passing your proposal reviews should not be about doing the same ineffective things only trying harder this time. 

Part of the problem is that most proposal reviews are based on obsolete proposal review methodologies that people follow instead of thinking through how to effectively apply quality to proposal development. We can do better than what we learned early in school or early in our careers. If you want to remain competitive and win what you submit, you need to improve the way you assess proposal quality.

In many ways, your review process is your proposal process. Your proposal process should be driven by how you are going to review your proposals to validate their quality. If all of your proposals are not passing their reviews, something is wrong with your proposal process. You can’t deliver quality proposals if your proposal team doesn’t know what the reviewers expect.

Achieving a consistently effective proposal review process

Premium Proposal Quality Validation resources for PropLIBRARY Subscribers:
Online training for Proposal Quality Validation:

When we created the Proposal Quality Validation methodology for the MustWin Process, we started by providing a written definition for proposal quality that links the pre-RFP pursuit, the content planning phase of the proposal, and proposal reviews. It provides proposal reviewers and proposal writers with the same criteria and set of expectations regarding proposal quality, while establishing traceability to what was discovered about what it will take to win during the pre-RFP phase of the pursuit.

The foundation of a consistently effective review process is something that almost every company lacks: a written definition of proposal quality that can be turned into criteria to be used during proposal reviews. It is such a simple and obvious thing, but almost every company we encounter still uses outdated, poorly defined, subjective review practices.

Proposal Quality Validation separates what you review from how you review it. What you review matters more than how you review it. Your proposal process should surface the criteria you need to define quality based on what it will take to win. Then you have as many reviews, conducted in whatever ways make sense, at whatever times make sense, to validate that the proposal fulfills the criteria. The details for doing this are accessible to PropLIBRARY subscribers.


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A subscription to PropLIBRARY unlocks hundreds of premium content items including recipes, forms, checklists, and more to make it easy to turn our recommendations into winning proposals. Subscribers can also use MustWiin Now, our online proposal content planning tool.


Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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