Are your proposal reviews leaderless? Just because people show up, are enthusiastic, and are willing to work hard that doesn’t mean they are well led. Usually the proposal review function is coordinated by the proposal manager. But if the proposal manager is responsible for creating the proposal and administering the process, does it make sense to add quality validation to that list?
How important is quality validation to your win rate? Is it enough to merit some dedicated attention?
Consider who does each of the following:
- Defines proposal quality?
- Sets the standards?
- Writes the quality criteria?
- Decides what procedures to follow?
- Decides what the format for review deliverables should be?
- Recruits reviewers?
- Sets the schedule?
- Coordinates logistics?
- Trains reviewers?
- Tasks reviewers?
- Prepares briefings?
- Generates reports about review findings?
- Decides what should be done about the review outcomes?
- Is accountable for ensuring the quality criteria are validated?
Should all of this pass on to the proposal manager by default? It’s only quality validation. What could go wrong?
This is complicated by having review team participants that outrank the proposal manager. When this is the case, it’s often a challenge just to get reviewers to show up. Some proposal managers struggle with getting review team participants to show up having already read the RFP. Training executives to stop reading and rendering opinions, and to validate specific quality criteria can be nearly impossible.
If transforming proposal quality is a necessary part of improving your win rate, then consider making implementing proposal quality validation the responsibility of a single individual who is not already herding cats to create the proposal. Assigning a leader for the review function enables someone to force the issue on answering the questions above. The answers are less important than having someone who can give attention to each and ensure that there are answers. Proposal quality is too important to be left unsaid. Good enough is not a competitive strategy.
You can assign review team leader pursuit by pursuit, or you can have one person who specializes in proposal quality validation. The advantage to having one person do it is that your quality criteria become better over time. Your processes and procedures will improve too. But getting the entire organization on the same page regarding what proposal quality is and what quality criteria should apply to each proposal is key to continuously improving your win rate. You can view the position as profitable if the improvement to your win rate that results from the improvement in proposal quality pays for the position. And it could easily pay for itself many times over.