Pre-solicitation proposal strategy blue team review

The Blue Team Review is a structured, facilitated review that, when there is sufficient pre-solicitation notice and capture activity, occurs prior to the release of the final Request for Proposal (RFP) or tender.

The Blue Team assesses the win strategy, proposal plan, and contract risks. The goal is to determine if the win/profit potential justifies the cost of proposal preparation. When justification is not evident, the Blue Team either recommends a no-bid decision or the actions required justifying further consideration and pursuit of the opportunity.

The Blue Team review is as much a working session as it is a review. The team attempts to develop solutions to issues as they arise. Issues not resolved during the review may be forwarded to management, or may generate action items aimed at closing open issues.

Blue Team Participants

The Blue Team comprises the SVP BD and capture/proposal team members, including the Capture Manager, Proposal Manager, volume/section leads, and pricing lead. Other participants, as directed by the BD executive or Capture Manager, include operations personnel, outside consultants (former government customers), SMEs and other proposal experts.

Blue Team Review Process

The SVP BD leads the Blue Team Review. The proposal strategy review consists of a one-day capture-led presentation and discussion of information developed in Proposal Strategy process, including:

  • Revised capture plan win strategy
  • Risk review conclusions
  • Preliminary Proposal Management Plan (budget, schedule, organization, staffing)
  • Outstanding Action Items
  • Why your company Summary

The Capture Manager can develop a review checklist to meet the needs of the BD Executive. The following discussion includes the types of information the Blue Team assesses in determining the path forward to pursue the opportunites.

Capture Plan/Win Strategy Review

The Capture Plan includes key elements for determining your company’s competitive position and preparedness to compete. The Capture Plan topics and review questions include:

  • Win Strategy
  • What are the customer’s wants and issues?
  • How do we give them what they want and resolve their issues?
  • The themes, discriminators, innovations and initiatives — why choose your company?
  • Competitive assessment — why choose someone else?

The Capture Plan also describes the concept of operations to deliver what the customer wants; i.e., what benefits does the customer receive from your:

  • Team composition and structure (e.g., prime-sub, Joint Venture and Timited Liability Corporation)
  • Organization, Program Manager and key personnel — Who?
  • Management System — Which tools?
  • Staffing approach — How many?
  • Location and logistical plan — Where?
  • Technical approach — How?
  • Cost approach — The Deal?
  • Why your company summary — Sales pitch in each evaluated proposal factor/sub factor
  • Pricing strategy/profit potential — How many dollars in?
  • Proposal budget — How many dollars out?

The Blue Team is particularly interested in identifying gaps in your understanding of the customer, the Why your Company story and the concept of operations (e.g., teaming voids or an unfilled PM billet). The Blue Team can generate action items for the capture team to complete.

As a result of this review, the Blue Team must answer the most important, and basic question:

Is it possible to win?

Risk Review

The Blue Team assesses the likelihood and consequences of identified contracting risk.

Preliminary Proposal Management Plan (PMP)

The Blue Team assesses the adequacy of the preliminary PMP’s cost, staffing and schedule. Key questions on this preliminary PMP include:

  • Is the budget sufficient?
  • Is proposal staff adequate — quantity?
  • Is the proposal staff capable — right skill mix?
  • What is the level of participation of project personnel?
  • What is the proposal schedule?
  • Who are the reviewers? Are they the right reviewers?
  • Who are the Proposal Manager and Volume Leads? Are they the right for the job?
  • What is the teammate contribution to the proposal — people, facilities, equipment?

The PMP may be under-funded or have staff levels or capability gaps. The Blue Team is expected to assist the capture effort by ensuring the team has the resources needed to succeed.

As a result of this review, the Blue Team must answer the most important and basic question:

Can we develop a winning proposal, on-time, within budget?

Outstanding Action Items

The capture process is dynamic. The Blue Team should be apprised of the ongoing actions that could affect your company’s competitive posture, contract risk, understanding of customer issues, or ability to deliver customer benefits — all of which can affect the bid/no-bid recommendation to management. The Blue Team can offer assistance in closing some action items, such as securing a PM or recommending review team participants.

Why Your Company Summary

The Why Your Company summary is a five to ten page PowerPoint presentation that aligns what you propose with the customer requirements and issues.

The summary includes Why Your Company summary bullets for each evaluation factor and is expected to deliver “wow”-level benefits to the customer. In essence, the summary bullet points amount to topics covered in an “elevator speech” — a sales pitch the Program Manager can deliver to the customer during a 30-second elevator ride.

Draft RFP Review

The second day (or part) of the Blue Team agenda is RFP review. The purpose of the review is to develop a common understanding of both the contract and proposal requirements. After the RFP read-through, the Blue Team can challenge the information in the proposal strategy and develop an alternate opinion on customer issues, your company’s response, level of risk and the proposal management approach.

Following the review and discussion, the Blue Team can develop and review existing questions to be submitted to the Government concerning the RFP. The Capture Manager is responsible for collecting and submitting RFP questions

Blue Team Review Findings

The Blue Team considers the information and develops a bid/no-bid argument for BD executive and management consideration. Since this is the second key decision point in the Capture Process, there is usually a bias to recommend bidding. The Blue Team should impose an objective bid decision discussion prior to making the bid/no bid decision.

The Blue Team also identifies the conditions to go forward with the bid if the review identifies significant weaknesses and risks; e.g., lack of an adequate PM, gaps in SOW coverage requiring teaming, inadequate proposal budget or staff, unfavorable RFP or contract condition, or unacceptable liabilities. The actions needed to correct weaknesses and issues are put on the action item list and noted as a Blue Team requested action for tracking through resolution. Each week, the Capture Manager reports the status of these action items.

A bid decision includes approval of an initial B&P budget to fund proposal planning process through Step 6 and continued proposal resource development — staff, facilities and library. When the Bid Decision is to bid, the BD Executive can authorize the proposal to go forward on risk; that is, to begin the proposal development process based on draft RFP requirements. At this point, the Proposal Manager takes a greater leadership responsibility with the Capture Manager supporting the proposal planning and development process to ensure that the capture and Blue Team objectives are met.

A no-bid decision ends the proposal planning process. The Capture Manager is responsible for developing the lessons learned and archiving capture planning and proposal strategy information.

– Melanie Baker


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