Proposal red team review

The Red Team is conducted after completion of the Proposal Second Draft or, for smaller proposals, after completion of the Proposal First Draft.

The objective of the Red Team Review is to provide the proposal team recommendations aimed at raising review ratings.

Red Team Version Production

The Red Team version is a near final document, analogous to a 90% engineering design review. The goal is to have all text complete and all graphics embedded. The final 10% required for completion includes final editing, completed front matter (list of graphics, acronyms and cross-indices) and a complete approach and solution with outstanding management and pricing decisions; e.g., staffing levels.

The Proposal Coordinator, working with the Publishing Manager, compiles and tabs the proposal section drafts in the manner prescribed in the RFP. The Proposal Coordinator numbers each copy and assigns, by number, a copy to:

  • Each Red Team participant
  • Each Capture Team Manager
  • The Proposal Manager
  • Proposal Coordinator
  • Publishing Manager

Red Team Participation

Red Team participants, where possible, should be the same individuals that participated on the Pink Team review.

Review execution – When, Where, What and How

The Red Team review occurs after completion of the drafting step. Red Team should take no longer than two days, including debriefing the proposal team.

Red Teams should convene where there is minimal interface with the proposal team. This can be accomplished by conducting the review in an off-site (non-proposal room) location or giving the proposal team leave while the review is being conducted. Breakout meeting and reviewing space is recommended.

The stated proposal objective is to receive a higher customer rating than the competition. Therefore, Red Team reviews are to mimic Source Evaluation Board (SEB) behavior to some extent. That is, the Red Team is expected to review the proposal in accordance with Section M of the RFP.

Specifics of the Red Team review process are determined by the review team lead.

Regardless of the review methodology, the Red Team must, at a minimum, develop and present to the proposal team:

  • Score or rating as described in Section M (Evaluation Criteria) of the RPF.
  • Major strengths, strengths, weaknesses, and deficiencies for each factor and/or sub factor
  • Clarification Report/Deficiency Reports (CR/DR) for each factor and subfactor
  • List of proposal show stoppers

Here is an example of a proposal evaluation scoring worksheet:

Proposal evaluation scoring worksheet (PDF)

Proposal Evaluation Scoring Worksheet (Word document)

The Proposal Manager develops the Correction Report (CR) and Deficiency Report (DR) forms to be completed by the review team. Sometimes both forms are combined into one form or corrections are made directly on the proposal and only deficiencies are entered onto the form. In addition to CR/DRs, the Red Team is encouraged to document their evaluation in accordance with the method prescribed in M (e.g., the color, numerical, adjectival, or risk rating), the results of a compliance review and the proposal’s major strengths, strengths, weaknesses, and major weaknesses for each factor and subfactor.

Here is an example of a proposal review discrepancy report:

Proposal Review Discrepancy Report (PDF)

Proposal Review Discrepancy Report (Word document)

Note that weaknesses and major weaknesses should be accompanied by a Discrepancy Report that fully explains the proposal’s shortcomings.

The  proposal process is designed to keep the proposal within RFP page restrictions through the Red Team draft. Nonetheless, there is a high likelihood of some modules, and thus the proposal, being over page count. Therefore, when the Red Team requests additions to the proposal, they should also recommend areas to cut information.

The focus of this step, as with all proposal process steps, is on delivering benefits to our customer that drive evaluation scores higher. Therefore, the Red Team should avoid resolving internal team issues through the proposal; i.e., scope splits, key personnel and proposed corporate systems and support, should be selected to maximize customer benefit.

Red Team Debrief

The debrief is attended by the Proposal Manager, Capture Manager, Proposal Coordinator, volume/section leads and module authors, SME’s, and a representative from publishing. The format for Red Team debrief is determined by the Red Team leader. The team leader may present the entire debrief in meeting format using comment forms as a handout. Alternatively, the debrief can consist of many presenters, but only one presenter per factor or sub factor using projected view graphs. The proposal team is to listen, but not engage the presenter, except to get clarification of the Red Team comments.

Following debrief, the Proposal Coordinator “strips the books.” The Proposal Coordinator collects the Red Team books, extracts the pages with comments and organizes them by module author. The CR/DR forms are likewise compiled for distribution to each author.

Comment Disposition

The Proposal Manager reviews the comments and CR/DRs with the Capture Manager and extracts the substantive comments and recommendations that require disposition. Yes, there are often silly review team comments that warrant no expenditure of the author’s time to resolve. The comments that need resolution are input on a disposition tracking form.

The Proposal Manager then meets with each module author to distribute Red Team comments and CR/DRs and discuss the list of comments requiring formal disposition. This is informally referred to as a Red Team recovery plan. After reviewing the assigned comments, the author indicates on the forms the steps to be taken to resolve actionable review comments.

Rationale for no action on a comment

The Proposal Coordinator maintains the disposition tracking form until all comments are resolved. This form is an input to the Gold Team review process.

Red Team members are tasked and often paid to find flaws. With this incentive, flaws are “discovered” whether or not they exist. Leadership is needed to keep the proposal moving toward improvement, and away from resource wasting efforts to “correct” items that don’t need changing.

– Melanie Baker & Mike Lisagor


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