What are the basics of Review Management?

Baskar Sundaram
Baskar Sundaram

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To effectively manage organizational cycles of reviews, teams must understand, regularly practice, and work to improve execution of reviews. Effective functional review management shows executive and organizational commitment to disciplined business acquisition. Structured and timely reviews throughout the proposal process ensure compliance, completeness, and a higher probability of winning bids.

Use appropriate reviews to improve the quality of your bid.

A key element of the BD process is a series of appropriately timed reviews. These reviews focus on examining the applicable building blocks for persuasive proposals at the proper sequence in the process.

Set up each review to answer a series of key questions.

Reviews should be organized around desired outcomes. The review should be held well in advance of the expected outcome and should be repeated quarterly to keep the focus on the objective. Reviews should be clearly identified and included at appropriate points in the BD process. They must be held on schedule to allow time for actions to be taken to increase the probability of success.

Competitor Review

The purpose of the competitor review is to apply competitive assessment by anticipating the approach, solutions, and strategies that competitors are likely to use. This is often done through role-playing. 

Use a competitor’s former employees, consultants, and suppliers to formulate probable solutions, win strategies, and counterstrategies to test the credibility of your own strategy. Outputs from the competitor review provide the basis for ghosting the competition by highlighting weaknesses in their solutions and neutralizing their strengths.

Competitor reviews can be conducted multiple times during the BD cycle. The first should be in the opportunity phase, before a pursuit decision is made. Then, based on the complexity and significance of the pursuit, a second competitor review can be conducted during the opportunity planning phase. 

The Opportunity Manager or Account Manager plans and schedules the competitor review and selects team members from both the company and external sources. Team members should include individuals from BD, relevant business areas, and solution design, as well as consultants, employees, retirees, suppliers, and so forth, with recent experience with likely competitors.

Opportunity Plan Review

The purpose of the opportunity plan review is to analyze the opportunity plan and win strategy before the bid/no-bid decision milestone. Review-team members are independent of the proposal and opportunity team but are knowledgeable about the prospect, your offerings and capabilities, and your competitors’ offerings and capabilities. They review your opportunity plan to validate your win strategy, value proposition, and solution. The Opportunity Manager plans and schedules the opportunity plan review and selects team members from both the company and external sources.

Proposal Strategy Review

The purpose of proposal strategy review is to ensure effective articulation of your win strategy within your content plan and to verify compliance with the bid request prior to the start of proposal writing. Content plans help proposal teams think and plan before drafting text. Vehicles used for content plans include annotated outlines with comments about each topic, mock-ups, or even simple topical outlines for short proposals. The Proposal Manager, Opportunity Manager, or Account Manager picks independent team members from content and customer specialists.

Reviewers should read the opportunity plan and study key sections of the RFP before the chairperson convenes the review team. The customer’s perspective and requirements should be briefed at the review kickoff meeting

 Final Document Review

The purpose of final document review is to comprehensively examine the proposal by independent reviewers who emulate the customer’s evaluation team. It includes independent assessment of the entire proposal, its readiness and responsiveness to the solicitation, and its effectiveness in conveying strategy, themes, and discriminators, as well as ghosting the competition.

The Proposal Manager, Opportunity Manager, or Account Manager picks final-document review team members. Schedule the final document review when the response is 75 percent to 85 percent complete. Overlapping members from previous review teams for this review will help prevent contradictory guidance from dramatically different and uninformed review-team members.

Reviewers compile all findings into one set of recommendations. Assign the recommendations to a select core group for implementation.

Adhere to the following guidelines for more effective review management.

  • Standardize company review templates.
  • Establish review teams early.
  • Select the right review team lead.
  • Keep the same core team throughout the review cycle.
  • Incorporate teammates into reviews.
  • Use consultants in reviews as needed.
  • Conduct effective review kickoffs and debriefings.
  • Record comments and decide which to incorporate.
  • Use sub-reviews effectively.
  • Debrief management on review results.

Reviews should be timed appropriately to allow sufficient time for proposal team members to incorporate reviewers’ comments. All reviews should have a review-team lead who understands the customer and can keep team members on track. Organizations should keep the same core team throughout all functional reviews, adding team members with subject matter expertise as needed. Most reviews are associated with corresponding bid decisions.

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