Colour review teams—across the spectrum

With tenders it is important to put in place rigorous reviews and decision points, sometimes called gates. These make sure that your organisation puts together a winning proposal. To get through each of the gates an independent team may review the proposal or an aspect of it. The review teams are given colour names and the review is also known by that colour.

Purple Team—opportunity assessment

The purple team assesses the probability of winning, alignment with organisational goals and whether it is the right opportunity. They try to quantify the business risk of winning or losing the tender. The purple review team look at how much will it cost you to put the bid together and whether can you afford to lose after you have invested the time and resources in the bid. They also look at whether you can properly deliver the project (ie do you have the technical capacity, capital and the resources). The other important consideration is whether it will match your organisational goals and enhance your reputation.

Grey Beard Team—technical requirement

The Grey Beard Team undertakes an expert technical review of the project from the viewpoint of the customer. They determine precisely the customer requirement and whether your organisation can deliver it competitively. It should be noted that the technical contractual requirements specified in an RFP or RFT may not necessarily be feasible or consistent. It is important to have them reviewed to understand difficulties or the potential for cost blowouts.

Black Hat Team—assess competition

The objective of a Black Hat review is to develop insights into your competitors win strategies. This way you can create a counter strategy or expose their weaknesses. It is not unusual to know the most likely and credible competitors. You either know from experience or by using your colleagues’ networks to find out (people often move from competitor organisations). Build competitor profiles and try to quantify their likely bid strategies. A key example is discovering their joint venturers as this can expose both their strengths and weaknesses.

Blue Team—strategy and content

The Blue Team reviews the draft to ensure the win strategy is clear and that the profit projections are still acceptable. Is the document framework and outline complete? Will the technical aspects comply with requirements? At this stage all relevant content should have been identified and allocated to people to complete.

This review is an early sanity check to make sure that appropriate information is being assembled and that resources are properly allocated to the proposal. Some organisations undertake a second blue review, but a change of direction late in the process results in too much re-work and a waste of resources.

Pink Team—messaging and presentation

The Pink Team makes sure the strategy, messaging and presentation are consistent and appropriate and that the approach is competitive and compelling. The review looks at the content and draft to confirm the branding and key messaging are consistent with the strategy.

The review looks to make sure the narrative is understandable and responding to the requirements of the RFP or RFT and to the customer needs as they are understood. It identifies gaps that may make the proposal non-compliant.

Emphasis is on consistency of content, messaging and presentation. The document should have a consistent voice, that is, the major sections should be in the same style of writing, spelling, acronyms, units and quantities, headings and chapters sections.

Red Team—score compliance

The Red Team Review is the most important, the most critical and comprehensive of all the reviews. This “self-assessment” should identify gaps, weaknesses and any poor compliance issues. It should be undertaken by people not involved with the proposal writing team who can objectively assess the document from the customers’ viewpoint.

They assess each of the mandatory and desirable requirements based on the material supplied and presented in the proposal and score them based on the criteria published in the RFT or RFP.

Red colour review teams also check whether the themes and messaging are clear and that the benefits are identified and obvious. However, you must avoid treating it as a proofread for spelling and grammar—it is a critical assessment of the documents fitness-for-purpose.

Green Team—cost and price

The Green Team reviews costs, pricing, compliance with finance and contracting policies and makes sure the financial information is presented to meet the requirements of the RFP. This review may occur at any time but is most often done in tandem with the Red Review.

Green Colour Review Teams ensure pricing is accurate based on the technical and quantity specifications. It therefore requires both financial and technical reviewers. The most critical aspect of creating a competitive bid is being able to make sure that the solution is accurately priced with the correct margins in place to be viable.

Gold Team—final approval

The Gold Review document is a complete draft of submission quality (except inevitably for late material that should be flagged). Gold Colour Review Teams are usually senior executives or managers able to authorise your organisations commitment to the contract. They will already be aware of the strategy, pricing and bid strategy.

The Gold Team focuses on approving or refining the key aspects of the technical proposal that are the deal winners or breakers. They will make decisions about the levels of risk and margins that your organisation is willing to accept to win the work.

White Glove Team—final presentation

The White Glove Review is a page turn of the final document to pick up layout glitches, errors in printing, omissions and version control. It makes sure that corrections from the Red, Green and Gold reviews have been properly incorporated.

White Hat Team—lessons learned

The White Hat Team undertakes a “lessons learned” review. The aim is to identify what was done well that should be done in future and what was done badly that needs to be improved. First an internal review looks at your organisations processes immediately after submission. Second is the external review (after the customer’s decision) that seeks customer feedback on their view of the proposal.

Madrigal Communications can assist with compliance and document reviews.