How to Survive a Red Team Review and Learn From It

Jul 12, 2018

All of us have been there. If not, your day will eventually come. The Red Team Review members have done their pigeon-like thing. Now, your proposal writers are swimming in the after wash. How do you learn from it, keep moving, and improve your proposal?  

Follow these tips to help your team recover quickly after a Red Team review: 

1. Consolidate. Collect and de-conflict reviewers' comments. Discard any that not-actionable, not constructive, or prove once again that the critic bothered not to read the Request for Proposal (RFP). Be sure you understand the implications of each comment. Identify each and every section impacted.

2. “Bucketize.” Sort comments into three groups: 1) those you reject; 2) those you accept and will implement; and 3) those that need further study.

3. Prioritize. Put buckets two and three into a priority scheme. Account for both importance and ease of implementation. 

New Call-to-action

4. Validate. Convene your core proposal team. Confirm that you are on course. Listen to comments. Adjust as necessary.

5. Assign.  Assign a number to each comment and each comment to a champion. Set interim suspense and completion dates. Specify the deliverable you expect.

6. Brief. Convene the entire proposal team and detail the path forward and schedule for recovery. Answer questions.

7. Mentor. For “major” comments, work with the champion to implement the recommendation.

8. Integrate. Identify where changes in one section ripple to other sections. Keep everyone aligned to avoid inconsistencies and contradictions.

9. Track. Use a spreadsheet or similar tool to track each comment to disposition. Maintain visibility of progress during the recovery.

10. Alert. Be astute enough to inform management of your approach--especially if you disregard a comment. Watch whose ox is being gored.

11. Consult. If you disregard a Red Team Review comment, especially from an opinion leader or senior executive, have the courtesy to explain why.

12. Check. Trust but verify that the champions are following through.

13. Inspire. Rally your proposal writers. Encourage them to renew their efforts. Paint a word picture of success. Lead them to complete the recovery.

14. Be Accountable. Make it your mission to implement every Red Team Review comment that scores additional evaluation points. Disregard the rest.


For companies using an automated review team evaluation tool, the above steps are basically the same. Follow these guidelines to speed recovery after a Red Team Review and improve the quality of your proposal.

This post was originally published May 23, 2012 and updated July 2018. 

New call-to-action

Jim McCarthy

Written by Jim McCarthy

Jim McCarthy is the Founder of AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI). He has almost forty years of GovCon experience and leadership—first on Capitol Hill, then as founder of KSI. KSI is a leading consulting firm that has helped clients win over $200 billion dollars in government contracts. He also hosted the CBS/ WUSA9 television show Government Contracting Weekly from 2012-2014.

Post a Comment

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all