Part I – Introduction to Color Team Reviews
1. What do we mean by Color Team (Gate) Reviews?
Although this might seem a trivial question to many, it is indeed an item of controversy as to what a color gate review should cover and what should be its goals. In the most general terms, color gate reviews are gate reviews conducted to enhance the quality of the proposal and align it to the requirements of the RFP. Each “color” depicts a specific stage of the review and enhancement process and also provides a time constraint on the effort to ensure that the proposal is prepared on time, with quality.
2. What is the Need for Color Gate Reviews?
To understand the logic and necessity of color gate reviews, we must first touch on the proposal writing methodologies themselves. There are mainly 2 different ways of writing a proposal which I have labeled as:
- One-Shot – Kill All – Create the structure and then start writing the best narrative you can for each section and don’t stop until you have given it your best (you and your team), then move to the next section. So, by the time the team finishes all the sections, you have a proposal that is good to go. You have been focused and have fully devoted yourself and your team’s resources to each section, have discussed every word and sentence within the team and have finalized a winning proposal. Quick and Easy.Unfortunately, this is the methodology used by most technical people, scientists, and people who have not worked with the Government before. And that is why they continue to lose excellent opportunities even though their solutions are truly innovative and to the point. Don’t think you don’t have this problem at your company. Most technical oriented people are prone to some percentage of this mindset; just write the proposal in one shot and get it done with. You, as the proposal manager/director/owner, should always be aware of this threat in your environment.
- Progressive Escalation of Quality (PEQ) – The pragmatic team knows that it won’t have all the information at hand to start writing and finishing each section in one go. It knows that human beings are prone to mistakes which can be rectified by repeat and multiple iterations of work. The team knows that a PEQ methodology, although more time consuming, can provide a higher quality product at the end. And, if you want to use the latest group work theories, this way of proposal writing offers more opportunities for teamwork, and although managing it is more time consuming, it produces a higher ROI from the personnel you expend in this effort. It is not maxed by your Guru’s capabilities; it is based on the cumulative capabilities of the entire team.
So when you are going by the PEQ methodology, you need Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to gauge your progress (quality-wise), and that is where color gate reviews come in, to keep you in the right direction. The color gate reviews essentially provide you the means to gauge how well you have progressed. To speak in federal proposal terms, they facilitate evaluating the presence or absence of win themes and discriminators, compliance with the RFP requirements, and responsiveness to the customer’s needs that produced the RFP in the first place.