The EXA Way Supplement

Red Review Report

Page 203

The Red Review assesses the quality of the proposal document at its final draft stage. It identifies any weaknesses the writing team should correct and observes strengths the team should build upon. At this stage, the proposal document should be mature and substantially complete. There should be no ‘TBD’, blank, preliminary, or incomplete responses.

The Red Review identifies weaknesses the writing team should correct, and it observes strengths the team should build upon. The Red Team will provide specific feedback to individual authors, as well as general feedback to the team.

The Red Review addresses four key areas:

  1. A review of the proposal document, including the “Seven Cs” of proposal `writing (see page 199 of Win Big The EXA Way)
  2. A technical scoring of the proposal
  3. A review of the proposal’s organization, structure, sequencing, and flow
  4. General comments

Mandatory Criteria Assessment

Table 1 shows the evaluation of the RFP’s requirements set out in the mandatory evaluation criteria and proposal preparation instructions (IPP)).

Table 1: Assessment of Mandatory Criteria and Proposal Preparation Instructions

The mandatory criteria assessment example in Table 2 is essentially the same as for a Pink Review.


Table 2: Mandatory Assessment Example

Rated Criteria Assessment

The rated criteria assessment regime in Table 3 lets Red Reviewers summarize their assessment of each rated criteria in numerical format. By multiplying the summary result against the maximum possible score for each criterion (and then divide by 10), the Red Team can offer an informed estimate of how well each criterion will score in the actual evaluation.


Table 3: Assessment of Rated Criteria and Proposal Preparation Instructions

Note that some responses intentionally score less than the maximum points allowed. When this occurs, the response should make that situation clear to avoid confusion among the evaluators. For example, if a response does not intend to address the rated requirement, the response should state simply and clearly that the bidder does not intend to fully meet this requirement (or perhaps not at all).  

Writing Assessment

In addition to the above evaluation criteria assessments, the Red Team also addresses four of the Seven C’s. The evaluation criteria assessments already address three of the elements (Complete, Compliant, and Correct). The remaining C’s include:


  • Are sentences easy to read?
  • Is the narrative easy to follow?
  • Is the document structured logically and plainly?
  • Are responses to requirements easy to find?
  • Does the writing style avoid the passive voice and the passive voice without the actor? (see page 306 of Win Big The EXA Way)


  • Is the writing plain, clear, and unambiguous?
  • Is the writing style direct?
  • Is the vocabulary, sentence structure, and voice appropriate for the intended audience?


  • Will this response score better than the competitors?


  • Does the narrative come across as believable and credible?
  • Do the authors support statements with facts?
  • Does each major section conclude with a convincing benefit statement? (See page 315of Win Big The EXA Way) 

The writing assessment should be a simple evaluation, such as High, Medium, Low, or some other approach. Avoid complex or detailed ratings for the writing assessment in the table, but include detailed comments in the reviewed document itself, as well as in the overall summary, identifying ways to improve the writing assessment.


Table 4 shows an example of a Red Team assessment of the rated criteria and writing.


Table 4: Rated Criteria Assessment Example

As discussed in Win Big The EXA Way, the Red Team should consider itself a coach, not a critic. In its reports and face-to-face meetings, the Red Team members should remain sensitive to the fact that many proposal writers may not have the skills, training, and experience to produce high-level, mature proposal documentation. The members should guide (not criticize) the writers to enhance the overall quality and competitiveness of the proposal documents.

Leadership Report

The Red Team should produce a short report for the benefit of the Proposal Leader and Capture Leader. Unlike the reports for the authors, the Leadership Report should be brutally frank and direct. It should provide an unvarnished assessment of the effectiveness of the leadership team’s approach and the resulting quality and competitiveness of the proposal documents.

Executive Report

In addition to the above assessments and reports, the RedReview should provide a high-level report that will help the senior leadership gauge the capture team’s progress and effectiveness. These general observations identify the Red Team’s top findings, and present options and recommendations the executive team should consider correct issues related to the proposed strategy, solution, and bid document.

***Disclaimer: The information presented in this supplement is for information purposes only. It is not intended, and may not be used, as legal or business advice. The author makes no representations of warranty, accuracy, or fit for purpose of the information herein. Use at your own risk.