The Technical Edit– the Difference is in the Details

proposal management Sep 27, 2021

by Jennifer Wineinger and Kiley Stewart

Our expert technical editors Jennifer Wineinger and Kiley Stewart shed some light on why even experienced teams can benefit from a Technical Edit.

You and your team of ace writers have been cranking on the draft proposal. You’ve done your storyboards, had your solutioning sessions, and developed plenty of explanations to fill in the carefully crafted outline. Day after day you follow the steps to Review & Revise, rereading your draft, adding a little more evidence, and polishing the language to be more precise. You haven’t done a formal technical edit, but you are a pretty good writer and you’ve looked at this document so many times you’re sure you’ve caught everything. So, you’re ready, right?

Even if you are an experienced writer, your proposal could be at risk. How could that be? The truth is, a “well-written” proposal is a lot more than grammatically correct, spell-checked volumes. Without an unbiased, meticulous review by an independent technical editor, there are several missteps that could derail your bid and cost you the win. Below, we describe some of the most common writing pitfalls that teams encounter.

  1. Believing your story is complete. You read the solicitation at the start, and then you started writing. You read the solicitation again and updated what you had written. Maybe you got an amendment, or the government answered questions, or you just got into a good rhythm of writing and revising. Regardless, by the time you get to a review, you have read, reread, and then re-re-read your words so many times that you may fail to see the gaps. That’s because your memory becomes distorted over time, especially as you add and remove content, and you stop reading as closely (because you’ve already read it 100 times, right?) You don’t see places where proof or metrics are lacking. While an independent editor may not know your company’s strengths as well as your team, they can offer valuable insight on how your proposal reads—where you are really highlighting your skills and team and where you aren’t. They can point out unsubstantiated claims and provide feedback on whether your technical solution makes sense or is just a bunch of affirmations and industry jargon. They can recommend adjustments that create clarity for an evaluator who isn’t familiar with your team, your history, or your capabilities.
  2. Lack of structural integrity. If you started this proposal by opening your last proposal and using the “Save As” trick, then you could have errors and inconsistencies baked into your new proposal without realizing it. Even if you updated your template to address the requirements (or even if it was a winning response last time), what worked for one customer’s evaluation board may not work for the next one. Here’s something that doesn’t change: evaluators prefer proposals that are easy to read and easy to grade. An independent technical editor can ensure that your proposal (whether you built it from a new template, a recycled template, or some hybrid of the two) addresses the solicitation’s requirements to the exact letter, with easy-to-find responses. Writing is hard! When you’re trying to get content down on paper, the instructions can become secondary. Independent tech editors will guarantee you do not have any font, style, spacing, graphics, or special requirements errors that may eliminate you from the competition. (Tip: Stop fighting with Word and let us handle the formatting and style of your proposal.)
  3. Proposal weariness. Sometimes, you spend months preparing for a proposal. By the time a review rolls around, you’ve been through so many drafts and iterations that you may have inadvertently drifted away from the original requirement you were trying to address or point you were trying to make. Maybe you just went through a review and came away from it with several changes, corrections, and not-so-optional recommendations you have to incorporate. Or maybe, and perhaps most likely, you’ve been fitting the proposal into your “free” time, which is probably late nights (after a full workday), weekends, or during sporadic schedule gaps here and there. If this describes you, an independent technical editor can help revive your team by not only bringing fresh energy to the effort but also giving your team a break from the document.
  4. Consistently inconsistent. Proposals are a team effort, right? So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a document with multiple authors will sound like it’s been written by, well... Multiple authors. Each writer has their own style and preferences, and even minor differences can stand out when you read the whole proposal from top to bottom. Using passive voice, switching between past/present/future tense, duplicating acronyms or explanations, varying the sentence structure, and switching between first-person and third person are all common seams that might interrupt an evaluator’s flow as they read the proposal. An independent editor can help “one voice” the entire proposal by standardizing the style and tone throughout the document.

Bottom line: Even experienced writers and teams can benefit from an independent technical edit that checks for more than just spelling and grammar. With fresh eyes and a ton of experience (we really mean a ton— we read, write, and edit proposals every day), our team of professionals will revive your proposal effort by focusing your content and elevating your writing so that your proposal is a breakout in the solicitation competition.

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