The top 8 items to include in a request for proposal
Writing an RFP can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
So you’ve been asked to write a request for proposal (RFP). To anyone who has not written an RFP, the process can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.
An RFP is a document used to find the right vendor to solve a problem. Most often, an RFP is issued when you have a new need but do not have the internal resources to meet that need. A new website, a search engine optimization (SEO) project, a print publication—all might involve an RFP. The vendor submits a proposal for the work, and multiple proposals are compared to evaluate vendor capabilities.
Top 8 items to include in your RFP
- Project overview: Define your goals and the intent of the project.
- Company background: Describe your organization and your role. Communicating company values and culture will ensure that you are more likely to find a vendor that’s a good fit for your goals and processes.
- Goals of project: State the project goals clearly the specific challenges you are trying to solve and why your current solution isn’t working. Don’t forget to describe what success looks like.
- Project scope: What are you looking to achieve? Here’s where you want to provide the most detail about your project. This should be the most thorough part of your RFP. A well-defined scope will ensure more accurate budget quotes.
- Deliverable schedule: Create a realistic timeline for deliverables, as well as for receiving and evaluating proposals. Include proposal deadline, evaluation timing, a selection date, a date to notify vendors that were not selected and a completion date for the entire project.
- Possible roadblocks: Make vendors aware of any potential obstacles they may encounter during the project implementation. These can be anything from lack of resources to multiple stakeholders with different goals. This can help eliminate bidders who are not up to the challenge.
- Estimated budget: Providing a budget will help you avoid receiving highly quoted proposals. Be sure to note if there’s any room for negotiation.
- What you’re looking for: This outlines the criteria you will use to evaluate proposals. Does the proposal need to be submitted in a particular format, such as Microsoft Word or PDF? Does it require hand delivery, or can it be submitted via email?
Some additional items you might ask the vendor to include in the proposal are:
- Examples of similarly complex projects to assess technical capability.
- Client references to assess credibility.
- Project timeline with major tasks and milestones or project budget by line item to assess their processes.
So this still sounds a bit overwhelming, right? Consider creating an RFP when you don’t have a need. In other words, create a library of questions, sections and templates that will accelerate your process when it comes time to create an RFP for your next project.
Above all, provide clear expectations and transparency whenever possible to make sure you get the information needed to evaluate vendor fitness for your project.