Writing an RFP or request for proposal can be a daunting task. At its core, it seems simple enough- you have a problem and you want vendors to offer their solution. Giving prospective vendors a good look into your company, how you work, and what you need from them isn’t easy, however. Bringing clarity must be balanced with seeking knowledge. This fine line has to be walked after scouring the internet for a list of vendors who you think will suit your needs.
This process can take a long time for a first timer and that might be time your company does not have to spare. A well-executed RFP can save time and money in the long run. If you think through what you would want to know as a vendor while creating your RFP, you will have much more success. These best practices are easy to follow and will get you well on your way to an excellent RFP.
- Focus on Format
Be clear and concise. Vendors expect RFPs to be easy to evaluate and clear to read. The organization can also make a difference. Add cover pages and tables of contents for ease. Being organized with your format will also help you include all of the information you need to, and not leave anything out.
- What’s the Problem?
Go into detail. This problem you are trying to fix could be quite complicated. The solution or service proposed could be different if the problem is not given detail. The vendors need to know where gaps exist so they can offer solutions. Make sure you stick to the formatting best practice and balance being as concise as possible.
- How can vendors Return Information?
Include when and where to return the proposal along with the desired format. A standard format will make it easier on you as you look through multiple proposals. You can include this information in your introduction. Make sure to also include the date in which you want the proposals returned and how you will evaluate them.
- Give Vendors a Point of Contact
Give vendors an internal contact to come to with questions. No matter how clear you are, they will likely have questions. Don’t view this as a bad thing, however, because you may find a vendor who is exceptionally easy to communicate with or one who is impossible to communicate with. When it comes down to making a decision, this could be something to keep in mind. Answering their questions will also ensure the proposal you receive doesn’t miss the mark.
- Give Background Information
Adding context gives vendors so much more clarity. You will have far fewer back and forth communications while they compile the proposal when background information is provided. This also allows vendors to be specific on how their service or solution meets the needs of your project and company to a tee.
- Offer a Project Scope and Desired Timeline
You may find this steps will weed out some companies who cannot meet a deadline or do not have a large enough staff to take on the scope of your project. This will help save time for you and the vendors. Serious vendors are the only ones you need to have return on your RFP. It is important to be clear and realistic about your scope and timeline. Don’t downplay the size of a huge project and don’t try to get a huge project done in no time flat.