Table of Contents
- What Is An RFP?
- When And Why Do You Need to Issue an RFP?
- Why Is It Necessary To Effectively Write An RFP?
- How To Write An RFP That Will Get A Response
- Takeaway Tips To Write An Effective RFP
- Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing An RFP
- Top Q&As Asked While Writing An RFP
- Are You Ready to Write Your RFP?
What Is An RFP?
RFP is a document presented to announce new projects, ask for bids and give out project details to vendors or interested parties. In simple words, it is a means you use to ask vendors if and how they can support your project or provide a solution to your problem. A good RFP allows you to:
Issuing an RPF is a multi-step and complex process. However, it is important to draft it in a manner that is professional, accurate, and fair or it may cost you your reputation and more.
When and Why Do You Need to Issue an RFP?
First, let us consider when you need to issue an RFP. You may decide to issue an RFP when you have a need that cannot be addressed internally. It is an effective way to connect with vendors or service providers to meet that need.
However, issuing an RFP should be a well-thought-out process. It is important to determine if it is really necessary to issue an RFP or if you can manage with a request for a quotation. Although RFP is beneficial and necessary for complex, specialized projects, it may not be necessary for a simple, straightforward project.
One key reason why organizations must create an RFP is to gauge how well your vendors understand your project. It helps government agencies and non-profit organizations ensure transparency. It also encourages organizations to create benchmarks to measure project success.
Why Is It Necessary To Effectively Write An RFP?
An effective RFP is as concise as possible, highly customized, clear, and thoughtful. It offers helpful contextual information to vendors while asking the right questions. However, when you write a high-quality RFP, you will receive proposals that are likewise of high quality. A poorly written RFP may signal a red flag to your vendors making them feel that it is really not worth their time.
The key to writing an effective RFP that can get a response is to strike a balance between too little and too much information, and that is a hard balance to strike. If you offer too little information, you may get a proposal that misses the mark and if you offer too much information, vendors may get discouraged from responding to your RFP. This makes it important to analyze your specific needs and decide how much detail you need to provide so that your RFP will get a response.
How To Write An RFP That Will Get A Response
Once you decide to issue an RFP, begin the multi-step RFP process. Though each organization may have its own way of doing things, you can typically expect that the RFP process will follow five steps. However, you can change the basic flow to suit your needs, company size, and industry type.
1 Form a team
First, you need to decide on a team. This team should include a person in charge, key stakeholders, a person who can research and draft the RFP, an expert to review the RFP, and a project manager to ensure everything runs smoothly and on time.
Thereafter, you can gather the team to discuss your business goals, identify problems, create a budget, and set a timeline. While setting the timeline make sure you allot sufficient time for research, drafting, and evaluation. Your initial assessment must include the assessment of the companies who will receive your final RFP to ensure they match your requirements.
2 Draft the RFP
Now that your team is ready and all the necessary research is done, it’s time to draft an RFP. This draft must include all that relevant project information. Anticipate the questions your potential vendor may ask and include the answers for those in the draft. If all in the team are satisfied with the draft, send it to an expert for review. Once you review the feedback, incorporate those suggestions and then issue the final RFP.
Here is how you can write an effective RFP:
RFPs require a great deal of planning. During the research, it is easy to get distracted by all the information gathered. To keep your focus, prepare a basic outline of how your document must look and what points you want to include in it.
To ensure you have relevant information, continue to review and reevaluate all areas of your document. Remember, the quality of your RFP will either help you attract the right vendor or steer them away from you. To ensure you don’t miss out any critical points in the RFP, take notes during all team meetings. Encourage everyone to share ideas, answer all questions raised during these discussions, and make note of all the relevant points.
RFPs are formal documents. Keep it precise and clear while explaining exactly what your requirements are and what information you must provide your potential vendor. To that end, you must communicate your needs with utmost clarity. For clarity, use subheadings and bullet points. Though each company may have its own way of writing an RFP, here is the basic structure you may follow:
3 Method of distribution
Share the RFP with potential bidders or vendors. But how you share it with them is entirely up to you. You could share it by creating a web page or via email. However, once you begin receiving responses, organize them into a separate folder so that they are not lost among other email threads.
4 Sort and select
Sort through the responses to select a group of bidders that best fit your needs. After the selection, evaluate each of the bidders based on the selected scoring method. This will help you decide on two or three best-matched bidders with whom you can now negotiate. Before finalizing a vendor, evaluate their strengths and understand why they are better than their competitors.
5 Final analysis before signing
Do not hesitate to request a demo or in-person meeting with potential vendors. Research the vendor thoroughly before you negotiate the budget and timeline. Once you negotiate, you can ask them to submit the final offer. Then select the one that best suits your needs and sign the contract. Make sure you inform the other vendors that they are not selected so they do not wait in expectation.
Takeaway Tips To Write An Effective RFP
An RFP can provide major gains for your company as long as you put in the necessary time, research and effort. Here are a few tips:
Brainstorm with stakeholders
To find the best solution, you need to define and understand the problem. Start by brainstorming with stakeholders to categorize functionality as must-have, nice to have, or outside the scope.
Bring Subject Matter Experts early
Create a library of questions
Strive for transparency
Customize and optimize
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing An RFP
A bad RFP wastes everyone’s time and causes confusion. Worst of all, you may be stuck with the wrong vendor. Avoiding these three commonly made mistakes can help you get closer to achieving your desired results.
Top Q&As Asked While Writing An RFP
RFP requirements are important, but when buying an intangible like an IT solution, it becomes absolutely critical. This is why your team must have a clear idea of how to go about documenting your needs. Here are some steps to follow:
- >> Start by writing down each step of your current business process. Doing so can also help update your internal controls risk assessments.
- >> Model your business process graphically and gather copies of any inputs (forms) and outputs (reports).
- >> Consider what should be improved: speed, process, and so on.
- >> Transform the steps into requirements.
- >> Consider the needs documented in other organizations in your industry.
Once vendors are scored based on their response to the RFP, an internal review is generally made and further interviews or checks can be made to come to a final decision. Once this is done, a Statement of Work (SOW) must be drafted keeping the RFP requirements in mind. The SOW is an important process as it details the vendor-issuer relationship clearly. Detailing the review process along with the performance metrics used for the RFP in the SOW and contract will help you establish the exact requirements and expectations from your vendor.
The deadline indicates the date by which the vendors must submit their responses. Establish a list of requirements and deadlines that must be satisfied and include what the vendors should provide in their offers. The deadline should take into account the date by which the project is meant to begin and give sufficient time for evaluation and decision-making. Publish the deadline in the RFP itself. The deadline is usually set for four to six weeks from the day of release.
An RFP is a Request for Proposal. It announces a specific project that is planned and solicits capable vendors who can get the job done. On the other hand, an RFQ is a Request for Quotation. It is a solicitation sent to several vendors requesting them to bid for a contract to supply a specific product or service. It specifies the quality and quantity, and the deadline required by the organization.
Are You Ready to Write Your RFP?
Writing an effective RFP might seem overwhelming but following the tips in this guide and using the right platform to issue it can make it the most powerful sourcing tool you’ll find.
So create a powerful RFP and share it with us now! Fingent is an ISO 27001:2013 certified global software development company, with a client base and technological expertise spanning across 4 continents. We can give you the reach and the acceleration you need to lead your company to greater success.
If you still think that writing an RFP is a complicated and time consuming process, then choose our consultation service. Fingent can help you create and customize your RFP for a streamlined RFP Process!