request for proposal - rfp

When your organization has a problem but doesn’t have a solution, they ask for help from third parties. At this point, Request for Proposal (RFP) helps them out.

In this document, the organization explains the problem, and the vendors have to submit their best solution.

RFP is different from RFQ. With RFP, buyers have a problem and request solutions from vendors, but in the case of RFQ, they look for cost estimations.

Let’s dive deeper.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

A Request for Proposal is a project document that organizations use to outline requirements for a specific project. This helps them get proposals from contractors, and they can select the best offer.

In the proposal, vendors explain how their offering will help solve buyers’ needs.

The RFP contains the following details:

  • Guidelines on what in the proposal it should contain. 
  • Summary and background of the problems the buyer has.
  • Project purpose and description.
  • Problem details.
  • Product description.
  • The project scope of work.
  • RFP timeline.
  • Project timelines.
  • Budget.
  • Bidder qualifications.
  • Proposal evaluation criteria.
  • Performance measures.
  • Ideas, skills, and training.

RFP Creation Process

An RFP creation process involves the following steps:

  1. Collecting RFP Requirements
  2. Draft RFP
  3. Receive Proposals and Initial Evaluation
  4. Follow Up with Contractors
  5. Final Selection and Awarding the Contract

#1. Collecting RFP Requirements

This is the most important part of RFP creation. Here, you introduce yourself to the prospective sellers, providing them with the problem they are supposed to solve. Meet with your relevant stakeholders and find their needs and expectations. Ask for their long-term goals.

Decide the evaluation criteria for the proposals and the scoring process for responses. Determine what scoring model will be used and the crucial parameters.

Make this section as detailed as possible so they can understand the problem and offer their best proposal.

#2. Draft RFP

Every organization has templates for RFP; you have to fill in your requirements. 

Provide a clear explanation of the problem and ask for answers to your questions.

You can ask: 

  • If they offer a free demo of their product or service, you can test them out.
  • How they will implement the solution and if they have done similar jobs in the past.
  • If they provide training, knowledge-base, maintenance, and after-sales support.
  • If they can provide references as well.

#3. Receive Proposals and Initial Evaluation

Once you receive the proposal, you will evaluate it for completeness and see if it fulfills the mandatory requirements.

If you have mentioned the mandatory requirements in the RFP, for example, the vendor must have five years of experience in the same field or have certain technology, verify it. You can immediately disqualify a vendor for not meeting mandatory criteria.

You will shortlist the qualified vendors and move on to the next round.

#4. Follow up with Qualified Vendors

Now you will conduct an in-depth review and final evaluation. You will use a scoring model to rank the vendors.

You can have meetings or sessions with them to understand their offerings.

This time, negotiation becomes tough and specific. It is an opportunity for the vendor to differentiate their offering, demonstrate how it is unique, and help you solve your problem.

#5. Final Selection and Awarding the Contract

You now understand each proposal better and can decide on the winner using the scoring model. 

You can prepare comparison sheets for each vendor and send them to relevant stakeholders for review.

Once the final review is complete and you have selected the winner, you can inform the successful vendor to proceed further.

After awarding the contract, your RFP will be closed, and the procurement contract will be generated.

RFP Example

Below is an example of an RFP.

request for proposal

Why Do You Need RFP? 

RFP makes it easier for a buyer and seller to build a long-term relationship. 

Project managers use RFP to look for proposed solutions and meet their goals. They can compare different solutions from sellers for the problems they have already identified and choose the best possible solution.

RFP is used for winning the contract and is typically used in the project’s planning phase, where the design is done at a high level, and the organization is looking for an efficient solution.

The procurement department handles the RFP process in a big organization, but sometimes the project management has resources to manage in strong matrix organizations. It depends on the organizational structure.

Once the proposals are received, the relevant stakeholder will evaluate different responses with potential solutions and technologies, finalize the seller, and negotiate the costs and timelines before signing the contract.

Solutions for Better Procurement

  • The buyer must collaborate with relevant stakeholders to draft the proposal.
  • Sellers have to adopt the buyer’s mindset to consider their needs, business goals, and emotions.
  • Set realistic timelines as per criticality, skill set, and type of the contract.
  • Suppliers have to understand the technical, functional, and business needs completely.
  • The supplier has to propose cutting-edge solutions.
  • Suppliers have to consider resource management data by referring to similar previous projects.

Conclusion

Many organizations use RFP to launch their projects. This document explains the problem and provides details on the bidding process and other terms and conditions. 

RFP helps organizations get responses from suppliers for their queries. It helps buyers solve problems and have a long-term relationship with the vendor, which helps them grow together. For a better RFP, ensure all requirements are clearly mentioned and that the award selection criteria use objective parameters.

Are you involved with creating a Request for Proposal? If yes, please share your experiences through the comments section.