……………………………………………….Expertise in .NET Technologies

How to Write a Request for Proposal (RFP)

Posted by Ravi Varma Thumati on May 6, 2009

Learning how to write an RFP can ensure your project’s success by eliminating inferior vendors before the project begins.

The first thing to address when Learning how to write an RFP is to understand that there is no standardized or absolute format for an RFP. Your RFP should be structured in a manner that best conveys all aspects of your project to potential vendors.

Common elements of an RFP include the following:

  • Company Background
  • Project Description
  • Design Requirements
  • Technical and Infrastructure Requirements
  • Functional Requirements
  • Estimated Project Duration
  • Assumptions and Agreements
  • Submission Information
  • For Additional Information or Clarification
  • Basis for Award of Contract
  • Anticipated Selection Schedule

Begin by converting your project notes and scribbles into formal sentences that are concise and descriptive. Avoid industry jargon and unnecessary adjectives as much as possible. This will allow you to clearly outline your project to the potential vendors.

The most important elements of the RFP are the requirements sections. Be as descriptive and detailed as you can in these sections. The requirements portion of the RFP holds close to 2/3rd’s the information that will determine the estimated cost of your project and should be well thought out by all stakeholders in your project. RFP’s that have vague requirements often result in wasted interview time and high cost estimates to compensate for the unknown.

After filling in the basic elements of the RFP template, have several individuals who will be participating in the project review the RFP. The goal of this revision process is to ensure that each individual is getting a relatively equal understanding of the project. If you find inconsistencies, be sure to fill the gaps by adding any other elements to the RFP that you feel are necessary to thoroughly outline your project.

Learning how to write an RFP can be time consuming. However, the benefits you and your organization will reap make this an essential tool for everyone.

Request for Proposal (RFP) Template

Project Title

Company Background

[Insert a concise paragraph outlining your company’s background. 4-5 sentences are typical for a small or medium- sized company.]

Project Description

[Insert a summary of your project, including the problem/opportunity, goals/objectives, and any information that will help the vendors understand the need of the project. Be sure not to outline specific requirements in this section. A small project may consist of 8-10 sentence’s while a larger project could be several pages.]

Design Requirements

[Insert an outline of any requirements that pertain to the design of the project. This could vary depending on the type of project. For example, a web site or marketing related project may include information regarding branding standards or a style guide. Where as an IT project may include information pertaining to how the project deliverable will operate. Length varies widely based on the type of project.]

Technical and Infrastructure Requirements

[Insert any technical or infrastructure related requirements, such as a server, database configuration. Length varies widely based on the type of project.]

Functional Requirements

[Insert an outline of all the functionality you would like your project to have with a short description. For example, an e-commerce project may include a catalog, shopping cart, order history and a related products page. Length varies widely based on the type of project.]

Estimated Project Duration

[Insert the estimated duration of the project or the required completion date.]

Assumptions and Agreements

[Insert a list of any assumptions or agreements the vendors must meet. For example, you may want to indicate that bids cannot exceed a certain amount, that the proposals will not be returned, or that you reserve the right to dismiss any proposal for any reason. Length varies widely based on the type of project.]

Submission Information

[Insert the deadline for submission and the address to submit the proposal to.]

For Additional Information or Clarification

[Insert a list of contacts that are available to clarify any questions regarding the RFP. It is not uncommon to have separate contacts for specific disciplines. For example, one contact for technical questions and another for marketing questions.]

Basis for Award of Contract

[Insert a short paragraph or list that outlines your evaluation criteria. It is not uncommon to list the weight that each criterion holds in relation to the others.]

Anticipated Selection Schedule

[Insert the schedule for your selection process.]

The Request for Proposal (RFP) Process

Learning the RFP process is an essential discipline that everyone in the business community should master. An effective RFP can help you:

  • Eliminate inferior vendors
  • Formalize your problem or opportunity
  • Reduce project cost

There is no perfect method for selecting a vendor. However, the typical RFP process consists of the following steps:

1. Determine Your Evaluation Criteria

To start the RFP process, determine what criterion you are going to evaluate the vendors proposals on and establish the weight each criterion will hold in relation to the others. Common criterion includes experience, team strength, project understanding, differential advantage, and price. Evaluations based on established criterion will help to eliminate any situational bias that may occur.

2. Vendor Research

Next, select a series of possible vendors and form a list with their contact information. Your list can consist of any number of vendors, depending on the amount of time you want to dedicate to the RFP process. Try to diversify your list in the areas of price, expertise and any other factors you feel are important.

3. Request for Information (RFI)

The next step, which is commonly forgotten, is to submit a request for information (RFI). The responses you receive will allow you to eliminate all obvious inferior vendors. Following this simple step can save hours of evaluation time and help you to initially narrow your vendor search.

4. Write the RFP and Send to Vendors

Once you have eliminated the inferior vendors, you write an RFP and send it to those who remain on your list. By this step, you typically have eliminated 50% of the vendors from your original list.

5. Review the Proposals

After receiving all the proposals, you will want to holistically evaluate each proposal based on your evaluation criteria. Once your evaluations are complete, you will want to eliminate the bottom 25% from your vendor list.

6. Interview Vendors

The most time consuming and important step in the RFP process is the interview. Once you have narrowed the search, develop a standardized interview outline. This will allow you to evaluate each vendor equally and, ultimately, help you choose the vendor that will best fit your project and organization.

7. Select Your Vendor

If the RFP process went smoothly, the last step of selecting a vendor should be narrowed to only a few lucky companies. If you remain undecided, it is not uncommon to request a final interview, in which another project stakeholder evaluates the vendors independently.


One Response to “How to Write a Request for Proposal (RFP)”

  1. Many thanks for posting this, It?s simply what I used to be researching for on bing. I?d a lot relatively hear opinions from a person, barely than a company web page, that?s why I like blogs so significantly. Many thanks!

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