Preparing and responding to RFPs can be one of the more stressful tasks that both the buyer and seller experience. Unlike a Tender or Quote method of procurement, the RFP solicitation form is used due to the often complex nature of the project including:
- finding the most cost effective solution (not just the lowest price as in a tender bid or quote)
- establishing real and measurable objectives (outcomes) and deliverables
- determining the mandatory and preferable vendor qualifications and the proposal evaluation criteria (using a point scoring system), and
- costing rationale.
RFPs do not need to be excessively long as the proposal response will likely be as long or longer. In terms of certain project specifications, one can appreciate that some of these can be long. However, the actual project requirements, which could be referred to as the Statement of Requirement (SOR – main part of the RFP) must be clear and concise.
The proposal has to address all of the issues, concerns and requirements of the RFP in such a way that encourages the reader and evaluator to conclude that this proposal has the best overall solution or at least the best preliminary project scope of work, the qualified project team and an acceptable budget/price.
Planning, preparing and writing effective RFPs and Proposals should not exhaust both parties to the degree that more energy and effort is used in the solicitation and response than in the performance of the actual work requested. As well, excessive use of “templates” and / or boilerplates removes people from objective thinking to “filling in the blanks”. Some templates or boilerplates do provide guidelines to assist in planning, especially for RFPs. However, caution must be exercised to ensure that “tunnel-vision” is left out of the planning process.
Stevens Consulting provides prescriptions through proactive and synergistic coaching methods that allow individuals and organizations to produce effective, well-planned and written RFPs including:
- Emphasis on both the buyer’s and seller’s perspectives
- Objective thinking and rationalization, emphasizing easy to read, rather than over-complicated documents
- Best practices in use of project planning, implementation and performance measurement and evaluation
- Preparing / Defining Statements of the Requirement (SOR) and Scope of Work (SOW) / Project Definition / Preliminary Project Plan
- Establishing contractor evaluation criteria, scoring methods and the evaluation process
- Establishing writing and submission guidelines formats and language (both RFPs and Proposals)
- Presentation requirements and process, if required
- Proposal feedback/debriefing