RFP format and content

Your Request for Proposal structure (RFP format) can be the basis for the success or failure of a sourcing project. Preparation and research into the supply market is important prior to drafting but so are the technical content and the order in which information and questions are presented.

There is not one perfect RFP template. The RFP format below may have to be adapted to cater for the type and size of project and for different commodities and services. An RFP for I.T. hardware and software will differ in level of detail from one for travel services or printing.

A common RFP format

  • Purpose statement
    Include the general scope, nature, specifications, and purpose of goods, products, and services to be acquired. This will enable the supplier to decide whether to bid or not. Attach an Intention-to-bid/no-bid letter.
  • Company Information
    Present a brief overview of your organization and its operations including a Company profile to help the supplier understand your business and the industry. Provide dimensions, no. of divisions, no. of staff, locations and customer base. Include contact details of those people handling this RFP including name, title and the various ways of contacting them.
  • Timeline
    In this RFP format the timeline is given early in the document as this topic is very important to the supplier. Clearly state the timeline for every step : the dates and deadlines for submitting the letter of intent, sending questions, the pre-proposal conference and vital, the closing date for bids.
  • Scope of Work and Standards
    Specify the different project phases broken down by objectives, proposed timeline, and performance and quality standards. Acceptance criteria should be included here as well as non-performance remedies.
  • Deliverables
    Provide a list of all outputs required including products, services, reports, and plans that will be delivered to your organization and propose a delivery schedule of where and when for each.
  • Contract Terms and Conditions
    Specify here your required legal and compliance clauses as well as the proposed length of the contract and projected start date. All financial arrangements must be included here : payment terms and schedule, incentives and penalties.
  • Evaluation and Award Process
    In this RFP format it is proposed that you outline the general procedure and criteria used to evaluate and rank proposals, but not the weightings. Explain the next steps you envisage, e.g. negotiations, RFQ, and what will influence the final selection decision.
  • Appendices
    Additional information for the supplier that will assist in preparing a good quality bid should be attached. The more information you can supply the better the quality and quantity of responses.


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