Time spent doing an RFP review and in preparing a good quality and comprehensive Request for Proposal document will yield positive results and eliminate wasted time in the sourcing process. It should be used for high value sourcing projects with a medium to long time frame, the impact on the organization is moderate to high and the types of possible solutions are many and varied.
In an RFP review we should see five key sections. These are
This first section must be used to introduce your Company and your industry and provide details of the reason for the Request for Proposal. You need to state what you hope to achieve by this process and approximately, by when. Key dates must be included especially the due date for submissions.
Project scope and requirements
This section takes the most preparation time. The project definition is fairly easy to describe to a supplier or contractor but defining the detailed scope of work requires collaboration with many internal users. An RFP is often used to source essential services where numerical details of what, where, when and how many? need to be supplied.
In an RFP review of the process we would ensure that we have explained clearly how each activity will work through from sending out the RFP to awarding the contract. There may be many steps in the process and suppliers need to understand how to manage this. There may be a compulsory briefing meeting, a face to face sales presentation required after closing date, revising of quotes and negotiations on price and contract clauses.
Here we need to be clear about how long the whole process may take without making a definite date commitment. To be fair to bidders, proposals for complex systems or services should allow up to 4 weeks for submissions. Long RFPs with complicated and detailed responses need time or the quality of the bid will suffer. This is also where you can state where and when you will notify the successful bidder and expected start date of the project.
Pricing is a main component in the RFP review process. The price offers for each of the proposed solutions need to be easily comparable. You need to provide a pricing template in a structured format which states exactly how to present pricing and cost data. It should be set up in such a way that price offers can be compared from several respondents side by side.
When doing an RFP review these five elements need to be covered, not in any particular order. Preparation is key to a successful RFP, short cuts will provide poor and fewer responses and the process may have to be repeated.