How to write an RFP?

What is an RFP?

A request for proposal (RFP) is basically a publication of detailed requirements by a prospective buyer in order to receive vendor offerings.

In order for the requester to evaluate and compare all offers in a fair, easier, and faster manner, this publication is usually a formal document advising and guiding the prospective contractor through the whole procurement process (solicitation, selection, and award). To do so, the RFP document describes all the information surrounding the project, among other things:

  1. what is the solicitation process (mandatory or optional bidders' conference, due dates for proposal submission or withdrawal)
  2. what is the selection process (timeline, proposal format, evaluation method, criteria, and weights);
  3. what is the award process (estimated or exact date of award, or deadline, contract, terms and conditions);
  4. who to contact regarding the project itself, the contract, the solicitation process, the selection process, and the award process.

Usually dedicated to software evaluation, comparison, and selection, a request for proposal  may be issued to select any kind of products and services. RFP publication is an efficient tool to gather solution capabilities, which are then put into a decision matrix allowing the selection of the solution that best fits the requirements.

Writing a Request for Proposal or RFP

It is highly recommended that you to read the suggestions below in order to write a proper and successful RFP.

  1. Seems obvious but do not handwrite your RFP. Use templates and samples provided in your FREE RFP Toolkit, 2012 Edition to create your own professional RFP document. Indeed, using an a template and sample of an RFP will save you time. So do not hesitate to write your RFP from a template.
  2. Identify all the key sections of an RFP you should include by simply answering each and any of the questions Why? Who? What? How? and When? as shown below:
    1. WHY?
      Why does your organization need to buy a new solution?
      Answering this question allows you to create the section called Statement of Purpose.
    2. WHO?
      Provide a brief description of your organization. Should you have somewhere a template -we call boilerplate such reusable information- describing your organization, use it but don't forget to remove obsolete information and add new information relevant to your project.
      This information will become the Background information.
    3. WHAT?
      What is the nature of your project?
      What are the needs?
      What are the expected outcomes?
      Answering these questions allows you to complete the following sections:
      • Scope of Work
      • Outcome and Performance Standards
      • Deliverables
    4. HOW?
      What is the contract?
      What kind of information and documents do you expect to receive from providers?
      How will proposals be evaluated and the best matching solution selected?
      This information will be used for the sections:
      • Term of Contract
      • Payments, Incentives, and Penalties
      • Contractual Terms and Conditions
      • Requirements for Proposal Preparation
      • Evaluation and Award Process
    5. WHEN?
      When to submit questions, proposal?
      When the decision will be taken?
      What is the whole selection process timeframe?
      Who are the people responsible for evaluating proposals? For taking the final decision?
      Answering these questions allows you to populate both sections Process Schedule, and Points of contact for future correspondence.
  3. Statement of Purpose
    Describe the extent of products and services your organization is looking for, as well as, the overall objectives of the contract.
  4. Background Information
    Present a brief overview of your organization and its operations, using statistics, customer demographics, and psychographics. State your strengths and weaknesses honestly. Don't forget to include comprehensive information on the people who will handle future correspondence.
  5. Scope of Work
    Enumerate the specific duties to be performed by the provider and the expected outcomes. Include a detailed listing of responsibilities, particularly when sub-contractors are involved.
  6. Outcome and Performance Standards
    Specify the outcome targets, minimal performance standards expected from the contractor, and methods for monitoring performance and process for implementing corrective actions.
  7. Deliverables
    Provide a list of all products, reports, and plans that will be delivered to your organization and propose a delivery schedule.
  8. Term of Contract
    Specify length, start date and end date of the contract, and the options for renewal.
  9. Payments, Incentives, and Penalties
    List all the terms of payment for adequate performance. Highlight the basis for incentives for superior performance and penalties for inadequate performance or lack of compliance.
  10. Contractual Terms and Conditions
    Attach standard contracting forms, certifications, and assurances. You may write and include requirements specific to this particular contract.
  11. Requirements for Proposal Preparation
    A consistent structure in terms of content, information, and documents types simplifies things for the people evaluating the proposals. Therefore, you should request a particular structure for the proposal and provide an exhaustive list of documents you want to receive.
  12. Evaluation and Award Process
    Lay down the procedures and criteria used for evaluating proposals and for making the final contract award.
  13. Process Schedule
    Clearly and concisely present the timeline for the steps leading to the final decision, such as the dates for submitting the letter of intent, sending questions, attending the pre-proposal conference, submitting the proposal, etc.
  14. Contacts
    Include a complete list of people to contact for information on the RFP, or with any other questions. Incorporate their name, title, responsibilities, and the various ways of contacting them into this list.
  15. Do not forget to send your RFP via certified mail.
  16. Since things sometimes get a little more complicated than usual, remember to consult a lawyer for further information before doing anything.

Learn tips on how to write a professional, very appealing RFP from the RFP template provided in your FREE RFP Toolkit, 2012 Edition and let providers propose creative, relevant, and cost-effective solutions by focusing on the end, not the means.

You will find in it lots of templates and samples of professional RFP letters, including the template allowing you to write your RFP from a template and sample. So don't wait, write your RFP from a template.

It's FREE!

"Write your RFP from an RFP template."
- Pascal PERRY

RFP Cover Letter

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