Requests for proposals (RFPs) are used by procurement teams to acquire supplier proposals for a project. The RFP defines the scope of the project including budget, timeframe, and objectives and allows organisations to vet multiple vendors against each other. The competitive nature of RFPs – particularly as more organisations explore collaborative bidding processes - helps to ensure that you are procuring suppliers that are both qualified and charging appropriately for their services.
As a fundamental part of the procurement process, it’s important that RFPs set the standard for the type of supplier required for the project.But how can organisations ensure that they consistently write RFPs that bring in the right suppliers? Follow our five steps below.
To get the best suppliers for the task at hand, it’s crucial to understand the project inside-out. The RFP writer should liaise with the relevant stakeholders to ascertain what problems they are trying to resolve and the wider impact of the issue on the rest of the organisation. Possible risks and complications should also be discussed.
Potential solutions – such as those employed by competitors – should also be researched to gain an understanding of what solutions might be feasible given the timeframe and budget available. By researching this prior to composing the RFP, you can avoid wasting time with suppliers that offer products or services beyond the parameters of the project and instead, you can produce an RFP with clear and quantifiable objectives that relevant vendors can respond to.
The best way to seek out the right supplier is to have a clear picture of what you’re looking for from the outset. This will usually be dictated by the parameters of the project; for example, if the project is price-sensitive then cost will be the biggest decision driver. Alternatively, if the project requires a quick turnaround, then projected timeframes will be an important factor in choosing the right supplier. Other possible decision drivers include niche experience, expertise, and quality.
Whatever your priorities are, it’s important to know and communicate this within the RFP itself. In short, the RFP should help suppliers as much as possible to put their best foot forward and give evidence and examples of past projects which demonstrate the qualities that you are looking for.
This part of the RFP process will also help you further down the line when it comes to assessing all proposals against your criteria.
The RFP itself should be clear and easily decipherable by vendors.In fact, some of the top-quality vendors often won’t respond at all if the RFP does not clearly communicate the full scope of work.
The document should be structured with headings for each section to make it easily digestible. Content should include as a minimum:
· A description of the company
· The problem
· The project timeframe
· The project budget
We often recommend including a summary of the project and the RFP content to help attract more responses from vendors.
An often-overlooked area of the RFP is the inclusion of your evaluation criteria. Whilst this is not a uniform requirement of an RFP, from experience, we know that clients are always far better served from including the evaluation criteria, so that vendors can suitably tailor their proposal to your priorities.
If you choose not to include the criteria, be prepared for multiple vendors to contact you requesting one.
Furthermore, with more proposals specific ally geared towards your evaluation criteria, the proposal review stage is made much easier as organisations can compare proposals on a more like-for-like basis.
Setting clear expectations from the outset will help to develop the kind of relationship you want with a supplier. Where possible, it is always good to include a timeline of the project which vendors can use to accurately calculate their budgets and plan how to best allocate their internal resources.
As a minimum, the RFP should cover key deadlines, including the deadline for proposal submissions and the project completion deadline.
We can work with your team to design, develop and draft your RFP documents, including structuring commercial principles, developing tender evaluation criteria, and drafting the commercial contract. With decades of experience in procurement and supplier management, our team is trusted by SMEs across the UK to manage and deliver a range of procurement and consultancy activities.Get in touch today at email@example.com