Often when an organization seeks outside help for a project, it issues an RFP, or a request for proposal. Contractors then respond to the RFP, outlining how they can help with the project and why their company or team is the best option for the job. In order to receive the most complete responses and make the right choice, RFPs must include some basic information.
An RFP must always begin with an introduction and overview of the organization issuing the request and the problem or project where help is needed. The introduction is usually no more than a paragraph or two, and must also include the due date for the project and the proposed budget. Including this information helps firms make a decision about whether to respond to the RFP.
The second part of an RFP must provide details about the specific project or program. Provide specifics about the purpose and structure of the project as well as details regarding the team working on it, location, schedule and status. This information helps respondents understand the context of the project; they can then tailor their response to the needs of the requesting organization.
Scope of Service
An RFP must detail what services you’re looking for from an outside firm. This scope of service is probably the most important section of the RFP, since the responding firms will take great care to develop proposals that meet all of your needs. While you must include specific tasks that are key to completing the project, the list of services required must be fairly general, as each responding firm will have its own approach to the project. Allowing the outside firms to detail their ideas and processes can help you make a more informed decision on the best company for the job.
While some firms that issue RFPs hesitate to include budget information, if you have a strict budget, then include it in the RFP. The RFP must include a section asking firms to detail how they plan to use the budget, as well as a breakdown of their billing and payment requirements and procedures. Also include information about the type of contract you are granting and the duration of the contract.
When you are choosing an outside firm to work with your company, you want the best, most qualified firm that you can afford. The RFP must include a section where the responding firms can detail their qualifications for the job. If you are looking for specific experience, then ask respondents to detail their skills and experience in that area. In addition, request references, either for the company as a whole or for the individual team members.
Evaluation and Submission
RFPs must include a breakdown of the evaluation criteria and directions for submitting the proposal. Be clear and specific, indicating the date and time of the deadline, as well as a specific address where you will receive proposals. If there are circumstances that would lead to immediate disqualification, then include those as well.
An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer on topics including lifestyle, education, and business. She is the author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), and her work has appeared in Lewiston Auburn Magazine, Young Money, USA Today and a variety of online outlets. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.