Attract Great Suppliers with Quality RFP

Quality RFP

An RFP is the face of your company to potential collaborators so it’s important to compose them well. Good ones lead to good proposals, good proposals lead to better working relationships, which leads to better projects and outcomes. So what should you include if you want to write a good one? What details do vendors need to know about your project to bid accurately? What questions should you be asking them to assess their fitness and capability?

 

Writing a Request For Proposal (RFP) can be daunting since you probably don't spend all day making RFPs but with the right guidance, you can draw up one that's useful and concise. 

 

Have the end in mind.

Before you start compiling the RFP, think through the output you expect from the vendors and your team and how the process should be for efficiency and desired results – best suited vendor to work with.

 

Procurement software like SRMhub should assist with all of the above and ensure that you write clear questions to get the responses you need to make the right vendor selection. And the best kind of RFP process improvement is the removal of manual, time-consuming tasks,

allowing your procurement team to focus on providing value.

 

Automated RFP software is a must-have tool for procurement officers to solicit the best bids from the right vendors. Save time and money finding the best available vendors out there.

 

Introduction your organization

Introduce your organization and the purpose of the RFP. State not only what you want the service provider to do but also why: what is the central “pain point” your organization has?

Rather than describing a solution, try articulating the problem as best you can. There may be all kinds of solutions available that will meet your needs better than what you have in mind and suppliers (read professionals) can suggest solutions you may not have thought of yet. By focusing more on the job to be done, it encourages the responder to think outside the box.

 

Describe your organization, what it does, and what you do. There’s a good chance we’ve never heard of you or your RFP may attract suppliers in global arena. Additionally, talk a little about your values. What makes you unique? Why does what you do matter?

 

This is important because by describing your values, you’re more likely to find an organization that’s a good value fit both for your goals and processes. Firms may have a specialty in a certain area, by knowing if you fit into one of their niches, they can make better recommendations.

 

It is important to articulate your project goals by explaining what you plan to accomplish or what outcome you have in mind.  It goes without saying, that the more clearly you articulate what you want out of the process, the more likely you are to get it. Knowing both the concrete goals and stakeholders whose needs you’re trying to meet makes the implementation job much easier. It also means when facing a decision point, you’ll be guided more by objective outcomes than personal preference.

 

Scope of work

Provide detailed scope of work and deliverables. This is an opportunity to provide more detail about the project to the extent you can, describe all the services you know that you’ll need the supplier to provide. Aim to be explicit about what's important to be delivered but it’s OK if you don’t know exactly what’s involved. This enables the suppliers to work out their math and provide accurate estimates.

 

Timeline

You may not know how long something will take to do, but you do have a timeline you have to accomplish it within. Is there some hard deadline you need to hit, such as the launch of a new product or ad campaign? Maybe you have a big trade show coming up and need the site live by then? Be sure to mention any firm dates beyond the vendor selection process.

 

Be up front about your timeline, and your vendors will be honest about its likelihood. This enables the vendor to determine whether whether or not it's possible to finish the project on time!

 

Technical Requirements

This is a pretty broad subject but your goal here is to describe what requirements or limitations you know in advance. The technical requirements section may be one of the longest sections of your RFP, depending on the complexity, because there are tons of variables to work out that will impact the scope. The more details you can provide up front, the better the estimate. This enables vendors to self-select for overall fitness and there’s no need to solicit a vendor that doesn’t have experience in providing goods or services you require.

 

As a procurement professional, you have a mandate to secure a vendor that fulfills the needs of your RFP, including project capabilities, service agreements, technical specs, legal requirements, and compliance certifications, to name a few. All this, even before we start talking about cost.

 

It is possible that procurement manager may not have expertise needed there is no harm getting help to draw technical specifications.

 

Avoid open ended questions. They result to open-ended answers and questions that lead to paragraph-based responses can add unnecessary time to the review process. The RFP process in general is at a risk of being out of date, so the most time-consuming part may be the best place to start.

Using easy-to-compare questions with multiple choice and yes/no answers ensures that responses don’t become too long-winded for easier comparability. Nobody wants to read through paragraphs and paragraphs to hunt for an answer. This is the more reason to utilize procurement software because this will be streamlined.

Budget

Yes, you really need to include your budget, even if it’s your best guess. If you need to specify a range, that’s fine too. Like cars, there is no price point for which you cannot find a solution of sorts to your problem.

If you want to buy a car, telling me your budget means letting you know what I can provide at that price: a Hyundai, a Toyota, a BMW or a Bentley. All great cars, all with different value propositions. You’re a professional company seeking a professional service. It’s OK to talk about money.

Why It’s Important: You don’t want to waste your time (or the vendor’s) preparing a proposal that’s way out of your range. By stating explicitly what you want to pay, you permit the vendors to compete with each other for what they will offer you at the same price. Moreover, many agencies will work within the budget you prescribe to address the most important items of the scope first. Meaning that vendors can help you identify the top priorities so that you can exclude or move non-essential elements to a later phase or scope.

 Criteria for Selection

You’re going to get a lot of different proposals back and each company will have different strengths, reputations, and capabilities. Some will compete on low cost; others on best quality; still others on more features. Figure out what you want in a vendor: cheapest option? Fastest delivery? Highest quality? E.t.c

And we’ve developed some RFP scoring guidelines to make it easy. Here are the 7 key elements of RFP scoring guidelines based on inbuilt evaluation process in SRMhub:

 

  1. Identify the scoring team
  2. Create your scoring matrix
  3. Create your scorecards
  4. Brief your scoring team on the scoring process
  5. Conduct individual scoring
  6. Scoring team review
  7. Executive review

Using these RFP scoring guidelines will help keep the selection process transparent and ensure buy-in from all your stakeholders. The evaluation criteria and scoring process should be included in the RFP document.

Following well-articulated RFP scoring guidelines will ensure that the right vendor will be selected based on the true needs of your organization. In addition, you’ll encourage the company to focus the proposal on its qualities that matter most to you, which means not wasting time on the things it does well that you don’t care about. A vendor might be an expert in some service or possess some characteristic that’s important to your project’s success and fail to mention it, thinking it’s not worth it.

 

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection. Begin the journey of migrating to electronic RFPs and quotations with us today for greater efficiency and transparency.