A request for proposal (RFP) application is a document that an organization, often a large enterprise or a governmental organization, posts to solicit a response from potential vendors about the supply of specific goods and services.
The request for proposal specifies what the client is looking for and outlines the evaluation criteria used to assess each vendor’s proposal. Unlike other requisition forms, the RFP is used when the client knows what they want to buy and he’s soliciting offers from multiple clients.
What Does an RFP Application Capture?
A request for proposal typically includes the background information of the issuing organization, its line of business (known as LOB), specifications describing the sought-after products or services, and the approval process of the submitted bids or how submitted proposals will be graded.
The RFP includes a section known as a statement of work SOW that defines the scope of services to be rendered. This section typically captures the scope of the work to be done by the winning bidder and the specified timeline.
The RFP includes detailed guidance to bidders on how to prepare the proposal. Another important information captured is the format of the bid proposal and the general organization and structure.
How to Write a Request for Proposal?
Writing a clear and formal request for a proposal (RFP) application will maximize your chances of getting a favorable response and ultimately winning the bid. Suppliers must explicitly understand your supply requirements and know whether they can meet by simply looking at your RFP.
So, here’s how you write a request for proposal:
1. Background and Introduction
In your first paragraph, including critical background information about your company – founders, products, and services and what sets the firm apart from the competition, and location. If your vendor is interested in working with you, they will need this information.
2. Goals and Scope of Services
Define what your project is all about and know what you exactly need before you solicit products or services via a request for proposal. You need to know the project that needs completing and its goals and objectives. This will inform you about what to order and what specifications to consider in the supply process. You need to be as detailed as possible in this step, even outlining individual criteria and tasks is crucial.
3. Selection Schedule
It’s advisable to specify a schedule so that vendors and suppliers can know if they can meet your deadlines. You’ll also need to give suppliers and vendors a window of opportunity to ask questions regarding the project. This eliminates hassles, inconveniences, and helps to deal with bottlenecks beforehand.
4. Submission Details
Clarify the time and location that suppliers must submit their bids. This is important information you’ll need to clarify and present so that vendors can know exactly where and when to present themselves.
5. Define Timelines
Write down any key deadlines that vendors should know. Clarify when you need their responses; when you’ll announce the contract’s winner, when the project will commence, and the final deadline. Defining these deadlines helps vendors to know when they have the time to work with your enterprise. However, failure to specify deadlines and timelines may lead to overlapping tasks and cause delays in project deliverables and closures.
6. Proposal Elements
If you don’t outline specifically and clearly what you need vendors to capture in their proposal, you can’t blame them for missing out on critical information in their applications. It’s crucial to outline a checklist so that vendors know which elements and aspects you’re looking forward to receiving in their bids. The proposal element list is a good guide for knowing who can handle your demands and who cannot. If a vendor cannot complete all the elements of a contract, it means you probably can’t trust them with your project.
7. Evaluation Criteria
Outlining your expectations and preferences will eliminate vendors who probably cannot meet them. For this section, you’ll need to do some brainstorming work with your team to know the mandatory indicators of the best candidates. Your work can include proven success records, technical skills and expertise to meet your demands, and the cost of services that falls within your price range.
8. Possible Roadblocks
In this section, you may want to highlight any roadblocks, such as a custom website or limited resources, that may hinder your vendors from completing the project. Identify any bottlenecks, resource constraints, or timeframes that some suppliers may find hard to meet or satisfy. This step eliminates unsatisfactory bidders and may help you determine which vendors have the expertise and skills to tackle these challenges.
Vendors will want to know how much your business will pay for services and goods before submitting their bids. So, specify your budget and outline benefits or compensations that accompany your project.
10. Proofread and Revise
Proofreading your proposal helps you eliminate spelling and grammatical errors before distributing your document. Proofreading helps you identify sentences that can be reworded for better fluency and clarity. After proofreading and revising, forward your document to a colleague for feedback. The time spent proofreading and revising the proposal will make it appear professional.
Tips for Writing a Request for Proposal RFP
- Use bullet points and subheadings. Subheadings and bullet points make the proposal easier to digest than RFPs with large texts.
- Write about what you know. You should only write an RFP requesting services and products you understand and work with. Your understanding of the services needed will help you create an RFP that asks the most pertinent questions and solicits critical responses.
- Be detailed, not prescriptive. It’s advisable to be detailed in your request. Rather than focusing on the “hows” of the job, focus on the “whats”. This means you should focus on the project itself rather than how it should be done, as it encourages suppliers to use their insight and expertise to help you achieve your goals.
ProcurePort – Simplifying Your RFP Application
ProcurePort provides robust, intuitive, easy-to-use procurement tools that help simplify the purchase process. With ProcurePort, enterprises and organizations can enjoy the immense power of automation to streamline their procurement and supply chain processes.
Contact ProcurePort to kick-start your RFP process.