How to write a top-notch RFP? A quick guide to Request For Proposal

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Does your company need to broaden its IT horizons in terms of software innovation? Are you looking for experienced specialists and trustworthy business partners to help your company grown and stay competitive? RFI or RFP is a crucial step, which should lead you to effective cooperation with vendors. Writing an RFP can be daunting if you don’t exactly know what it should contain.

Below, you can find some tips that can make the process of preparing RFP easier and much more efficient.

What does RFP stand for?

Request for proposal is kind of a document which describes organization’s needs for IT solutions. The primary goal of any RFP is to explain the vendors what procurement is looking for. It should give details of the project to be developed, budget, time and other information that you consider significant. The more thorough the RFP is, the more accurate the proposal draft will be.

RFP is used in business, mainly in the IT industry, and it can be applied at various stages of the project and for a variety of reasons. At the end of this process, the organization should be able to choose the best business partner based on vendors replies.

What should RFP consist of?

Project overview

At the beginning describe the nature of your project. In a brief synopsis include information about IT services you need and explain their purpose. Then, highlight the goals of the project and present existing technical environment.

Organization’s background

To cooperate with excellent specialists you have to be a reliable business partner as well. Describe what your organization does and present its most valuable qualities or outstanding projects. Explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it to ensure potential vendors that your mission corresponds with theirs. You do all this to avoid any further misunderstandings.

Requirements

At this point explain what your requirements are, considering many aspects. You can also determine functional requirements, which inform what your software should do and why you need it. Specify technical limitations in advance.

Budget

When it comes to replying to RFP, it’s essential to know your budget. Even if you don’t know the exact figure, you should at least give a range. This step can save time for  you and your future vendor in case it turns out you can’t meet each other’s demands or your budget is not acceptable to your potential business partner. Moreover, by determining how much you’re willing to pay, you give companies the opportunity to compete by offering their services and comparing prices. It is vital, but the price shouldn’t be the only factor that draws your attention.

Criteria for selection

Based on these criteria you’ll choose the best business opportunity for your organization. Set up your priorities to inform vendors what you expect from them and which qualities matter to you the most (for example time, budget, quality). By giving precise information on what vendors will be judged for, you’re encouraging them to focus on specific features. It’s simply about saving everyone’s time and energy.

Proposal requirements

Here you can ask questions you need the vendor to respond to in your RFP (for instance: How do they want to meet your expectations? What strategy are they proposing to help them achieve project goals?). Do remember to add some questions about unusual, specific situations connected to your company or industry. Furthermore, specify how much information the vendors should provide about themselves Set down a proposal format (for example PDF), ask about a contact person, and get references from previous clients.

Timeline

At the end, you have to outline dates for RFP and proposal process. Usually, there’s a deadline for sending back the proposal, for hearing back from procurement, scheduling interviews (specify if you require them in person or it’s enough to discuss remotely) and for final selection. You should also add instructions on how to deliver the proposals (for example via e-mail). Don’t forget to give contact to you or your coworker responsible for this process in case there are any questions about your RFP.

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All the above-mentioned tips should fit the standard IT service recruitment. Once you include all the essential information in your RFP, the vendors should be able to respond with accurate proposals.

Remember – RFP is the best time to be transparent and ask for everything you want to know or you’re not sure about.

If the process of preparing a proper RFP sounds like a lot of work for you, you can always use an free RFP template already available on the market which will guide you through all the steps.

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