A request for proposal (RFP) is a type of solicitation, often made through a bidding process, by an organization interested in a particular product or service to a group of potential partners asking them to submit business proposals. In the nonprofit sector, building a quality RFP can help to ensure that your organization develops efficient and effective partnerships with the right suppliers. To help you generate stronger RFPs for your organization’s future projects, read the list of best practices below:
Focus on quality: Forget words like “fast” and “cheap”; your focus should be on the correctness and completeness of suppliers’ work. In order to do this, you should start all of your supplier conversations with quality as the main focus. By ensuring everyone at your organization is on the same page regarding quality and correctness, you will be starting off on the right foot when initiating your RFP project.
Establish the breadth of services required: This is a relatively simple principle that many organizations tend to forget. You must clearly define the scope of work that you require. Your team must work together to define the why, who, what, when, how and how much of the project before going forward in the proposal process.
Keep it simple: When developing your RFP, try to keep it as simple and comprehensive as possible. This can be done by getting to the point within a few pages, usually between 2-5 pages with a maximum of 8-10 (excluding appendices). However, remember that page length should correspond with project scope e.g. a project that is large and complex should have a longer and more in-depth proposal. Although it is important to keep your RFP simple and concise, you mustn’t forget any of the following elements:
- An explanation of how they would approach the scope of work sought
- Request a clear and accurate cost proposal
- Request a statement of experience and qualifications
- Ask for client examples and reference projects similar to your organization’s needs.
Transparency is good: What we mean by transparency is that it is good to allow potential partners to see your budget. In doing so, you will give suppliers the chance to compete against one another to give you a proposal more within what you can afford. This approach also helps partners better understand your expectations, and provides them with the opportunity to spend more time and effort to win your organization’s business with the best overall deal.
Refine until flawless: It’s very straightforward. If your RFP is subpar, you’ll receive subpar proposals. To make sure that you receive the best proposals possible, you must consider and clearly define the scope, must-haves, and your requirements of suppliers. By putting maximum effort into your RFP, you can expect to receive quality proposals from potential partners.
Are you looking to build a RFP for your next software solution? We can help take some of the pain out of the process. We've seen A LOT of RFPs in our day and have compiled the best into a set of templates and worksheets that you can download and customize for your organization.