A Simple Guide to Issuing an Effective RFP

RFP Checklist

There are many elements that go into writing a request for proposals (RFP). While some of the criteria vary by project, the cornerstone of a successful RFP process is to clearly define the needs and goals of the owner and project.

Highlight what the owner feels are the two to three most important aspects of the project. This ensures that those responding provide the information necessary to help the owner select the most appropriate firm. Outlined below are some key elements to include in your next RFP issue. Being succinct in the request will yield uniform responses and allow for the best “apples-to-apples” comparison.

Know Your Project – For the RFP process to be efficient and effective, you must first do your homework. Describe your project and process in as much detail as possible. This will not only save you time by eliminating unnecessary questions from submitting firms, but it will also provide them the information they need to get excited about your project and share how they can help you achieve your goals.

Describe the following in detail:

  • Project location
  • Scope
  • Needs and goals
  • Project delivery preference
  • Approximate size
  • Anticipated program
  • Estimated budget
  • Funding
  • Important dates (general project schedule)

General Information/Instructions – Share the details of the RFP to keep your committee and all submitters on the same page. These are hard facts about the RFP schedule, number of copies required, the prescribed format and where to send or submit the response.

Provide specific dates (and times, when applicable) for the following items related to the RFP process and schedule:

  • RFP issue date
  • Pre-proposal meeting date (and whether it's mandatory or optional)
  • Questions due and responses posted dates
  • Submission due date and time (be sure to specify the time zone)!
  • Response review timeline
  • Shortlist issue date
  • Anticipated interview dates
  • Anticipated contract award date

Also be sure to specify:

  • Number of copies and delivery method (hard copies, PDF, Word doc, etc.?)
  • Address, email address, etc. where submissions should be sent or delivered

Proposal Requirements and Selection Criteria – Eliminate the guessing game from your submitters and get the information you really want! Be specific about your request, but at the same time allow some room for flexibility and creativity so you can evaluate not only the firms’ qualifications, but their “personality fit.” Remember, you’ll be working with them for the next one or two years (maybe longer).

Specify these formatting requirements/restrictions:

  • Page limit and what is/isn’t included in the page count (e.g., appendix items that do not count toward the page limit)
  • Whether divider tabs/sheets may contain images, whether they should be included in the page count, etc.
  • Single- versus double-sided document
  • Page size

And last but not least, be specific about the content you're seeking:

  • Cover letter signed by the main contact at the submitting firm
  • Firm capabilities
  • Relevant projects, including:
    - Project description
    - Owner contact information
    - Project size
    - Project cost
    - Project completion date
  • Additional references
  • Project team:
    - Organizational chart
    - Résumés of key members
  • Project understanding, approach, work plan and schedule
  • Two to three specific questions, relating to the project, that demonstrate how responding firms can help the client achieve their objectives
  • Fee proposal/hourly rates (only if the scope of services is specifically defined)
  • Appendix (consultant team, additional information, etc.)

Note: City requirements may be added to any of the sections above.

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 12:28pm

Tags: workflow productivity (2), rfp process (1)

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