How Does the RFP Process Work?
The RFP (Request for Proposal) process is a formalized process organizations use to procure goods or services from external vendors. It typically involves the following steps:
Identifying your Product or Solution:
The first step is for the organization to identify a need or problem for which they can provide a product or solution. Then, before diving into a formal bidding process, develop a comprehensive solution to a prospective client’s potential problem.
Finding an RFP:
The next step is finding an appropriate RFP that your solution can be applied to. A few places to find RFPs are:
Remember, finding the right fit for your organization and solution is always best instead of trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
Responding to the RFP:
When you find an RFP that you believe you can provide a solution for, read the RFP thoroughly and be sure to get all accompanying documents such as forms, addenda, Q&As, and amendments. Pay close attention and note any requirements, restrictions, and due dates. Often an RFP will tell you how they would like the proposal to be structured and what specific questions they would like to see responses to.
Use the beginning of the bid effort to thoroughly plan your approach. Larger bids can get out of hand quickly, and you don’t want to risk letting important information slip through the cracks.
Submitting your Proposal:
Before you submit your proposal, make sure your proposal responds to the RFP thoroughly and that you have completed all necessary forms. Ensure content follows RFP requirements and perform a final compliance review and proofread to catch errors or missing content.
Typically, proposal responses are in PDF format but may be required in a different format or various formats. Make sure you submit your proposal in the format required by the RFP. If the RFP requires a paper submission, ensure that you have accounted for the delivery time in your project plan and supplies (binding, paper, ink, boxes) in your internal budget.
If a proposal requires both an email submission and a physical copy, it helps you and the purchasing client to have the shipping tracker of the physical RFP.
The purchasing client will evaluate the proposals based on the vendor’s experience, qualifications, cost, and proposed timeline. This process may be quick but can also take weeks or months to complete. Sometimes, the purchasing client will have an expected timeline in the RFP, but this process is often unpredictable. Stay in touch with your existing points of contact and, if the RFP or client allows, reach out for updates.
Awarding the Contract:
Finally, the organization will select a vendor based on the evaluation process and award the contract to them. The selected vendor(s) will then work with the organization to finalize the project details, develop a contract, and begin work.
If your proposal was not selected, there are a couple of options:
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request: You can ask the vendor for a FOIA request and be provided access to all competitors or the winner’s proposal. Typically, all financial information and confidential information will not be included. This is an excellent way to understand your competition, how they structure their proposals, and how you can improve your proposal process.
Save your proposals: It’s essential to save your submissions; you can often reuse sections of content and tailor them to new proposals. The more content you have in your content library, the easier it will be to put together proposals in the future.
Tired of slogging through the proposal process by yourself? Reach out today for a free consultation and learn about how we can take your proposals from chaos to done!