Lesson 7: How to Respond to an RFP
Part 3: How?
How do I get a proposal across the finish line?
The answers to “what” and “who” cover most of the project overview and process. The “how” involves proposal delivery.
How = where + when + to whom
The RFP will almost always outline how the client expects the proposal to be delivered; however, if the RFP is unclear about delivery requirements, be sure to clarify this during the Q&A period. Where and when to submit the proposal depends on delivery type: hard copy or electronic.
If your proposal is a hard copy submission, schedule extra time into your project plan. This allows for production and possible shipping delays. Production can be time consuming. There are many steps including, printing, binding, and reviewing each copy to ensure your proposal is compliant with the following:
- Number of copies (and/or original signatures)
- Formatting (single-sided vs. double-sided, font, pagination, etc.)
- Binding (3-ring binder, binder combs, staples, binder clips)
- Additional media (CDs, USB drives)
- Packaging (specific labels or other markings, boxes vs. envelopes)
Acts of God, Man, and Nature
If your proposal is an electronic submission, it’s still important to schedule time to thoroughly review each document. Additionally, you should be familiar with the delivery platform in advance (especially when using a client’s online portal). Technology is amazing when it works. However, we’ve all experienced the panic that ensues when it does not. Consider what your team can do to mitigate risk by establishing a realistic timeline that allows for potential setbacks.
Along the same lines, always check the weather! Power outages, road closures, and heavy storms can affect both hard copies and electronic submissions.
Lastly, make sure your cover page, cover letter and packaging are consistently addressed to the correct recipient. Incorporating “how” to deliver your proposal into the project plan is just as important as choosing “who” and “what” to include when responding to an RFP.