Request for Proposal, abbreviated as RFP is a vital aspect of a standard business postulate. Most business in modern days invite suppliers and service providers to join a bidding process to purchase specific service(s) or product(s). The days of writing traditional letters to request for prices of products and service are long gone – giving way to the RFP. With more creative ideas and time based experience the system has been improved a lot to make it more transcendental.
So what’s in it for you … you as the purchaser have often wondered and felt that it is a plaything that vendors bother about, if you ask … the answer is Everything. A good RFP can help you identify the right vendor for you, determine the strengths and skills and ideas of the service provider and most certainly can help in determining and fixing down your budgetary expectations and time of completion. However, if that is the advantages and merits, it should also be said that it does have some disadvantages like any other. Creating a good RFP is not necessarily child’s play, and can incur a good cost. For a larger project spanning over 2-3 months and more, it could be worthwhile to dedicate a full time person to identify the requirements, ideas, pros and cons. So Why Do We Need to Do It? Here is a easy reason – not doing it can lead up to spending more than you initially wanted to , get tangled in messy emails and phone interactions with your provider, jumping around multiple vendors for doing multiple tasks, end up dedicating more time to a smaller job and the list can go on and on !!
Here in comes the advantage of reading though this blog entry ? We have given the topic of Creation of a good RFP some thought for our customers and partners and also done some amount of research work on Google and Yahoo. This led us to finalize some basic points which are a must for any good Request for Proposals (RFP) and they are:
• Project Summary
• Objectives and Goals
• Scope of Work with earmarked functionalities
• Service Provider Information ( Contact Numbers, Emails, References )
• Budget ( Design and Development , Expenses , Promotions)
• Schedule ( Connected to goals , maintenance , expedition )
• Evaluation Criteria ( If Any)
Project Summary: This is nothing but 2-5 lines about the project you want to be delivered in your own words.
Objectives and Goals: Somewhere I had read that many RFP’s start nicely but somehow get intermingled with Functionalities and run back and forth. Objectives or Goals are like reasons you want to build an application or website. It is not the intricate detail of a part of the work or example of something you have seen in Site X. For example, “I would like to build up a list of visitors / subscribers so that I can target them for future promotions” or “I would like to be able to automate my Payment Schedules via mobile alerts” are objectives. Whereas, “I need 3 subscription form – one for PayPal, One for credit card” is a Functionality.
Scope of Work: Now this can include a much more detailed functionality specification. The more you are at ease in such details would surely make it easier for the service provider to build in, but if you are going into right about such, do your research work first. Scope of Work should also contain proper terminology or choices. If you are uncertain of something, find out the appropriate term of describe it in simple words, in your own words.
Budget: Budget and budgetary expectations should essentially be included in your RFP’s even if it seems like a dangerous addition. Many clients get cautious to put in a figure in fear that this might lead to higher cost submissions by vendors. While I do not disagree that such occurrences do take place, but it is also possible that it may as well weed off service providers who do not fall in the level you are happy with. Furthermore, once a selection of the service provider has been made negotiations can always happen.
Schedules: This is a very important part and should be discussed and identified which schedule can be attached to which work, what happens when there is mid-project change in scope, holidays and other instances.
Lastly, Evaluation Criteria: Many customers often have a selection criterion, such as willingness or not to work with international vendors, existence of past portfolio, and certification by some authority, ability to accept payments by a specific mode etc.