How To Write A Request For Proposal
Request for Proposals
A Request For Proposal (RFP) or Request For Quotation (RFQ) is a common tool businesses and associations use to request interest from potential software programmers and application developers. There is a correct way to write an RFP or RFQ and an incorrect way to write an RFP or RFQ. To start with you need to establish the objective of the RFP. Some organizations have a policy that they must have multiple bids or proposals for any purchase over a certain level. Some organizations use an RFP or RFQ to get ideas and create a short list of possible vendors who can meet their requirements. If you are looking to create a short list of suppliers the RFP would be much different than if you are looking to get accurate pricing. In the first case you are looking for qualifications, credentials and references. In the second you are providing requirements and specifications so you can get responses which can be objectively compared.
Unfortunately many companies who are more than capable to deliver the required products and services do not respond to RFPs and RFQs which may not give you the best set of development options to choose from. There are two main reasons why. The first is that there is insufficient information to make an accurate time estimate. This happens when the person preparing the RFP or RFQ either does not have their request in the form of accurate specifications, or worse yet, they do not know what they want and are in a sense, "fishing for ideas" of how potential suppliers would solve their problems. The second main reason they do not respond is because the RFP or RFQ is written from the Client perspective and not from the Vendor's perspective, and businesses are unwilling to invest the time or risk making assumptions to come up with a time estimate.
Request for Proposal Preparation Services
As a developer of custom software, custom websites and custom databases we understand the need for an accurate and detailed set of requirements and specifications. Developing custom projects can be a risky undertaking with many projects resulting in failure. The solution is to have a clear definition of the project so that the Developer and the Client have the same expectations of the final deliverable, and the process to arrive at the deliverable.
The benefit of hiring a professional developer to prepare your RFP is that they typically understand the language and know what questions to ask. Many Developers and Clients make assumptions and do not clarify each other's expectations which can lead to a frustrating development experience.
Corectech has a team of professionals who can work with you to document your requirements, prepare the RFP, assist in the screening and ranking of responses, and even assist in the contract negotiation and preparation. If you are preparing and RFP and are interested in a Quote, please click on the Request for Quote link at the top of the page.
If you are planning to prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP), here are 6 tips to get a better response to your request:
1.A Good RFP starts off with an explanation of the Purpose of the RFP, the Process for making a selection from the respondents, including the decision criteria. Make the purpose and your expectations clear. If you are only willing to consider a local, regional, national or international, specify that in the opening of the RFP.
2. List the requirements that you must have and those that would be beneficial but not required.
3. Write and structure the requirements in a developer's language. If it is a database, what are the data entities (tables or record sets). What is the level of security required? What about data conversion from an existing system? What are the required or preferred development tools? Some of the best RFP and RFQ I have seen have actually been prepared by a development vendor who had excused themselves from the RFP process.
4. Provide adequate lead time. A lot of time goes into responding to an RFP and if the document is received with insufficient time it will reduce the response rate. It takes considerable time to work through an RFP and respond, typically unpaid time for the developers.
5. Specify "How" you want the system to work. As designers and developers, knowing how to do something is the value that the respondents provide. Many are unwilling to provide this knowledge for free. If you can articulate what you want and how it will work you will get a lot more responses and will be able to compare apples to apples. When you leave it up to each respondent to assume their own "how" it makes it difficult to compare.
6. If you are looking for the lowest price say so. Nobody wants to pay more than they have to. If it is clear that the lowest price proposal which meets the selection criteria will be awarded the project you can still get numerous quality bids from someone who wants the work. If you don't specify this but people infer it from the language in the proposal, some will not respond and some who do will be looking to get the project and complete it to the minimum level of the specifications, so don't count on any extras.
Is there a difference between an RFQ and an RFP? Most people associate an RFP with a general document where the Client is not sure what they are looking for and are looking for potential suppliers to express an interest with enough detail to create a short list of potential developers. An RFQ is associated with a more detailed document that provides specifications that must be provided or are optional. It also typically includes a set of scoring criteria so potential suppliers know what weighting is based on factors like price, experience, guarantees etc.
If you have a project you would like a proposal on please contact us with your Request For Proposal or Request for Quotation. If you are at the writing stage and are looking for assistance in preparing an RFP we can also provide you with that service on a per hour basis. Because we understand what a programmer will need to make an accurate estimate we can create an RFP or RFQ that other developers will understand, appreciate, and respond to.