How to improve your RFP – Part 2

Part Two of Four

In part one, we touched on areas on how to improve your request for proposal. We mentioned mitigating risks, improving bid responses and clarity. In part two, we will provide further amplification to these three areas.

Mitigating Risks: To reduce risk or to reduce liability against your organization we strongly recommend you involve legal counsel prior to issuing any formal RFP or RFQ documentation. Be sensible, if the proposal has a $5,000 budget you might wish to pass on the legal counsel review, however, if the proposal has a considerably larger value and or an inherent risk, then you should consider this option. Having provided this caveat, we are also assuming you are using a quality template that has been reviewed and approved by your organization in the first place.

Other ways to limit liability is to ensure your instructions to bidders are consistent and do not contradict within the proposal. An example, would be a technical specification being at odds in two different areas of your document. Another example, is an extension to the submission date. If you indicate the tenders or proposals must be received by 3:00 PM PST on August 4, 2015, then you are legally bound to honor this timeline. Many organizations date and time-stamp proposals at time of receipt. This log and control function is a form of mitigating risk in the event they are challenged. If you issue an addendum or extension to a deadline then this must be provided to all bidders.

Risks and liabilities are a very dry topic and we could spend a considerable amount of time on this subject alone but we hope the above gives you some sense on how to avoid getting embroiled in a legal challenge. Lets move on to improving your bid responses.

The best way to improve your bid responses and to ensure you are getting the best prices put forward by your bidders is to provide them with all the essential criteria they need to quote the best possible price. If there are many unknowns or risks which are not clearly defined then a prudent vendor organization will build in additional costs to cover these unknowns. If you want to eliminate this and other potential headaches then spend all your efforts on putting together a thorough scope of work.

The last point in part two of how to improve your RFP presentations is clarity. Another word for clarity would be instructions. Yes clarity of what the bidder is actually bidding on is vital as well but we covered that part so this section will be on providing your bidders with clear instructions on expectations; viewing dates and times; when bids must be received by;  format; insurance requirements and anything else which should be provided with their response.

When it comes to clarity or instructions, we always recommend you have a third party review your proposal. A second set of eyes that have not been staring at a bunch of text all day can pick out anomalies that you might be overlooking. Does the document flow in a logical manner, are the dates and timelines reasonable and correct, is the right set of conditions included, spelling errors and the list goes on.

Stay tuned for part three on How to Improve your RFP writing and presentation.