Preparing your RFP (7 points)

Preparing your RFP for Issue

7 key points to review when preparing a RFP

Most of your business associates are likely aware of the term RFP and what it stands for. They might not understand how it is used by purchasing professionals, however they should know it is a formal procurement document sent out to solicit responses from other businesses or suppliers.

The RFP document is a Request for Proposal form and a company would typically opt to send it out to three or more vendors or suppliers. Before we cover other areas to review when preparing a RFP let’s touch on Vendors for a moment. When the RFP is issued, it is expected the vendors or suppliers you decide to select or include in the bid are qualified to generate a desired response to the Buyer’s needs.

A qualified vendor is often:

1. A supplier you have done business with before
2. One you recently pre-qualified using a formal process
3. They come recommended from other business associates or
4. Have references you can check

Always narrow your vendor list down to supplier’s you know will submit a quality product and service. It is not considered a best practice to submit requests to vendors which may provide a sub-standard service or poor quality product.

Much is at stake when making a selection and product quality or best price is no longer the only determining factor when deciding whom to award your business to. Most companies will look at your safety records, insurance coverage, environmental policies, delivery history, payment terms and so much more so buying just on price is no longer the single determining factor.

Back to preparing the RFP – a request for proposal allows your qualified vendors to make a submission or a “proposal” which they believe will work based on the SOW (Scope of Work) or specification clearly identified in your document. In many cases, the Vendor is more qualified and can put forward a better solution than one scoped out internally by colleagues. They often have the engineering or expertise to back up their product line so it is important to factor in their recommendations. It is pertinent to understand a RFP – Request for Proposal is not a RFQ or Request for Quote. A RFQ is generated when the Buyer knows exactly what is needed. The RFP allows the Vendor to analyze your situation and put forward a custom solution.

7 key points to review when preparing a RFP

  1. Consider your audience when preparing your document and spend time ensuring you have qualified bidders on your vendor list (see above). 
  2. Recognize that your problems are NOT unique – they exist everywhere and within every organization.
  3. Remember, you own the process not the content – so get some help. Seek assistance or clarity on any concerns or issues. If you do not have support approach a colleague at another company or if you are a member in an organization ask a fellow member.
  4. It will include different sections which will vary in length and complexity. For example, some organizations will include a section on general conditions and a section on special conditions. Typically, these instances relate to higher cost items so ensure you have the correct conditions and sections which will govern your proposal.
  5. Prepare your RFP to the best of your ability by cherry picking details from past tenders.
  6. Have a gatekeeper proof read your document…did we say proof read? Invite a co-worker or a peer to review the flow and the wording.
  7. Last and prior to distribution consider having your companies legal counsel review your RFP, especially if the risk warrants.

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