RFPs: Everything You Need to Know About the RFP Process

As in any medical field, it’s much easier to find a solution when the patient is able to clearly communicate what’s wrong. The “description” field is much like a job description section. It’s a place where you tell vendors, “This is what I need you to be able to do.”

If we revisit the new flooring example, one description sentence might be, “The finished hardwood floors will be sanded, sealed, and stained prior to completion of this project.” If a flooring company does not have the proper equipment to complete all of these steps, they know not to apply for the project. 

Project Deliverables and Scope: This portion of the RFP is where you get to write out, in a list or bullet format, everything you’re hoping to achieve with this partnership. This section details what you’re paying the vendor for, and what they are expected to deliver. These are the criteria the winning vendor will have to keep in mind while working on your project. For example, say you’re writing an RFP to a PR agency hoping they’ll help you distribute press releases for a recent round of funding. Your deliverables may read something like: 

  • Develop branded, appealing press releases that announce and detail our organization’s recent round of Series C funding
  • Distribute press releases to news sources and our provided list of corporate contact
  • Procure interviews and other news opportunities related to this announcement

Naming these deliverables is important because candidates have to be sure they can, well, deliver. If you’re a press release agency that distributes the documents and then moves on, you’re not right for an organization that wants help procuring media attention. 

This is also a good place to include quantifiable expectations. For example, if you’re hiring a marketing agency to create an ad campaign, you have goals outside of the creation of the campaign itself. You want a certain click rate, or a number of leads converted, or a return on investment.

Although the agency may not have complete control over these goals, it’s important to include them in the RFP. That way, if these goals are wildly missed upon project completion, the agency has a clear understanding as to why they won’t be utilized again. Outlining these quantifiable goals will help your vendor strategize in ways that are more likely to help you hit them.

Timeline: As we have discussed in previous chapters, the RFP process can easily drag on if you’re not diligent about communicating your timeline. Remember that long list of steps to the RFP process? Imagine if every one of those steps exceeded its intended timeline. What you were hoping to accomplish within one-to-three months would turn into a six-month process. 

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