RFPs: Everything You Need to Know About the RFP Process

Your RFP should include a couple different deadlines. Here are some key RFP dates to communicate to vendors up front:

Proposal deadline:   The final date for hopeful vendors will be able to turn in proposals to be considered

Evaluation window:   Typically, a window of time in between which stakeholders are evaluating proposals. Vendors should know that a decision has not been finalized during this window of time. This is also a timeline where stakeholders can continue to reach out to vendors for additional information, should they not have what they need to make a decision.

Selection deadline:  The day vendors will be notified of their success in procuring responsibility for the desired project.

Negotiation deadline:  Negotiations may need some time to go back and forth, so instead of putting one day on it, put a deadline. Send your first draft contract to the chosen vendor as soon as possible, and let them know the date you must have it completed by. Avoid using any language that implies your timeline is a suggestion. You and your selected vendor have gone through a lot of work to get this far. Be sure to keep the ball rolling swiftly by confidently telling them how long you are willing to negotiate the details.

Deadline to notify bidders who were not selected:  The deadline for notifying vendors or bidders who failed to procure the project. This is a deadline stakeholders should honor. Should you fail to notify vendors of your decision on the day you promised, you may be bombarded with calls and emails inquiring about your choice.

Additionally, missing your own deadlines is a breach of trust and starts your project off with a bad tone. If you don’t respect your own deadlines, you’re sending the okay for others not to respect them, either. This is the same as the selection deadline. Winning and non-selected bidders should receive responses on the days they were promised as it shows respect for their time and the energy put into the project.

Timeline for project completion:  These are the dates the stakeholders hope to begin seeing action on the project. This timeline can include various phases such as setup, initiation, planning, and timeline to completion.

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