RFPs: Everything You Need to Know About the RFP Process

Although your RFP isn’t the most sensitive documentation you have, it’s still information external contacts have no business handling. Keep your plans private so there are no interruptions, setbacks, or unsolicited proposals.

Snail mail is an acceptable way to distribute RFPs as well, but remember the reason it’s called “snail mail”: it’s a slower way to do business. Sending physical copies extends delivery times and, by default, could delay submissions or other processes.

This method does have its perks, though. Some feel snail mail is still more personal, and it gets a physical hard copy of your RFP into your recipients’ hands. Feel free to use this method to get your RFPs sent out to candidates, but know that you’ll either have to expedite the package or accept a longer process. 

RFP deciding factors

A kid in a candy store has no idea where to begin. They want Rolos and Smarties; chocolate turtles and caramel taffy. They’re so overwhelmed at the options that they either overload, or freeze in indecision. 

When you’re deciding whose proposal to go with, you don’t want to feel like that kid. You want to have a strategy and feel prepared to have multiple viable, qualified options.

Just like deciding on a job candidate, it’s possible you’ll have proposals that make this decision quite difficult. That’s a problem you want to have. It means you delivered a compelling enough RFP that candidates were inspired not only to apply, but also to send a quality proposal back to you. 

In this chapter, we’ll discuss some best practices for choosing your winning bidder. With a little preparation and trust in the process, this doesn’t have to be an anxiety-inducing stress fest. Just like on “America’s Next Top Model” or “Chopped,” there are clear and trusted ways to determine the winning candidate. Here are a couple of factors that should create the bulk of your evaluation process.

Compliance:  Searching proposals for compliance will help you make some decisions pretty quickly. Like a professor grading a paper, this step basically asks, “Did they do what I asked? Are they qualified in the ways we requested? Is their budget anywhere within our means?” 
This step is valuable especially if you have a large number of proposals to go through. If a proposal fails to comply in big ways, you have a good idea that this bidder won’t work for your needs.

Granted, you should give a bidder the same respect they gave you in applying for the position. Don’t just skim through their hard work, marking red X’s over every page. Mark it as non-compliant after you’ve been able to look over their documentation carefully. Be sure to record your reasons as well, should it come up in later conversations.

Evaluation and Scoring:  Now that you’ve eliminated a couple of proposals that don’t comply, it’s time to evaluate and score the rest. Evaluation is tricky. You want to utilize your employee’s or team’s time wisely while also making sure every proposal is thoroughly looked over. Here are a few different evaluation strategies that will help you streamline this process. 

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