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What is an RFP?
An RFP is a document businesses will create in order to “request for proposals” from other businesses offering a service you want to buy.
Let’s say you’re looking to build a mobile application. You would create and circulate a document asking mobile application development companies to submit proposals to you.
Notice that I said ‘companies’, plural. This means that you should get more than one proposals in response to your RFP. Multiple companies will bid on the same project in a consistent way (per your RFP requirements), making it vastly easier for you to compare bids and ultimately select the best company for the job.
Why You Need an Amazing RFP
When you are sending out your RFP to vendors, it’s not just you picking the best company to work with, you are also communicating who you are and why should they choose you among other RFPs they receive.
Your RFP needs to clearly communicate your project goals, criteria for vendor selection, desired functionality, deadlines, selection process and contact info.
Because the RFP process helps to identify the “goods” and “bads” upfront, for both you and the vendors, and tightens the procurement decision’s structure as well.
The quality of your RFP has a significant bearing on the quality of proposals (and the companies behind them) you’ll receive. Many companies do not like responding to RFPs and will simply pan a project because of a poorly written RFP.
That’s bad for you because you could be missing out on great talent.
That said, let’s look at what makes a great RFP.
How to Write an Amazing RFP
1. Project Purpose/ Executive Summary
It can have various titles. Go with what suits your needs best. This section should start with providing a short summary of your company, the business problem, the solution you desire to achieve and the proposed project description.
Things to remember:
Write the summary clear enough to enable the vendors to draw up a base line solution to the problem.
2. Company Overview
Write up a brief but clear overview of your company. This is where you introduce yourself, so be sure to mention what makes you the better choice not by plain words, but by showing how your company works, your core values and your company goals.
You can use these points for motivation:
3. Targeted Audience
Companies who do not clearly identify their target audience are red flags for vendors. Be sure to give this one extensive amount of thought.
From here on starts the second part of your RFP, where you talk about what exactly is it that you are looking for.
4. Functionality Requirements
Here you give a detailed description of the desired solution you need developed, with emphasis on the required core functionalities.
The kind of features required.
The necessary functions the app must perform.
Is there any existing solution or app the vendors can relate with to better understand your requirement of features?
If you have preference for devices or operating systems, mention that here.
Mention any functionality that is not core to the app but rather as an optional feature as well.
The more clearly you write this section, the more helpful it will be for suppliers to sketch up a price, and that will make it easier for you to identify which items cost what.
5. Use Cases
Use cases will be the second important in telling your vendors what you want with your app.
Give a good and concise example of a use case to help the vendors understand how your users will interact with the app.
6. Budget Details
Your budget range will dictate the kind of responses you get. If you pose a too open of a budget you will be successful in gathering up a lot of responses BUT then you will have trouble choosing from them. Too open of a budget will get you very varied responses. You need to have a loosely calculated, but precise to some extent, budget that would best cover up the entire project costs.
The budget you decide should be based on two factors:
A pointer: Providing a budget range will better serve you than a rounded up number. You can elicit great offers by mentioning that solutions offered near the lower/higher range will have better chances of selection.
7. Proposal Requirements
This is where you tell your corresponding vendors what you require of them. Every company you reach will have their own process and procedures. If you mention your desired proposal responses in a focused and articulate manner, not only will it help companies adhere to your requirements easily but you will be able to get standardized responses and make cross comparisons with other proposals more efficiently.
8. RFP and Project Timeline details Most of us make the mistake of just mentioning the project timeline. Yea, mentioning the launch date and everything related is important but you need to mention the RFP deadline as well. That way, your vendors will know when they will be hearing from you. For every milestone you decide on, make sure you choose realistic dates.
Remember: if you find yourself struggling with a long-winded RFP, chances are that other companies will hate reading your RFP. It takes up a lot of time and effort to review and respond to an RFP, especially if it is not well-constructed. If you want quality responses, you need to come up with a quality document.
At CitrusBits, we take time to provide feedback on every RFP we receive, whether or not we ultimately decide to take on a project. If you find yourself struggling to find the right company for your project, we encourage you to get in touch and let us know how we might help.
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