In the corporate world it is very common for a company to send out a request for proposal, also known as an RFP, whenever work of any substance needs to be performed, or the organisation is looking for product or service supply. The RFP is a more formal request for a quotation and even though it is far less common in the small business world, it can be used with success to help you find a top class virtual assistant resource these days.
Indeed, if you use an RFP it can often help you to gather together the information you need and present it in such a format that will yield fewer possibilities for confusion and in turn net you some more comprehensive proposals.
Start off by distinguishing exactly what you need and take time to fine tune this section. Be realistic and don’t request a proposal for a service that is not really necessary, or could be completed more reasonably in some other fashion. It’s important also to distinguish what is absolutely necessary from what is optional. In other words, items that are essential should be categorised by using words like “must” and “will,” while something that is optional should prompt you to use words like “may.”
Split up your RFP into different sections. To start off with you must have an introduction that outlines why you are publishing the document and what you are trying to achieve. Here you will also summarise the due date for submission of the proposal.
In the next section you have to go into detail about all the requirements necessary for consideration. For example how will work be presented, how will it be transmitted, do you require certain formats or adherence to recognised principles, etc. Don’t leave any room for ambiguity if you want to receive meaningful and comparable estimates.
In the next section you may want to indicate the criteria you will use to select the winning bidder. You should be prepared to compare all the proposals that you receive on the same, level playing field, according to the depth of the presentation, the experience of the bidder, reputation and of course price.
In the next section indicate the date by which you must receive the RFP in order for it to be considered. Don’t set deadlines that are too onerous and understand that the larger the RFP the more time it will take to create a detailed response. Furthermore, by giving a reasonable amount of time for those responding to prepare their documents you can be more assured of a higher quality field from which to select.
Before you get ready to send out your RFPs to your shortlist of candidates, finish off by telling them when the documents received will be assessed and when the contract, if appropriate, will be awarded. The more effort that you put into creating your RFP the less time you will have to spend going back and forth with potential candidates to ask follow-up questions.
Have you ever used RFP’s or indeed answered an RFP? ~ what was your experience?