How Do You Write an Effective RFP?
If you’ve ever issued an RFP, you understand very well the significant effort and capital that goes into executing one — from both your side and your RFP vendors. As such, both sides need to ensure they’re putting their efforts into the RFP process that gets the buyer a solution that meets their needs and allows the seller to acquire a new customer. A win-win for both parties.
For the RFP vendors, that means finding and bidding for RFPs they have a shot at winning. And for you, that means attracting the right RFP vendors in the first place.
But how exactly do you go about creating an RFP that will bring in those ideal RFP vendors? We’ve outlined a few strategies to attract the most qualified vendors to the table.
Be Clear to Your RFP Vendors About Your Objectives & Qualifications
Whether you work in healthcare, government, education, or any industry for that matter, the first step in attracting the right RFP vendors is by being very clear about your project objectives and the vendor qualifications that must be met.
Typically, your objectives and qualifications should be presented as well-defined sections in your RFP. When written clearly, these sections will help vendors determine if they’re even qualified to bid or not.
Here are a few tips to help you craft clear objectives and qualifications:
- Clearly outline your objectives with the project including your near and long-term goals.
- Describe the purpose of your project — is it to overcome a specific challenge or innovate in a certain area?
- Explicitly state the minimum qualifications you want (e.g. types of past project experience, credentials, licenses, certifications, etc.).
- Clearly outline the level of involvement and long-term commitment required (does that last only during project set-up or is ongoing management needed?).
Those RFP vendors who think they match the requirements will take the time and effort to submit.
Be Specific: Questions to Ask RFP Vendors
There’s no quicker path to attracting the wrong RFP vendors than by being vague in your questions. Often that vagueness comes when RFPs contain canned questions (used over and over from past RFPs).
As tempting as it may be, these sorts of generic questions add little to no value in terms of soliciting vendor responses that will help you determine their suitability for the project at hand.
Instead, skip the canned RFP questions and be specific. By being more specific and defined with your questions, you’ll receive more specific (and useful) responses.
Be Transparent in Your RFP Vendor Evaluation Criteria
Every RFP should provide transparency on how RFP vendors will be evaluated. By doing so, you’ll show vendors exactly what matters to you.
Evaluation transparency helps vendors decide if they have the goods to satisfy your values and will also ensure they provide adequate responses to demonstrate their suitability.
Asking open-ended questions when you have specific requirements in mind, only muddies the responses and may work against you in getting the information you need.