Finding the perfect supplier and solution to fulfill any business requirement can be cumbersome and stressful. However, leveraging a sourcing initiative such as a Request for Proposal or Request for Information (RFP,RFI) can help you effectively evaluate the market and its supply base and find the right fit partner(s) and program(s) to satisfy your business objectives. 

Depending on the commodity, service, and depth of the requirement one or multiple strategies can be used. As an RFP encompasses many elements to address and inquire about qualitative and quantitative aspects of supplier capabilities, I want to offer some insight into best practices for writing an effective RFP. 

The RFP should allow you to clearly communicate your specifications, goals and objectives, wants vs. needs, and what is and is not acceptable. Below are some of the critical areas of inclusion recommended that will result in obtaining the right information and therefore allowing you to make an informed decision.

  • Define your project: Explain your business and the reason for the release of the RFP. Brief suppliers on the current state and overall project requirement.
  • An introduction, business overview: What is your business (services or products provided) and what are your values? Is there something unique that should be part of the consideration and selection? You want to ensure bidders align with your vision and company values.
  • Outline the expectations: What are your business goals and objectives? What do you foresee the end state looking like? Make suppliers aware of any paint points you are looking to address or incumbent problems under consideration. This might be something straight forward like replacing old equipment with modern services or it can be more complex and strategic such as replacing workforce resources and services with an outsourced solution that requires various teams to be involved and requires a heavier investment from all parties involved. 
  • The format/style the suppliers should respond with: What are the expectations for the responses? Are there attachments to be populated or specific documents to be submitted? Will demos or POCs be expected?
  • What are the criteria suppliers will be evaluated on? You should look to be extremely specific and categorize each section elaborating on goals and metrics being used. This can help to guide the suppliers to be more explicit with responses and mitigate the sales fluff. 
    • If there are rules around using or not using 3rd party supplier assistance in the RFP make that a separate clear section.
    • If there is special consideration for women owned, veteran owned etc. suppliers, this should be outlined as well. 
  • Outline any potential roadblocks that might delay a decision or allowances for scope change during the RFP and selection process. 
  • State your budget: Although this might be a very conservative number, you should try to set some expectation to what value you have assigned to this project. There are going to be some suppliers who will talk around budget and total cost until they move into next stages, but those who really want and deserve the business will try to work within your confines or be honest early on if they cannot. 
  • Define all timelines and response processes: What are the timelines for each stage of the RFP? Do your best to set expectations for next steps including additional timing for demos and conversations, down-selection, and award. Make sure you provide clear instructions on where responses should be submitted and how all communications should be handled. Providing detailed information in this section can eliminate unnecessary and numerous follow ups from the bidders.
The above sections are just the tipping point to set the stage of your deeper dive inquiry. More to come in my next Blog in looking at the Questionnaire itself and how to ask the right questions and get the right answer in support of your overall decision making.

If you can include the above and be transparent to bidders, you are more likely to mitigate responses from those suppliers who cannot fulfill the request, minimize some of the sales jargon, and ensure responses are on time, within budget, and offer winning solutions. 

Your efforts will help to reflect your expectations for an effective response.

Share To:

Leigh Merz

Post A Comment:

0 comments so far,add yours