Welcome to the latest segment in RSG's "Real Story Vendor Procurement" (RSVP) best practice series. Today I'm going to review developing your Request for Proposal (RFP), sometimes referred to as a "solicitation" or a "tender." This effort will set the stage for the entire vetting process, so take the time to get it right.
Here is an example [download sample RFP] with some generic content as a guide. In general, you'll want to include seven key segments to any RFP. Let's go through them one at a time.
Seven Key Segments to an RFP
First you want to have a section on background and rationale for the project. It's critical for the vendor to understand the context of your work if you want them to provide truly relevant answers.
Enumerate the business objectives and what you're trying to achieve. Include useful details about your current environment and how it’s keeping you from getting there. Also describe what you’re looking for in terms of a partnership.
This is really the heart of your RFP, to-be business scenarios based on your unique needs. Don't dwarf your business requirements with technical details. For technical requirements that don't fit neatly into scenarios, use a Q&A format instead.
Obtain the basics about their size and capabilities, but also their methodology and approach. Understand their schedule of technology updates. Depending on the project, ask how they're going to staff it. Request references, ideally in your industry and/or firms your size.
Set a Schedule
Highlight the schedule from now all the way through to the final selection. Include a detailed schedule for the demo days and possible schedules for a Bake-off and potentially Proof of Concept (POC) as well.
Ask for Pricing
You want to normalize this as much as possible by giving the vendors specific categories to fill in. Also try to shape this as a multi-year exercise, so you understand the out-year costs in terms of licensing, maintenance, and support.
Request a Sample Contract
Or, if you typically use your own standard agreement, then share that and ask them if they have any problems with it. Either way, it's never too early to start a dialogue on terms and conditions.
If you're selecting digital marketing / engagement technology, be sure to check out RSG's hard-hitting vendor evaluation research.
The next part of our selection series covers the details of how to issue your RFP. Stay tuned...
Other Posts in the RSVP Selection Series
Establish Business Foundations
Identify Needs and Opportunities:
Conduct Market Analysis:
Communicate with Suppliers:
- Developing your RFP (you are here)
- Issuing an RFP Tender (coming next week)
- Bidder Questions (coming later)
- Evaluating Vendor Proposals (coming later)
Try Before You Buy:
- Conducting Demos (coming later)
- Filter to Final Lists (coming later)
- Run of Competitive Proof of Concepts (coming later)
Make the Right Choice
- Pilot Solution (coming later)
- Negotiating Pricing and Contracts (coming later)
- Implementation (coming later)