Request for Proposal (RFP) tips

A well-thought out Request for Proposal (RFP) will ensure that the outcome that you are expecting is achieved. A badly constructed document will create gaps in the data you receive as well as provide unnecessary input and in some cases, the wrong information.

These sections are required in your RFP :

  • Statement of purpose. A short explanation of what you require, why you are doing this and what is your intended outcome. A broad outline of the timeframe should be given here.
  • Introduce your Company. Any prospective bidder wants to know who they are dealing with. As much information as is appropriate should be given, including locations, divisions, size of each operation etc.
  • The procurement process. Explain how each activity will work starting from sending out the RFP through to awarding the contract. Include any compulsory briefing meetings, if there will be a short listing of suppliers required to make face-to-face presentations etc.
  • The timeline. Try to be clear about how long the process will take. Closing dates should be given for submitting the intention to bid and for submitting the completed RFP. To be fair to suppliers, make sure that you allow enough time for the responses, if time is too short, the responses will be poor.
  • Explain the deliverables you require from the supplier. This may include their submission of a plan of action, how where and when to deliver, how much stock to hold, what type and frequency of reports you need.
  • Pricing template. Best practice shows that you should provide the supplier with a pre-designed format where he must input his pricing offer. This is so that comparisons can be made easily from one supplier’s offer to another and so that no elements of the price are left out.
  • Contract Terms and Conditions. Ideally, include a pro-forma contract document so the supplier can comment on your terms. It should include payment terms, any penalties and incentives, price escalation mechanism if any, breach of contract rules, dispute resolution etc.
  • The award criteria. It is good practice to explain in general terms how the selection of a supplier will be made. What will be the weighting for price, quality, service delivery? Explain the negotiation process, if any, and whether it is confidential or not.
  • RFP Appendices. Any additional and supporting information, diagrams and drawings, technical and packaging specifications and where to send queries should be included in appendices.
  • Use simple understandable language. This is not the place to showcase a wide vocabulary or use complex language. Try to explain your requirements concisely and in short sentences for easy reading.