Responding to a Request for Proposals (RFP)
A request for proposal, or RFP, is a document that an entity (typically a business or government) uses to announce a project and get bids or proposals from folks interested in completing the work. An RFP typically outlines a project in detail, listing out the various roles and responsibilities of the eventual contract winner. This document will usually also include specifics about what should be included in each potential contractor’s proposal and if any additional documentation, licensing, or certifications are required.
For some community consultants, the process of participating in an RFP is familiar. For others, it’s completely new. Wherever you land on that spectrum of familiarity with RFPs, you are likely to agree that the process can feel daunting.
Like any process of getting a new client as a community consultant, RFPs are a nuanced and unique experience. Each RFP is different, and each business/government/organization putting out an RFP will have their own expectations and norms. While those expectations and norms should be spelled out in the RFP itself, it can definitely feel like you are shooting in the dark as you craft your proposal. Quick tips for responding to RFPs:
Pay attention to deadlines and the methods for submitting the required documents for the RFP.
If you have questions about any part of the RFP, do not hesitate to ask the contact person on the RFP. This doesn’t make you look bad, it makes you look thorough.
Make sure to include a short and sweet “About the Expert(s)” section for yourself and any subcontractors you will be engaging for the work.
Include a proposed timeline that is realistic, with the disclaimer that it is subject to change.
Attend any Q&A session that the Requestor is hosting about the RFP, even if you do not have questions. You may think of some, and attending gets you familiar with their team.
The CCC Advisory Board recently had the opportunity to participate in a closed RFP round. While the team is bound by an NDA, there are parts of the experience that we are able to share. Join us in our next general meeting on September 6th (click here to register) to hear more about our experience, share experiences of your own, and learn even more best practices for submitting proposals on RFPs.