A request for proposal, or RFP, allows you to collect offers from various vendors who can provide goods or services your business needs. To identify the right vendor, you need an effective, detailed RFP so you can quickly and easily evaluate vendor capabilities.
This guide helps you understand what a request for proposal is, what you should include, how to write one, and includes a free RFP template.
What Is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?
An RFP is a document you create when you need to buy products or services from vendors. You’re openly announcing that you have funding available for a program or project, or to purchase products or services. Interested companies or vendors respond by placing bids for that project or those services. This form should help you gain as much information as possible about the products or services you wish to buy, so you can make an informed decision.
What Needs to Be Included in a Request for Proposal (RFP)?
- Background and introduction
- Project name and overview
- Problem to be solved (Goals and scope)
- Point of contact
- How and where vendors submit proposals
- Timeline constraints
- Elements to include in the proposal
- Tasks to be completed by winning bidder
- Evaluation criteria
- Potential limitations
How to Write a Request for Proposal (RFP)?
When you follow a structured process for writing a request for proposal, it’s much more manageable. By following the steps outlined here, you’ll be able to write a more effective RFP.
1. Gather the Requirements for Your RFP
Before you start writing, you need to know what the requirements of your RFP are. These requirements are typically:
- Scope of the project
- Project goals
- Potential limitations
Identify what these requirements are before you begin drafting the proposal request because it will make writing the subsequent sections much easier.
2. Add Your Company Name and Contact Information
Your request for proposal should state who it’s for and how to get in touch with your company.
3. Provide Company Background and Portfolio
An RFP should persuade vendors to bid on your project. Give them a full picture of your company, including your history, mission, goals, target customers, sales performance, and other pertinent information that will help organizations decide if they’d like to work with you.
4. Describe the Services or Products You’re Requesting
State specifically what you’d like the vendor to do or provide. If you aren’t sure of exactly what you need, go back to step one and gather RFP requirements again.
5. Provide Project Details and Project Name
After you’ve indicated which exact products or services you require, describe the reason you require them. What will your company do with these products or services and why should vendors bother proposing? Also, give your project a name to make it easier to describe.
6. Indicate the Goal of the Project
Describe what you hope to accomplish with the products or services the vendor will provide. Are you trying to make your business run more smoothly, or expand an offering to your customers? Include these goals in the proposal request.
7. Set a Scope for the Project
List the volume of products you require or the extent of the services you’re asking for.
8. Give a Proposed Timeline and Set Milestones
Include a realistic timeline divided into chunks so vendors can easily compare it to their own schedules and determine if they’d be a good fit.
9. State When Bids Are Due
Choose a deadline for bids that gives you enough time to evaluate each one carefully.
10. Provide a Point of Contact for Your Company
Describe how proposals should be submitted. Should vendors send them to a specific person or department? Include those details in the RFP.
11. Indicate What a Proposal Must Include
Finally, include elements of a winning proposal. What should bidders include that will make it easier for you to evaluate?
The easiest way to write an RFP is to look at examples. If your company previously issued a request for proposal, you can work from it as a template. You can also use a document builder from Legal Templates, filling in your information and project details to create an RFP.
Request for Proposal (RFP) Sample
To help you write an effective proposal request, we’ve provided a free RFP template that you can modify for your business needs:
Request for Proposal
Tips for Writing a Request for Proposal
Consider the following factors to help you write a more professional, effective RFP:
- Collaborate: It’s likely more than one team will be impacted by the purchase that results from the RFP. Include all those teams into the writing process early, so you avoid delays or miscommunication later on.
- Create a template library: Keep a library of standard RFP templates and questions to ask that can help you write a new RFP more quickly.
- Choose the right document: Consider if a request for proposal is the right document for your needs, or whether a request for information, request for qualifications, or request for quotation might be more appropriate. If so, you may need to break it up into a multi-step process.
- Be transparent: Use clear, honest language in your RFP. Vagueness is frustrating for vendors.
- Customize: Always update and customize an RFP template. If you use an old RFP from a previous collaboration without making the necessary changes, it will confuse current vendors.
Why Do You Need a Request for Proposal?
Increased Number of Potential Bids
By putting out a formal RFP, you make it known publicly that you’re seeking particular products or services. When more potential vendors see your RFP, the number of bids you receive will increase, allowing you to make a better choice.
Encourages Competition Between Collaborators
An RFP creates a sense of competition between potential collaborators and encourages them to offer their best services and fairest rates. You end up getting high-quality work at a decent price.
The proposal request process is structured and when you handle it correctly, it allows for smooth communication and better planning between you and your collaborator. The stakeholders in your business can also see how the project will go and the benefit it will have for the company.