The Request for Proposal (RFP) is an important "project procurement deliverable", used to solicit competitive bids prior to the purchase of project related goods and services. You don't always need an RFP to make those purchases, but when you do, you need a good one - designed to support informed decision making and return on investment. Read on for more.
What is an RFP? The RFP deliverable (produced as a form or document) is a formal procurement mechanism, by which requirements are defined, questions are posed and criteria are presented. Bidders respond to these requirements, questions and selection criteria, providing the basis for an informed analysis of clearly defined alternatives.
Once RFP's are prepared, distributed and responded to, said responses are evaluated, and purchasing decisions are made. As such, under the right set of project needs and circumstances, the RFP is an essential part of the project "procurement" process. The RFP is a tool within a project, and as with every other project "process", RFP production creates an overhead factor, elongating the overall project timeline. As such, the full blown RFP should only be utilized when needed to ensure project success.
In a world of options and choices, the RFP is an effective decision-making tool, designed to ensure that the most viable solutions, and competent providers are given due consideration.
A standardized approach to preparing the project "Request for Proposal" offers a number of substantial and tangible benefits (both for the project team and the project itself):
In order to maximize process success, RFP production should cover eight (8) key management components, from planning to proposal selection. Each component is summarized below:
As with most other process deliverables, the project RFP is best prepared through a collaborative process, structured for a full consideration of needs and requirements. The key elements to RFP process "success" are timing and preparation. The RFP process can begin as soon as the foundational requirements are fully defined. Obviously, sound purchasing decisions cannot be made until all needs, assumptions and constraints are known and quantified.
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