Planning to Prepare the Project Request for Proposal (RFP)

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.

The RFP - A Tool for Project Procurement

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.

The Value of the Project Request for Proposal

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):

  • Forces a defined specification of project requirements.
  • Provides "context" for a comparative analysis of vendors, products, costs and services.
  • Promotes informed decision-making.
  • Provides an opportunity for vendor interaction prior to any purchasing commitments.
  • Promotes successful contract negotiations, providing the basis for all contractual terms and conditions.
  • Establishes a standardized basis for solutions evaluation, using a structured set of evaluation criteria.
  • Promotes consideration of creative solutions, opening up "possibilities" and leveraging external expertise.

It All Starts With an RFP Process

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:

  • Phase #1 - RFP Planning. The RFP process is planned, including the selection of the RFP Team, identification of the chosen bidders, creation of the RFP timeline, requirements development and creation of the response evaluation criteria.
  • Phase #2 - RFP Preparation. During this stage the RFP draft is prepared and produced using the designated and appropriate format.
  • Phase #3 - RFP Review. The RFP draft is reviewed to ensure that all documentation requirements are met, and comments and feedback are provided.
  • Phase #4 - RFP Revision. The RFP draft is revised to reflect required changes as identified in the "review" phase.
  • Phase #5 - RFP Approval.  The revised RFP is approved by all decision making stakeholders and the final version is produced.
  • Phase #6 - RFP Distribution and Support. The approved RFP is distributed to the selected bidders, and submission support is provided as needed, including an RFP bidders conference (if required).
  • Phase #7 - RFP Response Evaluation. Received RFP responses are reviewed and evaluated according to the established criteria.
  • Phase #8 - RFP Selection. The RFP winning proposal and alternative are selected, and the documented RFP is used to create a documented project Statement of Work (SOW) as needed. The losing bidders are notified to close the RFP process.

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.

More on Projects and Project Management

Getting Projects Defined for Action and Approval

In order to have any realistic shot at a successful project, (delivered on time and on budget) the overall vision, work effort and expected result must first be fully defined --- i.e. broken down into small, manageable and actionable parts. This article provides a practical overview of the definition process, putting "project definition" into context and perspective.  Read More

Testing Deliverables: Validating Form, Function and Success

Testing is essential to the success of any technology project. Despite the best technical plans and designs, problems, errors and bugs do occur. And, in the interests of all concerned, all reasonably evident problems should be uncovered and resolved long before a given deliverable is put "in production".  This article explores the various "testing options" available.  Read More

Learn more about the Service Strategy Toolkit from



If you are, then you need the IT Service Strategy Toolkit from! The Toolkit teaches you how to "add value" to IT projects and services -- using our time-saving "service strategy process". It's ready for instant download, filled with 400+ pages of steps, guidelines, practices and templates. Find Out More

Featured Management Topic: Project Fast Tracking

Strategic fast tracking is a streamlined project management process, used to level the playing field when "project problems" get in the way of on-time success. Our informative "fast tracking" article series explains more:

Part 1: What is Strategic Fast Tracking?

Part 2: Evaluating Projects for Fast-Track-Ability

Part 3: Pinpointing Project Priorities

Get an illustrated view of the fast tracking process in the "Step-by-Step to a Fast Tracked Project" infographic.

Articles, Tips & Offers Right to Your Inbox

Sign up for the newsletter and be the first to know about our latest blog articles, templates, white papers, infographics, and special offers.

We won't overload your inbox and we don't share or sell subscriber information. Just enter your email address below.