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Tips for Writing an RFP

Posted on September 26, 2011
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A request for proposal, more commonly referred to as an RFP, is an invitation or a document, which contains your requirements written in detail, and is used to urge vendors to make a bid in order to work on your project. Now, there are a few guidelines to follow when writing an RFP. Suppose you have decided to redesign your website. Your RFP is going to be a blueprint for the vendors. 

First of all it is very important for you to understand as to why you want to redesign your website and what you want to change. Also try to make a list of things that you need and that you merely want. These are two very different things and should be communicated to the vendor, so that emphasis can be first given to the changes that you need. The changes that you merely want can be an added advantage if done. Once you are sure of what are the things to be worked on, you start preparing the RFP. You can also have a budget in mind for the expenditure. 

Begin with writing an overview about your organization. Also include a brief description about the project. This can be as part of your introduction. You can also include the expertise you are looking for in a vendor and a deadline for the project. You can also talk about the means in which the vendors can bid for this project and what are the specific details to be included in their document. Also include a date when the bidding process will end.

Next, you can begin by giving a detailed introduction about your project. Mention why you want your website redesigned, what additional features you want to include, who are the people that work on this website, are they generally technically savvy people who can easily navigate through or are they people who want the website to be completely user friendly. You can also include the number of hits that are expected, so that the traffic can be easily managed. Its also important to include the project budget and schedule and if you would consider a phased approach.

Its important to list the changes to be implemented in detail. Mention every aspect of the change required. For example, you want to add a text box to capture the customer's email address. Be specific about including instructions mentioned on the page like a mail being sent to the email address for verification purpose; to make sure that the email id mentioned is valid. Also mention if you want check boxes like mail weekly newsletters and mail discounts offered for the week. 

Then include what platforms you want this website to work on, what kind of technology should be used while redesigning and building the website, what type of databases you want to be created and if the data captured should be stored on the database, what kind or server they should be capable of running on. Basically mention every detail about your expectations from the newly designed website. 

And then you can list the terms and conditions pertaining to the maintenance or in case the new design is not approved, what needs to be done. Mention how many days time will you need in order to evaluate the design and if the design is not accepted, then how many days time you would give the vendor to re-work on the design and submit the work with the required changes implemented. 

After you have written in detail  your project requirements, you can also mention the type of vendor you are looking for. Obviously we are looking for a vendor who can do quality work, but are we also looking for a vendor who is available for cheaper rates or are we ready to fore-go the cost because we are only looking for vendors with a good reputation in the market. Also mention if you are looking for vendors with expertise in a particular technology and whether you are looking for top players in the market who have being in the business for a certain number of years. 

You can end your RFP by mentioning the end date for the bidding process again and include details about how the bid details can be sent. Also include the address to which these details from the vendors should be sent.

Ultimately, your RFP must contain all your thoughts or ideas put in writing. Writing an RFP is a complex process and definitely is time consuming. Its all about how well you can prioritize your ideas and work methodically, without leaving any room for doubt. 

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