Trimming the Fat from Your RFP by Asking the Right Questions

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Writing a Request for Proposal (RFP) is all about asking the right questions. Knowing what to ask can mean the difference between your RFP getting noticed and selected or getting passed over for another. Rather than bulking up your RFP with every question you think you might need an answer to, pare it down to ask only the most important questions. Here are a few tips on getting to the meat of your RFP by targeting the right areas.


Let Them Know If You’re Open to Suggestions

Knowing the organization you are appealing to will go a long way toward determining the scope of your RFP. Make it clear in your request whether you are seeking creative solutions to your particular business challenges or if you are open to change, advises Biz Journals. Although RFPs often set forth specific criteria, other solutions you haven’t considered might be more effective. Be sure to mention whether you’re open to suggestions, even if you’re confident that yours is the best solution to the problem at hand. This keeps the dialogue open, giving you a better chance to be heard and considered.

Make Your Priorities Clear

Time, cost and quality of work are the main priorities for most companies, but they can’t all compete for the same space. One will tend to be more urgent than the others, either for your business or for theirs. It’s best to set those priorities down in writing right out of the gate so you know how to narrow down your options and refine your RFP. This means that if your main focus is on quality, you will likely have to be flexible on the other conditions, perhaps allowing the project to take a little longer or to cost a little more. Targeting your RFP to the best type of firm for your needs means doing some research on other vendors to find the best match in terms of priorities.


Narrow it Down

Because there are so many vendor types out there with different competencies and areas of focus, you’ll have to weigh the benefits of strategically-focused firms with creative ideas and solutions against working with more tactically-focused firms that tout pre-designed solutions. As such, it’s important to be clear about the type of company you’re searching for. The main focus of any effective RFP should include capabilities, scope and deliverables. Spend some time outlining your ideas as far as the competencies, mission, skills, goals and schedule you’re interested in.


Be Concise and Write Well

Too often, companies writing RFPs concentrate too much on what is being offered and not enough on how it is offered, but presentation is as important as content. A well-written and clearly organized RFP will go a long way towards impressing the reader; a smooth, logical request that shows a high level of attention to detail will always be more attractive and receive more attention than a hastily-prepared one. Avoid buzzwords and stock terms that do nothing to inform the reader they will only serve to bore them. Instead, keep in mind that less is indeed more and focus on targeting the stated questions with no unnecessary embellishment. If you can make yourself clear in one paragraph, there’s no need to include six.


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These tips will help you write a stellar RFP that will get lots of attention and help get your company the services it needs. Good luck!