If You Must… Creating a Quality RFP

While on the whole, I do not recommend using RFPs to find web site vendors, here are a few tips on how to create an RFP that consultants will be glad to respond to:

Consider hiring an industry professional to facilitate the RFP creation process. I know, this seems a little radical, but hear me out. Web site RFPs tend to include a laundry list of anything and everything you might possibly want for your web site. This makes for long, confusing, and hard to compare proposals. If you spend some money creating a very specific, highly organized RFP, consultants will be thrilled to receive such a well thought out document and the proposals you receive will be much easier to compare.

Do your homework before you create or send out an RFP. Again, a little time spent on your end with your trusted management or advisory team or your marketing consultant will produce a more focused RFP document. The better your RFP, the better the proposals.

Include a target budget range in your RFP. I know, another radical idea. There is a rather prevalent school of thought that says NEVER reveal your budget to a vendor of any kind, as they will immediately and only answer that it will cost your maximum budgeted amount. I suppose there are providers out there who would do that. But, by not indicating your budget range for the project, you are wasting valuable time – both yours and that of potential providers. Providers come in all levels of skill, experience, and price. Be honest and up front about your budgetary expectations and you won’t waste time with proposals that are way outside your budget. You may also learn that your expected budget is completely unrealistic for the scope of work desired. Again, valuable information to get quickly.

Be clear about the process when you send out the RFP.
Providers should have a clear idea of what the process will be if they choose to submit a proposal. This should include when they will hear back from you – personally – about your decision.

Set a reasonable response deadline. Oftentimes, I will get an RFP that has less than a 10 business day turnaround deadline. Remember that reviewing an RFP takes time and the provider may need to consult with their team to decide if the project makes sense for them. By having a really short window, you may cause a potentially great provider to not respond. I would suggest a minimum of 3 weeks as the proposal deadline.

Bottom line: treat your vendors as you would want to be treated.

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