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Any individual, small business, or even large company that is new to the RFP process can easily become confused by all of the different terms and verbiage. In order to accurately and completely respond to any request, it is necessary to have a complete understanding of what is involved in that request.
As the technological revolution gains steam, pun intended, the RFP is becoming an increasingly important part of Business Process Outsourcing and maintaining business growth and operational stability. Both the Private Sector and the Public Sector (governments) are increasingly turning to these requests in order to gather information, build databases, and award contracts to vendors.
For the average business and anyone who hopes to be able to build on the back of government contracts, this means that there is an increasing need to actively engage in proposal writing. This means that there is an increased importance in establishing a comprehensive understanding of the entire process behind these requests.
This begins by having a complete and accurate understanding of the many different types of proposals, their purpose, and the reasons they are important for your continued business growth and expansion.
The first request type is what is known as a Request For Information or RFI. The RFI is, as the name implies, nothing more than a request for information. It is however, a detailed and specific request for information.
The ultimate purpose for a request for information may vary. The two most common reasons for issuing an RFI are to build a database of potential vendors or to determine new and improved methods, products, or services.
*There may be instances where the issuer is putting together a database or creating a list of potential vendors for different reasons. In such cases, it is possible that different vendors with the same expertise will all be retained or “accepted” in some fashion by the vendor, regardless of whether or not any actual contract may be established as a result of the RFI.
The RFP is a Request For Proposal that asks for a complete and detailed proposal based on very specific parameters. An answer to the RFP comes in the form of a written business proposal that is written in full accordance with the guidelines set forth in the RFP.
The RFP is used by the issuer to determine which vendors may be suitable for specific roles and the provision of goods or services that are needed by the issuer. As was briefly noted before, the RFP is becoming increasingly common in the private sector as well, as more businesses turn to Business Process Outsourcing or BPO in order to facilitate more stable business operations in times of global crises.
The RFQ is a Request for Quotation and may also commonly be known as an Invitation to Bid or a Request for Bid.
The RFQ is generally used to provide the issuer with a selection of vendors for specific goods or services. The RFQ is different from the RFP as the issuer may be selecting multiple vendors rather than relying on a single bid winner as is generally the case with an RFP.
One common factor among all of these requests is the need to follow compliance to the letter. When a request states that it requires size 9 Arial fonts with single spacing, or page limitations, or other restrictions, it is there for a reason.
If you cannot follow the comparatively simple directions of the Request, it is expected that you would not likely be able to remain within the compliance in other areas either.
Furthermore, as is always the case when people are handing out money, there are often a great many people with their hands out, proverbially speaking anyhow.
This is especially true with government Requests and even most grants. While this is not the only way that the potential vendors are short-listed, it is among the first steps in getting rid of as many proposals as possible without actually having to review them completely.
When everything is said and done, your best bet is to establish a meaningful and comprehensive Go/No-Go decision-making process. This allows you to carefully consider every aspect of each request individually, and determine whether or not to pursue the endeavor.
Perhaps the best and most comprehensive single method for making a go/no-go decision, is parsing the request and determining if you have a realistic chance of winning the bid. This also provides you with the opportunity to consider any additional costs that would be required, and determining whether or not your company can afford to win the bid.
Each of these decisions is the result of considering many different individual factors, but then again, that is the ultimate purpose for the Requests to begin with. In this way, you can look at the Request from each angle and give careful consideration to every aspect. Once you have all of the relevant information at hand, you can decide whether or not to pursue the Request, no matter what type of request.