Now that you have the RFP, discover how to manage the RFP review process more efficiently. Managing the full proposal process is time-consuming, and RFP review is no exception. In this article, learn the most critical components of an RFP and how to streamline your RFP review process with effective skill and the right RFP software.
What is an RFP?
An RFP, in short, stands for request for proposal. Organizations or government agencies issue RFPs to procure external resources for a project or need that cannot be fulfilled with internal resources. Vendors respond to the RFP with proposals that detail solutions to the issuing organization’s problem.
A request for information (RFI) will often precede an RFP process to help organizations and government agencies weed out noncontenders and streamline vendor selection.
Why RFP Review Matters Most
Whether you are an experienced proposal writer or a business owner trying to win a new contract, RFP review is one of the most critical stages of the proposal development lifecycle.
RFPs – the well-written ones at least – provide a full picture of the issuing organization’s requirements and what the selected vendor can expect upon contract award. You have to read the RFP (rocket science right?), understand it, and then determine the next steps for a response.
Many vendor proposals fall short because they don’t have a clear understanding of the RFP. Think about it. If someone emailed you a reply that had zero to do with your original request, what would be your first action? DELETE.
Avoid potentially losing a new contract and wasting valuable time. Use these tips to help you understand the RFP, critically evaluate proposal management tools, and manage the RFP review process more efficiently:
#1 Maintain Clear Understanding of Vendor Capabilities
The easiest way to streamline the RFP review process is to pinpoint what opportunities are outside of the scope of vendor capabilities. You know what skills and services you offer. It is no sense responding to an RFP that requires even one thing beyond the scope of what you can provide unless you have subcontracting partnerships.
Keep a vendor capabilities matrix for quick reference, or simply talk to management to ask why you are responding to the RFP in the first place.
Disqualify the RFPs that do not fit your capabilities and save yourself the headache.
#2 Pay Attention to the Critical Sections First
Read the full RFP to gain a complete understanding. However, when it comes to efficiency, it will save you a great amount of time to pay attention to the most critical sections of the RFP based on your role.
For instance, as a proposal writer or bidder, the sections that require your immediate attention include:
- Scope & Background
- Technical Requirements
- Evaluation Criteria
As the business owner or account personnel, you first want to understand:
- Scope & Background
- Cost Requirements
- Terms and Conditions
Focus on the areas that matter to your role. In the chance that you are the primary resource for most of the proposal development lifecycle, it’s safe to pay attention to the Scope and Terms first.
#3 Spotlight Red Flags
There are certain cost requirements or terms that the vendor cannot meet. Along with disqualifying bids due to vendor capabilities, you also want to spotlight red flags that may very well be the reason your vendor is not chosen. A red flag could be fixed priced contractual terms when you usually require hourly-rate pricing.
Talk to management as soon as you spotlight the red flags to avoid issues in the future and track them for later reference in your proposal management software.
#4 Shred the RFP to Facilitate Review
To manage the RFP review process more efficiently, you need support. Government RFPs can exceed 200 pages in many cases, and one person reading that much information, dissecting it to understand, and then responding to it within the limited timeframe available is not feasible.
Shred the RFP into manageable sections to assign team members or other resources for review and map requirements into your compliance matrix. Rather than review page-by-page, shred the sections that require immediate attention.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to manage the RFP review process more efficiently is to leverage the right technology in the best proposal management software to help you complete these tasks.