Your object in preparing a value-driven request for proposal (RFP) is to find the smartest, most-experienced company that can solve your problem. For such a company at the top of its field, the biggest risk is not actually doing the work because they have done it many times before and have solved real problems that crop up in doing so.
For a smart, experienced company, the biggest variable risk is YOU, the owner. The company may skip responding to your RFP and stick with customers who are less risk If they detect any of the following:
- You appear not to know what you really want: murky requirements and statement of work.
- You seem poorly organized: badly written RFP.
- You provide no idea of how well they will score or if you imply that the fix is in for some preferred supplier: ambiguous selection criteria.
So, if the best companies decline to participate in the RFP process, you end up selecting from the field of second- and third-stringers. Yes, you may pay a lower cost up front (contractor inexperience or attempt to ramp up the change orders later) or even higher cost (to cover uncertainty) but you will live with the result long term. After all, you're doing value-driven RFP because you care about cost AND quality.
Consider this evaluation/selection criterion from an actual government RFP:
This sort of criterion is unevaluable and has the potential to cause at least three problems.
- Potential proponents will have no idea if they stand a good chance of getting high points because they have no idea what you are really looking for. Should they take a chance, spend thousands of dollars, and bid? Unless they're really hungry, they'll probably stick to safer bets and skip this RFP.
- The evaluation committee will argue over how to allocate points. Is a bachelor's degree in science worth 60 points? Why not 67 or 85 points? And what if one proposed team member has a PhD in engineering? How many team members have to have what level of education? If there is a secret evaluation guide, that's a problem because, well... it's secret.
- The debriefing of the proponents will be difficult and potentially messy. Could you easily say with a straight face, "I know you proposed five team members each with a PhD in engineering or physics, but we were looking for people with degrees in science. So we gave you an arbitrary score of 10 just so you wouldn't have zero."
None of these scenarios end very well, some of them possibly in court. You don't want to be there. Instead, you can build on TimmiT's expertise in multiple levels of government and private sector procurement to
- decide if you're even on the right track (an RFP might not be the best approach),
- evaluate your standard RFP template to see what needs to change for your specific requirement (e.g., demonstrations and confirmatory visits as part of the evaluation),
- write your statement of work to be clear, effective, and useful both for proponent and for you,
- structure your evaluation criteria to be objective and easily evaluable,
- run your evaluation process fairly and transparently (but only if your evaluation criteria are objective), possibly as fairness monitor,
- provide useful and satisfactory feedback to your proponents (but only if your evaluation criteria are objective and your evaluation is run fairly),
- assist in negotiation of your contract (but only if it's a negotiated RFP process), and
- train your staff to do any/all of the above.