When confronted with a murky or poorly written request for proposal (RFP), you have to decide how badly you want the business of what may prove to be a difficult-to-deal-with customer. Uncertainty and disorganization are costly. You will probably reflect that in your price if you really need the contract.
If you do decide to provide a proposal in response to an RFP, don't be afraid to ask questions to clarify ambiguities and understand whatever you need to prepare a useful response. Ask these questions as early as possible in the RFP process after reading the RFP thoroughly. Clearly understanding the evaluation/selection process is essential.
Once you have decided that you are going to respond to an RFP and you are sure you can deliver on the statement of work, concentrate on the evaluation criteria. Examine each one carefully to ensure you know how the evaluation committee will be awarding scores. Then provide the information in your proposal they need to do that. Yes, that might sound obvious but many proposals don't actually answer the question. Irrelevant proposals in response to ambiguous criteria are not the foundation for a happy contract.
Avoid large volumes of company or product marketing material in a proposal if they are not directly related to specific evaluation criteria. They're just a waste of time and money. Ensure you use consistent terminology and correct spelling throughout. Again, that might seem obvious but it's often not the practice. While the evaluation committee should score criteria objectively, they will not be favourably swayed in marginal circumstances by sloppy disorganization.
See the TimmiT article The Winning Proposal for different look at this.
- help you decide which questions to ask and even if you should bid when faced with a murky RFP
- objectively review your proposal, especially your response to the evaluation criteria, to make sure you are providing material that will actually be useful in the evaluation of your proposal
- edit your proposal to ensure consistency in tone, terminology, and spelling to present your best face to the ones who will be evaluating your proposal
TimmiT understands the tight time limits and deadlines in the RFP process. If you need TimmiT's services, contact us as early as possible in the process. We might not be able to react on very short notice due to other commitments.
TimmiT editing, writing, procurement