RFPs: Everything You Need to Know About the RFP Process

*Note: Scoring doesn’t have to exist solely in the shared strategy. Creating a scoring system for proposal evaluation of any type can help your team take opinions out of the process and instead apply an objective grading system. Decide what you value most, and give those sections the most weight. 

For example, if someone’s experience is of most importance to your team, score it out of 30, while you might score a bidder’s samples or price projections out of 10. This is merely a suggestion and will change depending on what’s important to your organization or project. 

Shortlisting:  In the RFP process, a short list is a narrowed group of bidders your organization has determined are fit for further consideration or negotiation. The shortlist is sometimes created after sending out an RFI, while other organizations create their shortlist after the screening or scoring process has been completed. Once your team has carefully gone through submissions, you can sift out the candidates you wish to continue considering. These are your go-to’s, or your short list.

Negotiations:  Perhaps you’ve narrowed your choices down to two bidders, but you’re curious if you can negotiate on price or timeline. This is one of your final windows to do that. Once you’ve decided on a bidder, it’s implied that you are okay with many details listed in their proposal. 

Granted, you can always make negotiations during contract development. But the bidder knows they’ve been chosen at that point, and may not be as willing to change certain terms or agreements. Although you should never take advantage of the people vying for your business, this is a good time to gauge their flexibility before you finalize a decision.  

If there are stipulations keeping you from deciding between your final options, take this time to reach out and ask additional questions. Receiving more clarity on details can only help both business parties.

In some instances, you can invite bidders to submit a Best and Final Offer (BAFO), which goes into the details of their technical and financial proposals. This step is optional and precedes contract negotiation. A BAFO can be used as a tiebreaker or as an opportunity for bidders to re-address unclear proposals. Essentially, if the proposals submitted are not enough for a stakeholder to make a decision, BAFOs may be requested.

Do not invite every bidder to submit a BAFO unless you are still considering every bidder. BAFOs are requested in the late stages of decision-making and are only submitted to further convince you of a bidder’s desire and capacity to win your project. BAFOs are treated like an additional proposal and are evaluated and scored in a similar manner.

Responses:  It’s the moment everyone has been waiting for: You’re ready to notify your contacts of the final decision. The original RFP is a blur in the recesses of your mind. Your dreams have been filled with proposals for days.

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