How to Find and Source RFPs

Finding the right Request for Proposal (RFP) can mark a major turning point for your business or organization. Billions of dollars in contracts are awarded each year through the RFP process, but in such a competitive landscape, it can be difficult to know where to begin one’s search. At The Bid Lab, we’re experts in identifying RFPs that strategically align with our clients’ business goals. If you are trying to find and source RFPs for your organization, here are several tips we’re happy to share.

Narrow the focus

When beginning your search for RFPs, there is nothing wrong with keeping an open mind and being optimistic; but, it is just as important, to quickly add specificity and purpose to your search. This will save you time and help you avoid becoming mired in a maze of lengthy, inapplicable PDF pages.

Start with clear industry targets in which your organization already has a solid footing, or has a specific plan to enter. Conduct a basic competitor analysis to better understand what you’re up against, i.e. who the major bid issuers are in the space, what the major requirements are, and how your competitors have been bidding. This background research will illuminate critical clues that will help you in your RFP efforts.

Embrace search-engine functionalities

For many people, databases, required logins, and google searching can be as daunting as lions, tigers and bears (oh my!). But have faith, armed with your newfound narrow focus, there are tricks you can employ to make digital resources work harder for you.

Curated databases like BidSync, GovernmentContracts.us, BidNet Direct and The RFP Database compile thousands of RFP bid opportunities into a centralized location, allowing you to browse opportunities quickly and efficiently. While it is true many of these tools require a membership, many of them also offer free trial periods, incredibly helpful search criteria to help you narrow results, and automatic notifications that send you opportunities based on specified keywords. The RFP Database, for example, does not require payment to use and can break down search results into helpful industry categories like Graphic Design, Building Materials, Data Management, and many more.

Another way to make the search process less arduous is to make better use of the array of tools Google offers in its platform. For example, narrow your search to easy-to-access PDF files by adding “filetype:pdf” to your search string in the Google search bar.

Additionally, many of the platforms mentioned offer search functionalities for dates posted. There is nothing much more frustrating than finding the perfect bid after hours of searching, only to realize it’s due in two days. Filter your results to only show bids posted in the last month. This will ensure your results are more relevant, and that you have time to respond effectively before the deadline arrives. Oftentimes, RFPs have pre-proposal conferences and question deadlines, so having bid in-hand as quickly as possible after it’s posted can be the difference between a winning and a losing proposal.

Get social

Social media can be more helpful in bidding than you may realize. Many social feeds – like our’s, @thebidlab – promote a variety of valuable RFP opportunities directly to their followers. But you can also source new RFPs by leveraging your own personal networks to find LinkedIn posts, for example, from bid issuers in your industry. Many organizations, especially private companies, use social media posts early on in their  RFP promotion process, so taking the time to search through your own networks can help give you a critical head start on the competition!

Additionally, browsing social networks can also help identify new organizational players in your industry. Then, by searching the procurement sections of these new targets’ websites, you may be able to identify new RFPs directly that others may have missed.

Stick with it, and don’t be afraid to ask for help

Even with a full suite of tools and tips, searching and sourcing RFPs can be demanding, and even overwhelming. But, it’s unquestionable that finding the perfect RFP can change the trajectory of your organization in a monumental way. When searching for your perfect RFP, stay positive and don’t give up! It is important to search efficiently, but investing time in the RFP process is as necessary as it is beneficial.

If you do find, however, that your RFP search is requiring a bit more time, resources, or experience than you and your team are able to give, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help. At The Bid Lab, we not only assist our clients in finding RFPs that strategically align with their business needs, but we also help manage their responses to ensure a win-worthy response.  

If you’re interested in learning more about what we do, or have questions about how we do it, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

University of North Texas Bid

The University of North Texas System (UNTS) is seeking proposals for Medical Sign Language Interpretation Services. UNTS is a University system that is composed of the University of North Texas in Denton (UNT), the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth and the University of North Texas at Dallas (UNTD). The UNT System Administration is based in downtown Dallas. The three independent universities of the UNT System have combined enrollment of just over 42,000 students across five major teaching locations, including each main campus as well as Frisco and downtown Dallas. Ideal vendors will be medical providers with the ability to provide all types of language assistance, including sign language, for patients in need. UNTHSC is seeking proposals from Contractors that are able to provide Medical sign language in its clinics as needed by appointment. Expertise in medical sign language is as vital as all other correct sign language interpretation to all patients. Questions must be asked by March 1st and finished proposals are due back to UNTS by March 14th. Should you have the qualifications necessary, The Bid Lab can navigate the proposal process on your behalf. Find out more about our Bid Manager service here.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bid

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is seeking capable vendors for the construction of the Human Engineering Laboratory, Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts. They are specifically looking for the capabilities of HUBZone, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, Woman-Owned and Small Businesses. This project will be to construct a new 80,600 SF laboratory building to include administrative space, laboratory space, network operations center and a soldier performance lab area. The project will also include a back-up power supply generator and related infrastructure such as a parking area, mechanical rooms, site improvements and utility connections. Construction will also require the demolition of two existing buildings. The offeror will be evaluated on past experience with similar-sized construction projects at active facilities or similar settings and must demonstrate expertise performing the construction of two (2) multi-story buildings exceeding $20 million in cost within the New England area on projects of similar size and project duration and the construction of projects on a secure military installation with secured gated access. The projected cost for this construction is between $40 and 50 million. Work will begin in June 2020 and will extend over a two-year period. Bids are due back March 12th. If you have the capabilities to tackle this project, The Bid Lab can engineer the response. Call (1-844-4BIDLAB) or email (respond@thebidlab.com) today!

New York State Department of Labor Bid

The New York State Department of Labor is seeking an application development service provider to develop updates and enhancements, as well as maintain the AOSOS (America’s One-Stop Operating System Project) software application suite on behalf of the Consortium. AOSOS is an automated, web-based, comprehensive case management and reporting system for workforce and economic development professionals who work with employers and job seekers. AOSOS is intended to provide all the functionality required to meet the business requirements of the following USDOL administered employment and training programs: WIOA, Wagner-Peyser (WP), Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG), and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). The NYS DOL wants to secure consulting services to assist NYSDOL, and its agent the Office of Information and Technology Services (ITS), in administering the America’s One-Stop Operating System (AOSOS) software application suite. NYSDOL, as the agent for the Consortium, will award a Contract to a service provider to support the continued use of the AOSOS software application suite by providing software development, maintenance and systems integration services, otherwise known as the “AOSOS Project”, for the Consortium. If you’re qualified to take on this project, proposals are due back by March 1st. The Bid Lab is here to help manage your response. Find out more about Bid Manager here.

Sedgwick County Kansas Bid

Sedgwick County, Kansas is seeking bids for on-call snow and ice removal services. Sedgwick County, located in south-central Kansas, is one of the most populous of Kansas’ 105 counties with a population estimated at more than 511,000 persons. It is the sixteenth largest in area, with 1,008 square miles, and reportedly has the second highest per capita wealth among Kansas’ counties. Organizationally, the County is a Commission/Manager entity, employs nearly 2,800 persons, and hosts or provides a full range of municipal services, e.g. – public safety, public works, criminal justice, recreation, entertainment, cultural, human/social, and education. Services acquired under this solicitation will include sidewalk and parking lot snow removal, and may include any/all facilities owned by Sedgwick County (all facilities are located within Sedgwick County). Snowfall accumulation in addition to safety of employees and constituents depending on the office will determine whether or not services are requested. Historically, sidewalks and other pedestrian areas are cleared as soon as snow/ice accumulates. The clearing of parking lots by large equipment is generally not required until snow accumulations exceed 6”; however, experience and industry standards, should guide the use of equipment/materials. Interested bidders should submit responses before February 26th. Experts ready to plow their way through this RFP can do so with The Bid Lab’s help! Get in contact with us today.

State Government of Nevada

The Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs seeks an interested firm to represent the State of Nevada as a contractor to promote the State as a travel destination to residents of Germany. A qualified applicant will have expertise in integrated marketing disciplines including sales, marketing, promotions and public relations and possess a strong understanding of the German traveler. The State is seeking a contract term of four (4) years, anticipated to begin July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2023. Activities during the engagement include developing a market-specific strategic plan, coordinating in-market visits, scheduling media interviews, developing a media list, contacting on a regular basis, travel agencies, tour operators and airlines that sell the State of Nevada, developing press kits, representing Nevada in trade shows, conducting traditional and social media outreach, creating Nevada-specific collateral for distribution, maintaining a Nevada website that’s on-brand and producing quarterly report addressing KPIs and objectives. In lieu of a pre-bid conference, vendors will be allowed to submit questions via Q&A until Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. Answers will be posted on or about March 5, 2019. Proposals are due back March 14th. The Bid Lab’s Bid Manager can assist in your response to this exciting opportunity!

State Government of Maryland Bid

The Calvin T. Johnson Maryland Department of Health Office of Procurement and Support Services is seeking a qualified vendor to provide for the total operation of the Dietetic Department at the Eastern Shore Hospital Center (ESHC). The ideal candidate will be able to offer clinical nutrition, food, and dietetic department services. Additionally, the vendor will operate a pay cafeteria and satellite cafe for employees, staff, and visitors, as well as offer catering services for outside groups using hospital facilities. The ideal contractor will develop a comprehensive Policy and Procedure Manual specific to the needs of the Dietetic Department. The ESHC is a licensed eighty-four (84) bed adult residential psychiatric facility located in Cambridge, Maryland. It is one of the facilities administered by the Behavioral Health Administration, Maryland Department of Health. In November 2008, this facility transitioned from a state run dietary operation to a managed service operation. ESHC resides in a single, one-story structure, built in 2001. The kitchen, washing area, and storage area are located entirely in this building; however, approximately 40% of the patients of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center are unable to come to the cafeteria and require meals to be served in their housing units. A qualified vendor must be a Registered Dietitian with the Commission on Dietetic Registration and be licensed by the Board of Dietetic Practice, State of Maryland. Interested parties must submit bids prior to February 21st via mail to the Maryland Department of Health Office of Procurement and Support Services. If you have the resources to meet these qualifications, but not to submit a bid response, get in touch with The Bid Lab today!

Department of the Army Bid

The Department of the Army is seeking to lease approximately 3,000 square feet of existing Class A or B office or retail space in the Webster, TX area for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Qualified spaces will have designated or open parking to accommodate at least seventeen (17) vehicles and conform with local, state and federal ordinances; force protection standards must comply with Department of Defense’s Unified Facility Criteria (rear secondary egress is mandatory). Expressions of interest should include the building’s name and address, floor plan drawings, digital street photos of the property, building area (BOMA rentable and usable square feet), rental rate per square foot of rentable area, and a common area factor for available space, if applicable. The following limits represent the delineated area: Northern Limit: 12621 Featherwood Drive, Southern Limit: 800 FM 517 Rd East, Eastern Limit: 151 North Friendswood Drive, Western Limit: 1905 El Mar Lane. An initial five year lease is proposed and the space should be ready for occupancy on or before August 1, 2019. Bids are due back February 8th. If you’re interested in submitting a response for this bid, but could use some assistance in meeting the requirements, our Bid Manager service is here to help.

Department of Justice

The Federal Bureau of Prisons, Field Acquisition Office is looking for a qualified vendor to provide vocational programs, including electrical, plumbing, and diesel for inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) EL Reno, Oklahoma. All services will take place at FCI El Reno located at 4025 US Highway 66 West, El Reno, Oklahoma 73036. The contractor will provide seven (1) hour sessions per day, 5 days per week, Monday through Friday (excluding Federal Holidays) between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. All necessary supplies, student texts, and classroom materials that the contractor may routinely need shall be provided by the Education Department at the institution. A qualified vendor shall be recognized by the Department of Education as an Accredited Institution of Post Secondary Education. Vendors will provide the following programs for inmates: Vocational Technical Electrical Program, Vocational Diesel and Technician Program, and a Vocational Plumbing Program. It is anticipated that the contract resulting from this solicitation will be awarded by April 1, 2019 with an effective date of June 1, 2019. Necessarily, responses are due back February 4th. The Bid Lab can help you prepare a winning proposal that’s responsive and on-time. Get in contact with us today.

State Government of Wyoming

The State Government of Wyoming, through a collaborative interagency effort, is selecting a vendor to provide Interagency Digital Services and Support (DSS) for TravelWyoming.com and associated systems that support it. The Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) is seeking qualifications, recommendations, and solutions from vendors that can provide: website (TravelWyoming.com) enhancements and integrations of backend systems, design and development of an interactive map, design and development of a mobile application and hosting, maintenance, technical support, and training for TravelWyoming.com, the interactive map, and the mobile application. The goals of this project are to: 1. Promote Wyoming to consumers as the state to visit for all things outdoor recreation, 2. Improve local recreation economies by facilitating community stakeholder discussions, 3. Make sure communities are aware of resources and opportunities to improve amenities and attract business based on local assets, 4.Work with communities and other agencies to create and promote outdoor recreation events, and 5. Engage the public in these events with the goal of positively impacting local economies. If you have the expertise necessary to assist in Wyoming’s impressive efforts, bids are due back February 25th!

Disclosure: Bid Builder, The Bid Lab’s RFP procurement service, was utilized in the issuing of this bid.

State Government of Mississippi Bid

The County of DeSoto in the State of Mississippi is looking to construct the Johnson Creek Greenway Pedestrian and Bike Trail. The path will be 1.79 miles of paved pedestrian and bike trails with amenities, including three pedestrian bridges over existing ditches. Bids are due back February 4th! Interested? The Bid Lab can take care of your entire response. Get in touch with us here.

Volusia County Florida Bid

The County of Volusia is seeking highly qualified firms to provide advertising and marketing services for various county departments such as the Daytona Beach International Airport, the Ocean Center, the Marine Science Center and DeBary Hall, among others. The contract is estimated at $175,000 and will necessitate planning and implementation of image building, design of media advertising, social media advertising and the development and implementation of creative promotions. Bids are due back February 13th! See if you are eligible to bid for this by clicking here.

Iowa Department of Public Health Bid

The Iowa Department of Public Health is looking for qualified vendors capable of providing care and support services to people living with HIV. This is one-year term from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 with a possible renewal. Bids are due back February 6th! Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

Florida Department of State Bid

The Department of Education and Florida Gulf Coast University is seeking professional services in the discipline of master planning for the Campus Master Plan Update 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida. Qualified firms will provide comprehensive consulting services and have the ability to advise on future land use, transportation, housing, general infrastructure, conservation, recreation and open space, intergovernmental coordination and capital improvements. Optional elements include academic mission, academic programs, urban design, academic facilities, support facilities, utilities, architectural design, landscape design, facilities maintenance and coastal management. Successful consultant teams must be able to demonstrate experience in sustainable campus master planning, including resolution of pedestrian, bike, transit and traffic issues, as well as familiarity with statutory and administrative rule requirements. Factors that will also be considered are distance to the office where the work will be performed from the FGCU campus, the volume of work that the firm currently has under contract and experience with government comprehensive plans and concurrency management. Bidders must provide five (5) copies of the requested submittal data by mail to the Director of Facilities Planning by January 31, 2019. If your team is the right fit for this opportunity, The Bid Lab is happy to offer assistance with your response. Inquire here.

Why the RFP Process is Still Relevant in the Digital Age

Many people hate Request for Proposals (RFPs) – I mean really hate RFPs. And it’s tough to blame them. Oftentimes, RFPs are hundreds of pages long, requesting painstakingly detailed information about a product or service with the understanding that responses are contractually binding, pricing should be firm, and due dates strictly adhered to.

This painstaking process has led some companies to ditch the RFP response process altogether – thinking they could just get by on word-of-mouth, in-person pitches, or other less intensive sales processes. There are a few reasons why that is not only a mistake, but it is also setting up those companies for a rude awakening as RFPs become more and more prevalent in the digital age.

Consider how B2B solutions have changed in the last few decades. Previously, work was completed with traditional paper pushing processes and technology played only a minimal, supplemental, role. Think back to the pre-PC age (if you can remember it), where documents ruled the workplace and little attention was placed on the technology stack of a company’s operations.

Nowadays, everyone has a computer, tablet and/or smartphone, with data being pushed and pulled to myriad data storage facilities. Further, different devices have varying levels of functionality, data security, update cycles, and access control policies. Hence, when a company is seeking an IT solution, they not only have to consider the variability in the solution itself, but they must also consider factors such as budget, market position and industry. To that end, even out-of-the-box solutions need to be highly configurable to penetrate markets. For example, Salesforce is widely accepted as the gold standard for CRM solutions, yet no two companies have implemented identical Salesforce solutions. This is because every organization has its own CRM needs, budgets, and data security requirements.

IT is increasingly complicated

Procuring IT solutions has become increasingly complicated as more and more stakeholders have to ensure they are on board with the solution prior to implementation. And, considering that once an IT solution is implemented, it is very difficult to change, procurement teams are especially concerned with getting the right solution in place before implementation. Further, many procurement folks are not necessarily IT SMEs (subject matter experts), having studied sales, marketing, administration, or another relevant field. Additionally, procurement personnel are usually responsible for purchasing many types of solutions outside of IT, not allowing them the bandwidth to hone in on one industry in particular.

Thus, with so many teams being affected by an IT rollout, procurement teams have many hurdles to overcome before purchasing an IT solution. How is it possible to effectively evaluate different solutions with all of the aforementioned variables and none of the assistance that RFPs offer? It would take hours, if not days, for a salesperson to speak through all of the points covered in an RFP. Even if said salesperson had detailed pitch decks, they would still most likely need their legal team, finance officers, and developers to provide in-depth insight beyond their own comprehension. Now, multiply that process by all of the vendors in consideration. By the time everyone was evaluated, months have passed, the first vendor has been arguably forgotten and the procurement executive is most likely exhausted by the options.

An RFP solves these issues and more by having everyone respond to the same requirements, in the same format, with the same deadline. Given that the procurement team will be able to request different requirements from different teams at the onset of the RFP, responders must work cross-departmentally to adhere to the strict requirements in the scope of work. It is commonplace for RFPs to state that deviations from the proposal requirements will automatically disqualify a respondent from being chosen. If you can’t compare apples to apples, the objective of the RFP becomes null and void.

Price is not the only thing that matters:

With digital solutions, price is not the only factor that is evaluated when choosing the best solution. For instance, you may be more concerned with the functionality and flexibility of a platform, over the initial implementation cost. Alternatively, you may be primarily focused on the platform’s business continuity and data security, rather than the cost of such features. With an RFP, you can state what you are most concerned with, and have respondents tailor their responses to what you want and need.

Depending on your industry, your procurement may have vast and stringent legal and regulatory implications. For instance, if you promised to keep your client information confidential, then procuring a data security solution would require you to demonstrate you chose the best possible solution in the marketplace should there be a data breach in the future.

Auditability is important:

Procurement teams concern themselves not only with ensuring that the solution is the best in the market, but also with how they can communicate that to their managers and other stakeholders in the organization. The ability to audit is not something usually found in a sales pitch. And even if the salesperson knew to touch on it, what would you do with that information? For instance, what if there is a disaster during the implementation phase of the solution you chose, and a senior manager wants to know why this solution was picked over another solution? It would be very difficult to explain this without having everything in writing as is done in an RFP.

By having an RFP, you would easily be able to explain the selection process. All respondents’ answers, as well as the scorecards and any communication would all be at your disposal. The methodical way that the solution is procured creates auditability as well as assistance.

RFPs keep you organized:

As previously mentioned, procurement executives usually have the responsibility of making purchasing decisions for more than one solution at a time. Keeping all notes and information in order would be increasingly difficult without responses in writing that were contractually obligating the respondent to their answers. Imagine a company is bidding on two different projects at the same time, both of which you are responsible for evaluating. The overlap can easily create room for unintentional error or oversight.

Also, without expertise in each and every industry a procurement executive is purchasing for, it makes sense that detailed reviews would be necessary. Perhaps the procurement executive is trying to determine the best provider for dialysis equipment and the RFP mentions a medical term the executive hasn’t encountered before. The nature of the RFP, being written out, will allow for research without missing key information.

Timing is paramount:

RFPs put the power in the hands of procurement executives as they have the ability to dictate the timing and priority of the project. Ordinarily, RFPs will allow for questions; however, those questions must be submitted by a stated date so that the procurement executive has the due time to find the right person to answer the questions so the subsequent respondent properly answers the objectives as outlined.

Additionally, RFPs rarely, if ever, allow for late submissions. Given this strictness, you have an informed indication of how long it will take you from solution inception to completion. Because the RFP is contractually binding, respondents will have little leeway for lateness. On the other hand, should the priorities of the procuring party change, RFPs typically provide wording indicating that the procuring agency has the authority to shift the timeline in their favor.

In today’s world, most people would agree that governments and large corporations are having to answer to the public more so than ever before. This, coupled with the increased complexity of the digital age, necessitates keeping procurement efficient, fair, and transparent.

The Bid Lab was founded after I identified a need in the market for a player to assist small and medium-sized businesses in curating bid responses. We complete RFPs, RFIs, RFQs, etc. across all industries and specialize in helping companies expand the market for their competitive products through both public and private contracts. We also help procurement folks like you draft, develop, and manage your bids.

Don’t just ignore the RFP process or view it as a burden, but instead, turn it into a competitive advantage for your firm to procure the best solution in the marketplace.

Clemson University Bid

Clemson University is seeking a vendor to provide social media listening tools for use in the University’s academic, research, and non-academic environments. Qualified vendors will have the capacity to assist in the analysis of varying social media platforms, such as Youtube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as news entities, such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Bids are due back January 18th! See if you are eligible to bid for this by clicking here.

Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association Bid

The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) and the City of Los Angeles is seeking qualified firms to operate its food and beverage concession and/or the retail, tram, photo booth and the stroller/wheelchair rental operations at the Los Angeles Zoo. Interested? The Bid Lab can take care of your entire response. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

Florida General Services Administration Bid

The Florida General Services Administration is looking to lease 12,735 sq ft of office space in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The federal agency that will be occupying the space is public-facing with an estimated 450 visitors per day and needs parking, proximity to local transportation and a minimum 10-year lease. If you have the right spot, The Bid Lab can handle your entire response. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

Eastern Washington University Bid

The Eastern Washington University is soliciting a firm to provide an ecommerce solution for its website. It is seeking an integrated payment system that will allow it to process both credit cards and e-checks online. If you have the capability, The Bid Lab can take care of your entire response. Contact us today for more information!

State Government of Maryland

The Maryland State Government is searching for a vendor to provide media and marketing consulting services for the Maryland Highway Safety Office, Department of Transportation and Motor Vehicle Administration. They’re in need of creative for marketing, media advertising, digital strategies, public relations, coordination of events, training and other duties. Ready to get behind the wheel? The Bid Lab can handle your entire response! Reach out today for a complimentary consultation.