What Is in an RFP?

What is an RFP

A Request for Proposals, or RFP, is by far the most common way for the government – and some private companies – to acquire goods and services. When an organization needs a product or service, they may write up and publish an RFP. In this way, they ask for qualified vendors to apply in a specified way. Simply put, it’s a document that lays out an organization’s needs and asks for solutions. Applicants then apply to win the right to complete the project.

For example, let’s say a city needs their website updated or redesigned. The city may publish an RFP outlining what the city needs from the new website. The RFP specifies their budget range and invites web design firms to submit a proposal (or “bid”) for the project.

What does a Common RFP Include?

Typically, a common RFP will include some variation of the following:

  1. Background: A standard RFP will include a brief history of the organization and an overview of the organization’s needs for the project.
  2. Scope of Work: Here, the organization will explain in detail exactly what product, service or commodity the organization requires. This is the heart of the RFP, as it outlines exactly what the organization needs from bidders. In the website example above, this section would clearly define what features and functionality the website would need to have. Learn more about how to write a Scope of Work.
  3. Proposal Format: This section may appear at the beginning or end of the RFP. Or, you may find different elements scattered throughout the document. It lays out exactly how bidders should format and respond to the RFP. This includes where to send the proposal, who bidders should contact for information, whether copies should be digital or physical, and whether original signatures are needed. The details are in the RFP, so don’t let the bidding process intimidate you.

What Other Information Is In an RFP?

  1. Questions/Pre-Bid Conference Information: Often, the issuing organization will have a period during which interested bidders may send in questions and/or a conference that bidders can attend to ask questions. This section outlines how and when bidders can get their inquiries answered before sending in their final bids. For more help, read How to Ask RFP Questions the Right Way.
  2. Evaluation Criteria: If the issuing organization is a government entity, they will often specify how they plan on evaluating the proposals to choose the winning bidder.
  3. Documents and Forms: Particularly in government bids (see government vs. private RFPs), there may be a long list of standard forms and certifications that are required to do business with the issuing organization. Depending on the issuer, these can range from disclosures of certain ownership and investment interests to tax documents, proposed contracts, and so on.
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What Happens After the RFP is Submitted?

After the submission period has ended, the issuing organization will review the proposals just as one might review job applications. They will then award a contract to the bidder who best meets their requirements. This process can take anywhere from a few days to several months.

Finding and responding to RFPs can be quite an in-depth (and sometimes confusing) process. So, businesses may choose to enlist the help of a bid consulting firm.

At The Bid Lab, RFPs are our business. We specialize in finding RFPs for companies to bid on. We also handle the entire bidding process to help them win.

So, you’d like to know more? Check out the meaning of RFI, which is also different from the meaning of RFQ and RFP. In fact, we have a handy Industry Glossary in our Learning Center. Need even more information about the meaning of RFQ and RFPs? Check out our Learning Center for more bidding strategies, like Ways Proposal Writing Differs From Technical Writing, 5 Mistakes To Avoid in Your Bid Proposal and How Intelligent RFP Search Saves Valuable Time for Salespeople. Or, sign up for Bid Banana, the user-friendly RFP search engine, to find RFPs, RFQs, and RFIs the easy way.

The Bid Lab team is here to help. Reach out by calling 1-844-4BID-LAB or email us at respond@thebidlab.com for a free consultation.