IFBs and RFPs Explained

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With so many initialisms in the bidding process, it can be difficult to differentiate exactly the purpose of each proposal type. There are RFPs, IFBs, RFQs, RFIs and myriad other varieties of requests and invitations. Each path offers its own benefits, as well as drawbacks, depending on your organization’s needs and goals. Two of the most important types are the Invitation for Bid (IFB)  and Request for Proposal (RFP). 

First, let’s go over the details of what IFBs and RFPs are.


An invitation to bid, also referred to as an invitation for bids, is usually a sealed bidding process used when an organization has a clear understanding of its product or project needs. Therefore, IFB evaluations are heavily determined by pricing. An invitation to bid does still value and consider vendors’ experience, but an organization using an IFB will most likely already have a clear description of its project’s scope, requirements, and proposer qualifications. 


A request for proposal, on the other hand, is a process designed to illuminate new ideas and plans to help the organization accomplish its desired task, or tasks. An organization utilizing an RFP knows where they want to go, but is less clear on how to get there. 


Where an IFB will evaluate proposals largely based on price, RFPs will consider price as well as details of the bidding organization’s operational plan, staff experience and education, timeline estimates, and more. The review process for an RFP is typically longer than those of invitations for bids. Request for proposal processes, for example, often include additional interviews and/or negotiations for short-listed vendors, whereas an IFB will generally award its contract to the lowest qualified bidder.  

Which is right for you?

Imagine a state government that knows they need to build a road between a library and a school. They know the location, material needs, and most other specifications of their project already. What they need is a transparent process to help them survey the market and ascertain the most qualified construction firm offering the best price. This is the kind of project IFBs were designed to handle. If, however, that same state government wants to build a website for its new library and doesn’t yet know exactly what they want said website to entail, an RFP is likely a better option.

Timing and transparency are also important factors of consideration for organizations weighing RFP versus IFB processes. If an organization has a clear understanding of its product or project needs, an IFB offers a standardized procedure to receive a number of offers quickly. Once you can determine that the proposer meets your desired qualifications, simple arithmetic can tell you which option is most price-competitive. 

Additionally, because the evaluation process is much more straightforward, organizations needing to maintain transparency often take the IFB route. This is why government agencies and academic institutions so often leverage IFB processes for their vendor needs. 

Do not overlook the benefits of a well-managed RFP process, though! If your organization is seeking a more comprehensive analysis of potential project partners, RFPs are an excellent strategy to pursue. It can help your team gather an array of innovative strategies for success. RFPs can prove beneficial in identifying products or implementations your team may not have even previously considered!

Unsure about your bid journey? Ask for directions!

Now that you know more about the differences between a request for proposal and an invitation to bid (RFP vs. IFB), you are better prepared to help your business climb to new heights through the bidding process. Every organization, though, has its own unique priorities and factors to consider. 

Luckily, The Bid Lab is here for organizations in need of any level of guidance on their proposal journey. Our experts work with clients on both sides of the bidding process to manage RFPs. Whether you’ve never completed a proposal before or are simply looking to enhance your current process, TBL can help!

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

Wispact Corporate Trustee RFP

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Wispact, Inc. is a non-profit corporation under section 501(c)(3) with a mission to administer a pool of special needs trusts accounts to improve the lives of Wisconsin residents with disabilities by providing them with more choices, more opportunities, and a better quality of life. Wispact, having experienced tremendous growth in a short time span, is seeking a corporate trustee as the goal of this RFP.

The ideal candidate will provide a due diligence review of Wispact and assist it in answering questions such as, “How can we improve our processes so that beneficiaries are served in the most effective and efficient ways, which leave them worry-free?”

Questions & Timeline

Answers to any questions asked by proposers will be posted on www.wispact.org by August 6th. Also, proposals for this corporate trustee RFP are due back by August 23rd at 5:00 PM CDT.

Wispact’s board will be voting to decide the winner of this RFP and will be announced on October 30, 2019. Then, the winning party will have a contract start date of January 1, 2020.

You can find out more about Wispact and its services by visiting their website.


The Bid Lab helps firms of all kinds and sizes manage RFP responses like this one. If you’re looking for the perfect RFP, or already have a bid in mind, The Bid Lab can help! Call 1-844-4BIDLAB or email respond@thebidlab.com to get in touch with us right away. You can also check out other featured bids like this one our website.

Further, if your company is looking to release an RFP like this one, The Bid Lab can help craft and issue your very own RFP to ensure you’re sourcing the right vendors. Find out more about Bid Builder here.

Disclosure: The Bid Lab’s Bid Builder service was utilized in the issuance of this RFP. 

How Do I Write a Scope of Work for an RFP?

A scope of work (SOW) is a fundamental piece of a Request for Proposal (RFP) and describes what the company is looking to achieve as a result of the RFP.  The SOW helps ensure that the product or service meets the company’s needs and establishes the parameters of what could be included in the resulting contract.  It should also contain an overall timeline, detailing any milestones, reports, deliverables and/or end products.

So, let’s break down what that looks like into sections. At a minimum, your SOW should contain the following: 

  • Glossary
    • In this section you should define any terms or acronyms used in the SOW. This will help reduce any ambiguity and confusion throughout the SOW.
  • Problem Statement
    • Concisely describe the problem you need to solve.  Define the current state of the environment as well as any activities that have been completed to date as part of the project.
  • Goals
    • Detail the end-goal of the project.  Answer the question “What is the point of this RFP? Be brief and succinct.  Keep this to a few sentences or one paragraph in length.
  • Deliverables
    • This section should outline the deliverables of the project and the associated tasks for each deliverable.  Be as detailed as possible here so both parties understand what is to be done and who is responsible.
  • Communication Plan
    • If there are meetings, calls, or reviews they should be outlined in this section of the SOW.  A regular cadence of check-ins or project status updates should always be included in any SOW to ensure that the project is moving forward in a timely manner.
  • Timeline
    • This section lays out all the dates for the project.  It should also cover due dates for deliverables and incorporate any dates relating to the Communication Plan. 

By including the above components in your RFP SOW you can avoid the main problem that plagues scopes of work: lack of specificity. A well-thought-out SOW tells the issuer that you have taken the time to evaluate the RFP in detail and are confident in your ability to meet their needs. 

If you have never written an SOW before, or want assistance ensuring yours is up to the standards of the issuing party, check out Bid Manager, The Bid Lab’s RFP management service.

If you give us the gist, we’ll take care of the jargon. 

Consulting, Management and Education Services RFP

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The State of Nevada Purchasing Division, on behalf of the Department of Education, is currently seeking proposals for Marketing Services, Conference Planning Services, Facilitation, Program Evaluation, Training, Needs Assessments, Project Management, Data Analysis and Report Development on an as needed basis. This education services RFP will be a five-year contract anticipated to begin on September 10, 2019.

The ideal candidate has the ability to exceed the agency’s expectations regarding its shared community vision, evidence-based decision making, community engagement, collaborative action, and investment and sustainability.


Responsibilities regarding marketing services include developing marketing plans for education outreach campaigns, events, conferences, projects or agencies through multimedia offerings. Additionally, conference planning will be paramount to the winning candidate’s proposal. The proposer is looking for a firm with the ability to facilitate planning committee meetings to establish conference agenda, topics and speaker recommendations. Further, vendors should be able to help negotiate contracts with hotels for conference spaces.

An additional requirement is to facilitate meetings relating to action plans to validate assignments of personnel and tasks to ensure timeliness and success of goals and objectives. In order to train properly, the vendor should provide webinars, webcasts and Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

Lastly, the chosen candidate will be accountable for the planning, day-to-day coordination, successful execution and close-out of assigned projects in accordance with policies and procedures. The vendor will work in tandem with all staff to facilitate a “one team” approach throughout all projects.

The awarded organization will be working directly with the Department of Education to accomplish the goals of the RFP.


Questions for this RFP are due back by June 16, 2019. Answers will be posted on June 20, 2019. The bid response is due by July 1, 2019.


For more bid opportunities like this one, visit the State of Nevada’s website here.

The Bid Lab’s Bid Manager service helps firms respond to proposals like this one. We also help find strategic bids for your organization if you haven’t found the right one quite yet! You can get in touch with us at 1-844-4BID-LAB or email respond@thebidlab.com for more information.

Northern Kentucky University RFP

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Northern Kentucky University is issuing an RFP to find a search firm to assist in identifying and selecting an academic dean for the College of Education.

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) is a public university that was founded in 1968. It’s located in Highland Heights, Kentucky and is part of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Region. NKU serves over 15,000 students, of which about 85% are undergraduates.

Students at NKU come from 42 states and 53 countries. As such, the university offers 78 bachelor’s degrees and associate degrees, 23 graduate programs and a Juris Doctor. Further, the university is served by more than 2,000 employees of whom 541 are full-time faculty.

NKU has a satellite campus about 40 miles from the main campus and a corporate training/conference center located near the airport. The university has close ties to the business, government, and non-profit entities in the region as well as to the region’s P-12 and post-secondary schools.


The ideal candidate for this RFP will have the ability to assist with the preparation of an appropriate vacancy notice, generate a strong pool of highly qualified and interested applicants including minority applicants and support, through technology, the acceptance of credentials as well as the review of those credentials by the search committee. Additionally, other important abilities include advising and supporting the academic dean search committee, specifically the chair, vetting the applicants in the pool and establishing review criteria for the committee members’ evaluation of applicants for the search.

Towards the end of the search, the firm will help the Provost develop an appropriate compensation package and negotiate with the identified candidate.

NKU has the following criteria, listed in priority order for bid evaluation:

  1. Likelihood of producing a successful search
  2. Scope of services
  3. Past effectiveness as indicated in the proposal and by references
  4. Cost effectiveness


If your firm can meet the requirements of this bid, questions are due by June 24, 2019. Then, the bid response itself is due by July 1, 2019 at 2:00 PM.

You can find more opportunities like this one on Northern Kentucky University’s website.


The Bid Lab has a team of expert consultants ready, willing and able to assist with your next RFP response! Set up a complimentary consultation here, call 1-844-4BIDLAB or email respond@thebidlab.com

What To Include In Your RFP Cover Letter

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You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The same is true when responding to request for proposal (RFP) opportunities. A successful RFP response establishes its tone immediately through a well-thought-out cover letter that provides a concise overview detailing to the reader exactly why your organization is best-suited to meet the issuer’s needs.  

An effective cover letter sets clear expectations for your proposal from the start, which makes a world of difference in the eyes of a reviewer. So, the question evidently becomes how can you ensure your proposal’s cover letter is as impactful as possible?

Here are our five tips for writing the perfect RFP cover letter:

1. Reuse previous content strategically.

When responding to multiple RFPs it is not uncommon to leverage standardized responses and templates. There is nothing inherently problematic about reusing content, as long as it is directly relevant to the bid at-hand. Problems present themselves when the writer neglects to tailor its cover letter response to the requesting organization. (There is arguably nothing worse than accidentally forgetting to omit the name of another organization in your cover letter.)

A few simple customizations (that you’ll read about below) can help establish your organization as a responsive bidder that pays close attention to detail.

2. Match your cover letter’s tone to that of the requesting organization.

If you’re responding to a potential government contract, you most likely want to keep things simple and straightforward. But, if you’re instead responding to an RFP from an innovative startup, some creativity through imagery and humor won’t hurt.

Imagine writing a letter to your mom. Now, imagine writing a letter to your best friend. Those letters are going to sound very different. They should. So should your RFP cover letters.

3. Include specific references to the opportunity for which you are applying.

Identify one or two unique characteristics about the requesting organization and incorporate them into your overview. For example, if the RFP involves work in a rural community, reference your organization’s specific experience driving progress in similar contexts. From there, focus on three or four key needs of your potential client. Explain how your team is uniquely situated to deliver solutions in these specific areas, and provide examples that demonstrate the positive impact your team can provide.

Trust us, the person reviewing your bid response wants to know that real thought and effort was applied. Investing energy into providing a few bespoke details in the cover letter will pay dividends for your entire proposal.

4. Address your letter to a specific contact person at the requesting organization.

More often than not, the person to whom you addressed the actual bid response is also the person reading said bid response. And, usually, that contact person has a role in the evaluation of the response itself, helping choose the winning entity. As you would with any letter, you should address the letter to that individual, not an entire organization or “whomever this may concern.”

5. Conclude the cover letter with a forward-looking call-to-action.

Express your willingness to discuss any aspect of your proposal in greater detail with the reviewer at any time. You may also offer to provide additional references or point them in the direction of collateral that will help them in their decision-making. For example, some organizations have informative websites that the issuing party may not know where to find given your mail-submitted RFP. If you have an impressive website, notable reference or a highly-publicized project, mentioning it off-the-bat in your cover letter gives you a leg-up on the competition. It also makes your response more memorable.

If you follow the tips above, your cover letter will provide an effective introduction to your proposal that is specific, concise, and intriguing. The remainder of your bid will expound the key points raised in the cover letter in more detail, but the objective of the cover letter is simply to prove your organization’s response is well worth a closer look. From there, your team will be in a great position to close the deal!

As an organization founded by proposal experts that help our clients on both sides of the RFP marketplace, we have a unique perspective on how successful cover letters are created, and reviewed. The Bid Lab helps businesses navigate the RFP process from inception to submission.

If your organization needs help ensuring its cover letter, or any other aspect of its RFP response, is as reflective of your team’s excellence as it can be, contact us now for a complimentary consultation. You can also learn more about our BidBuilder and BidManager or check out our case studies.

State of Florida Substance Abuse Bid

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The Department of Children and Families (Department), Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH), is issuing this bid to obtain media campaign services for the Partnerships for Success (PFS) Project.

The Department seeks proposals from qualified organizations to provide media services for the statewide Opioid Overdose Prevention Awareness Campaign bid. Services include continuing and expanding the Department’s existing Campaign through digital and print advertisements and developing new creative campaign materials. Also, respondents will be responsible for collaborating with stakeholders on interviews and op-eds and conducting focus groups to continually inform campaign messaging.

The Department previously contracted for educational materials for the project, including creative design, advertisement placement and a website providing resources on overdose prevention education and naloxone distribution locations. They also collected focus group feedback on Campaign messaging. The existing Campaign includes digital displays, social media, Public Service Announcement videos, streaming audio, and out-of-home placements. The target audiences for the existing Campaign are people ages 25-64 who use opioids who may be at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose and their family and significant others who may witness an overdose. The target markets for the existing Campaign are Tampa, Tallahassee, Miami, Pensacola, West Palm Beach, Sarasota, Orlando and Jacksonville.


There are three stated goals of the statewide campaign bid. Firstly, to educate individuals at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose or loved ones on the signs of said overdose. Secondly, how to use naloxone to reverse an overdose. Finally, where to access naloxone in Florida.

Additionally, the project hopes to reduce prescription drug misuse among individuals ages 12-25, reduce the number of accidental and intentional deaths caused by opioids, strengthen prevention capacity and infrastructure at the state and community level, and increase awareness of opioid overdose prevention and naloxone.


If you’re interested in responding to this worthy bid, the anticipated start date of the contract is August 1, 2019. The anticipated duration of the contract is through September 30, 2021. Further, there is a possible renewal term for this contract of up to three years.

Written questions are due by June 17th. Responses will be posted by June 19th. Notice of intent to submit a proposal is due by June 21st. The bid response itself is due July 11th.


For more bids like this one, visit the State of Florida’s procurement website.

Or, if you like what you see here, but it’s not quite the right fit for your firm, get in touch with us here at The Bid Lab. If your company is interested in pursuing strategic bid opportunities custom-tailored for you, The Bid Lab’s Bid Manager consultants are here.

Phoenix Bid Opportunity

Announcing a new Phoenix bid opportunity! The City of Phoenix Information Technology Services Department is seeking qualified vendors to provide information technology professional services. The following categories are in scope for this Phoenix bid opportunity: Firstly, Application Systems Analysis, Design, Implementation, and/or Administration. Secondly, Enterprise Resource Planning Technology Services (including PeopleSoft, Oracle and SAP). Thirdly, GIS Technology and/or Services. Fourthly, Web-Based Technology and/or Services. Fifthly, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) (including Microsoft Dynamics, Mobile Applications and Customer Relationships). Sixthly, Database Management Systems Analysis, Design, Implementation, and/or Administration (including Data Services, Data Analytics and Business Intelligence). Seventhly, End User Office Automation Technology Analysis, Design, Implementation, and/or Administration. Eighthly, Network, Video, Voice Infrastructure. Ninethly, Information Technology Auditing Services. Tenthly, Business Technology and, finally, Information Technology Training.

To clarify, vendors can apply to any and all services as prescribed in the Phoenix Bid Opportunity. However, you must include résumés for each line item as examples of the skillsets of the personnel the vendor would employ to render the service.

The contract in scope is for a one-year term from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. Questions are due back by May 19, 2019 and proposals are due back by June 3, 2019.

Subsequently, if you have the expertise to assist the City of Phoenix, The Bid Lab’s Bid Manager can assist in your response! Additionally, The Bid Lab identifies custom-curated bid opportunities for all types of organizations. If you are interested in receiving bids like this Phoenix bid opportunity, then please visit our Bid Finder page.

New York State Department of Labor Bid

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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. America’s One-Stop Operating System Project 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 United States Department of Labor administered employment and training programs: WIOA, Wagner-Peyser (WP), Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG), and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) 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.

New York State Department of Labor, 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. For additional bids by the New York State Department of Labor, check out their website here.

The Bid Lab’s Bid Manager service can help manage your response! Find out more about Bid Manager here.