5 Ways to Improve the RFP Process

Request-for-proposals (RFP) have been around forever. An RFP is an important step for a brand to gauge the talent and capabilities of potential partners. And for those partners, an RFP is a chance to wow potential clients and build valuable business relationships. But after years of use and thousands of RFPs, it's safe to say that they take up a lot of time and resources for both brands and partners. Here are 5 ways in which brands can increase efficiency and ensure that only the best RFPs reach their table.

1. Design your RFP with efficiency in mind:

A well written RFP includes: your company information and brand guidelines, detailed project overview, prior challenges with similar projects, partner's scope of work, process of evaluation, budget parameters, submission requirements, and questions on partner information and capabilities specific to the project.

2. Allow a realistic and fair deadline:

Short turnaround times are extremely challenging when it comes to providing a thoughtful, detailed and creative response. Short deadlines are an inevitable part of our industry but keep in mind that on the partner's side, it usually takes one week just to asses the RFP, assign a team, and begin researching solutions. Giving ample time will yield well thought out proposals with urgency in mind, not haste.

3. Allow flexibility for online submission portals:

Most of the times partners' hands are tied when submitting to online portals. Responding to RFPs are difficult and timely in general so adding an online submission process makes it that much more inefficient. By providing open-ended questions or space for attachments, creativity won't be limited.

4. Remove repetitive questions:

Duplicate questions or questions that are worded differently but require the same answers are a waste of everyone's time. For example the questions “Provide a description of your global capabilities?” and “What type of global services do you provide?” ask the same thing. Unless this is for standardized test prep, this practice is a big factor in RFP inefficiency.

5. Cut out non-contenders:

An RFP should only be sent to those that you would consider hiring. Not to every partner within the industry that might be able to do what you need. Sending out RFPs to 4 or 5 potential partners who you're confident can grasp your vision, should give you enough to choose from without overwhelming your inbox and team.

Since RFPs don't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, following these 5 tips will ensure that efficiency and creativity will always take precedence.

Author: Kristy Elisano  - Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing at Sparks. Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.

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2828 Charter Road
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19154
United States

March 24, 2015

By Kristy Elisano